Lesson #4: Minor Scales – Minor Keys – Relative Minor – Inversions

Last weeks lesson which can be found here, http://paulfredericksmusic.com/lesson-3-keys-key-signatures-the-circle-of-fifths-triads-chords-more-scales-bass-clef/, we went over the ideas of keys/key signatures, the major scale, building chords and reading bass clef.

Today we will look at learning our natural minor scale, understanding minor keys, relative minor/relative major, as well as chord/triad inversions!


Now the minor scale is it’s own unique scale that uses a different formula to build upon, the formula used for the minor scale is:


So if we were to build C Minor we would get:


Another way to learn your minor scales is to think of them as coming from the major scale:

(This would be considered parallel)

So now if you compare our C minor scale to our C Major scale:

C-D-E- F-G-A- B- C


1- 2-3- 4- 5- 6- 7 -8

Our 3rd note, 6th, and 7th note of the major scale went down, by 1 half step.

So if we want to convert any major scale into a minor scale all we have to do is lower the 3rd, 6th, and 7th note of that major scale down a half step.


The last way is to figure out your relative majors and relative minors.

What this concept of “relative” means, is that within one key/scale there are other keys/scales that fit within it.

If we look at our C Major scale


The 6th note of the scale is A

So if we start our scale on A but using all of the notes from C Major we get:


This is the A minor scale.

If you look at our A Major and A Minor you can see this more clearly:


A-B-C- D-E-F- G- A

1-2- 3- 4-5-6- 7 -8

Our 3, 6, and 7 went down a half step to their natural.

Every 6th note of a major scale will be that scales/keys relative minor.

So to find your relative major from within a minor scale, is to look at the 3rd note of our scale.

So our A Minor Scale was:


Therefore our 3rd note is C, so C, is A Minor’s relative major key.

Just like Eb would be C minors relative major key.


So we can use the circle of fifths to also help us figure out the key signatures of all the natural minor keys.

A minor has 0 sharps, 0 flats so it starts on the 12 position.

If we go up by 5
1-2- 3-4- 5-6- 7-8

We get E, so E is the first minor scale with 1 sharp, F#. (Same key signature as G Major)

So the entire order of Minor scales for ascending, right, clockwise circle of fifths would be:


Then the entire order of minor scales for descending, left, counter clockwise circle of fifths would be:


Here is a picture with the minor keys signatures and circle of fifths:

https://imgur.com/KvM0ScB – sharp key signatures

https://imgur.com/S3YraT9 – flat key signatures

https://imgur.com/I3PxQ5g – key signatures

Now what’s unique to this version of the circle of fifths is that it tells you both the major and minor keys, within the circle of fifths, that share the same key signature.

So our 12 0’clock position has both C Major and A Minor which both use the same key signature, no sharps no flats. This also means they also share all the same notes of the scale, WHICH ALSO MEANS they share all same 7 chords we found from our last lesson. We will look at that later.

Here are all 12 minor scales written in circle of fifths: (I will add common enharmonic scales to Ab, Bb, & Eb)

A Minor = A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A – 0 sharps/0 flats

E Minor = E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-E – 1 sharps, F#

B Minor = B-C#-D-E-F#-G-A-B – 2 sharps, F# & C#

F# Minor = F#-G#-A-B-C#-D-E-F# – 3 sharps, F#, C#, & G#

C# Minor = C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A-B-C#) – 4 sharps, F#, C#, G#, & D#

Ab Minor = Ab-Bb-Cb-Db-Eb-Fb-Gb-Ab – 7 flats, Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,Cb,& Fb

(G# Minor = G#-A#-B-C#-D#-E-F#-G# – 5 sharps, F#, C#, G#, D#, & A#

Eb Minor = Eb-F-Gb-Ab-Bb-Cb-Db-Eb – 6 flats, Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,& Cb

(D# Minor = D#-E#-F#-G#-A#-B-C#-D#) – 6 sharps, F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, & E#

Bb Minor = Bb-C-Db-Eb-F-Gb-Ab-Bb – 5 flats, Bb,Eb,Ab,Db, &Gb

(A# Minor = A#-B#-C#-D#-E#-F#-G#-A#) – 7 sharps, F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, & B#

F Minor = F-G-Ab-Bb-C-Db-Eb-F – 4 flats, Bb,Eb,Ab,& Db

C Minor = C-D-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C – 3 flats, Bb,Eb, & Ab

G Minor = G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F-G – 2 flats, Bb,& Eb

D Minor = D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C-D – 1 flat, Bb


So just like how we figured out that our keys mean scales, key signature, and chords within key, let us now look at our chords within our minor keys.

So A Minor gives us these notes:

A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B- C- D- E- F- G – A

1-2- 3- 4-5-6- 7- 8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15

Just like we built chords using each note of the scale in our last lesson we can do the same thing here:

1-3-5 = A-C-E = A Minor

2-4-6 = B-D-F = B Diminished

3-5-7 = C-E-G = C Major

4-6-8 = D-F-A = D Minor

5-7-9 = E-G-B = E Minor

6-8-10 = F-A-C = F Major

7-9-11 = G-B-D = G Major
Here is an image on sheet music and piano of all of these chords (the image on piano will be split in multiple octaves as I cannot overlay on the same notes)

https://imgur.com/PA3eLJX – sheet music

https://imgur.com/5WeNe8v -piano

So this pattern will always be the same for all the minor scales.

Triad built on 1st degree will always be a Minor Triad

Triad build on 2nd degree will always be a Diminished Triad


1 = Minor

2 = Diminished

3 = Major

4 = Minor

5 = Minor

6 = Major

7 = Major

So before we noticed that both C Major and A Minor have the same key signature, and notes within their scale. Yes that also means the chords in both of those keys are within one another. This is where the term relative comes from.

C Major = I in CM, but III in Am.

D Minor = ii in CM, but iv in Am.

E minor = iii in CM, but v in Am.

F Major = IV in CM, but VI in Am.

G Major = V in CM, but VII in Am.

A Minor = vi in CM, but i in Am.

B Diminished = vii in CM, but ii in Am.

Hopefully this is another great start to understanding our minor scale, minor keys, and minor key signatures. Also relating these back to our last lesson and major keys will be a big help.


Now the next idea I wanted to talk about was the idea of an inversion.

Any chord/triad can be “inverted” into another position of the same chord/triad.

For example our C Major chord has 3 notes:


This means that there are 3 configurations of said notes.

Position 1 = Root Position = 1-3-5 (root of chord is in bass *lowest voicing*)

Position 2 = 1st inversion = 3-5-1 (3rd of chord is in bass *lowest voicing*
{this can also be called a 6/3, we will understand this terminology in the next lesson})

Position 3 = 2nd inversion = 5-1-3 (5th of chord is in bass * lowest voicing*{this can also be called a 6/4, we will understand this terminology in the next lesson}))

Here is a picture on the piano and sheet music of this C major chord in all 3 positions.

https://imgur.com/IrgD9XG – sheet music

https://imgur.com/GECiJgi – piano

So any triad and any chord can have however many positions based on however many notes are in said chord.


Now the next part of my post is going to be a massive paste. I’m going to paste all 12 major triads, all 12 minor triads, and all 12 diminished triads, & all their inversions here, within the circle of fifths
(I will also upload .png, .pdf, .midi, and .musescore file):


Major Triads & Inversions in Circle of Fifths:

C Major = Root Position: C-E-G / 1st Inversion: E-G-C / 2nd Inversion: G-C-E

G Major = Root Position: G-B-D / 1st Inversion: B-D-G / 2nd Inversion: D-G-B

D Major = Root Position: D-F#-A / 1st Inversion: F#-A-D / 2nd Inversion: A-D-F#

A Major = Root Position: A-C#-E / 1st Inversion: C#-E-A / 2nd Inversion: E-A-C#

E Major = Root Position: E-G#-B / 1st Inversion: G#-B -E / 2nd Inversion: B-E-G#

B Major = Root Position: B-D#-F# / 1st Inversion: D#-F#-B / 2nd Inversion: F#-B-D#

F# Major = Root Position: F#-A#-C# / 1st Inversion: A#-C#-F# / 2nd Inversion: C#-F#-A#
(Gb Major = Root Position: Gb-Bb-Db / 1st Inversion: Bb-Db-Gb / 2nd Inversion: Db-Gb-Db)

C# Major = Root Position: C#-E#-G# / 1st Inversion: E#-G#-C# / 2nd Inversion: G#-C#-E#
(Db Major = Root Position: Db-F-Ab / 1st Inversion: F-Ab-Db / 2nd Inversion: Ab-Db-F)

Ab Major = Root Position: Ab-C-Eb / 1st Inversion: C-Eb-Ab / 2nd Inversion: Eb-Ab-C
(G# Major = Root Position: G#-B#-D# / 1st Inversion: B#-D#-G# / 2nd Inversion: D#-G#-B#)

Eb Major = Root Position: Eb-G-Bb / 1st Inversion: G-Bb-Eb / 2nd Inversion: Bb-Eb-G
(D# Major = Root Position: D#-Fx-A# / 1st Inversion: Fx-A#-D# / 2nd Inversion: A#-D#-Fx)

Bb Major = Root Position: Bb-D-F / 1st Inversion: D-F-Bb / 2nd Inversion: F-Bb-D

(A# Major = Root Position: A#-Cx-E# / 1st Inversion: Cx-E#-A# / 2nd Inversion: E#-A#-Cx)

F Major = Root Position: F-A-C / 1st Inversion: A-C-F / 2nd Inversion: C-F-A


Minor Triads & Inversions in Circle of Fifths:

A Minor = Root position: A-C-E / 1st Inversion: C-E-A / 2nd Inversion: E-A-C

E Minor = Root position: E-G-B / 1st Inversion: G-B-E / 2nd Inversion: B-E-G

B Minor = Root position: B-D-F# / 1st Inversion: D-F#-B / 2nd Inversion: F#-B-D#

F# Minor = Root position: F#-A-C# / 1st Inversion: A-C#-F# / 2nd Inversion: C#-F#-A

(Gb Minor = Root Position: Gb-Bbb-Db / 1st Inversion: Bbb-Db-Gb / 2nd Inversion: Db-Gb-Bbb)

C# Minor = Root position: C#-E-G# / 1st Inversion: E-G#-C# / 2nd Inversion: G#-C#-E

(Db Minor = Root Position: Db-Fb-Ab / 1st Inversion: Fb-Ab-Db / 2nd Inversion: Ab-Db-Fb)

G# Minor = Root position: G#-B-D# / 1st Inversion: B-D#-G# / 2nd Inversion: D#-G#-B

(Ab Minor = Root Position: Ab-Cb-Eb / 1st Inversion: Cb-Eb-Ab / 2nd Inversion: Eb-Ab-Cb)

D# Minor = Root position: D#-F#-A# / 1st Inversion: F#-A#-D# / 2nd Inversion: A#-F#-D#

(Eb Minor = Root Position: Eb-Gb-Bb / 1st Inversion: Gb-Bb-Eb / 2nd Inversion: Bb-Eb-Gb)
Bb Minor = Root position: Bb-Db-F / 1st Inversion: Db-F-Bb / 2nd Inversion: F-Bb-Db

(A# Minor = Root Position: A#-C#-E# / 1st Inversion: C#-E#-A# / 2nd Inversion: E#-A#-C#)

F Minor = Root position: F-Ab-C / 1st Inversion: Ab-C-F / 2nd Inversion: C-F-Ab

C Minor = Root position: C-Eb-G / 1st Inversion: Eb-G-C / 2nd Inversion: G-C-Eb

G Minor = Root position: G-Bb-D / 1st Inversion: Bb-D-G / 2nd Inversion: D-G-Bb

D Minor = Root position: D-F-A / 1st Inversion: D-F-A-D / 2nd Inversion: D-F-A-D-F


Diminished Triads & Inversions in Circle of Fifths:

B Diminished = Root position: B-D-F / 1st Inversion: D-F-B / 2nd Inversion: F-B-D

F# Diminished = Root position: F#-A-C / 1st Inversion: A-C-F# / 2nd Inversion: C-F#-A

(Gb Diminished = Root Position: Gb-Bbb-Dbb / 1st Inversion: Bbb-Dbb-Gb /
2nd Inversion: Dbb-Gb-Bbb)

C# Diminished = Root position: C#-E-G / 1st Inversion: E-G-C# / 2nd Inversion: G-C#-E
(Db Diminished = Root Position: Db-Fb-Abb / 1st Inversion: Fb-Abb-Db /
2nd Inversion: Abb-Db-Fb)

G# Diminished = Root position: G#-B-D / 1st Inversion: B-D-G# / 2nd Inversion: D-G#-B

(Ab Diminished = Root Position: Ab-Cb-Ebb / 1st Inversion: Cb-Ebb-Ab /
2nd Inversion: Ebb-Ab-Cb)

D# Diminished = Root position: D#-F#-A / 1st Inversion: F#-A-D# / 2nd Inversion: A-D#-F#

(Eb Diminished = Root Position: Eb-Gb-Bbb / 1st Inversion: Gb-Bbb-Eb /
2nd Inversion: Bbb-Eb-Gb)
(A# Diminished = Root Position: A#-C#-E / 1st Inversion: C#-E-A# / 2nd Inversion: E-A#-C#)

Bb Diminished = Root position: Bb-Db-Fb / 1st Inversion: Db-Fb-Bb / 2nd Inversion: Fb-Bb-Db

F Diminished = Root position: F-Ab-Cb / 1st Inversion: Ab-Cb-F / 2nd Inversion: Cb-F-Ab

C Diminished = Root position: C-Eb-Gb / 1st Inversion: Eb-Gb-C / 2nd Inversion: Gb-C-Eb

G Diminished = Root position: G-Bb-Db / 1st Inversion: Bb-Db-G / 2nd Inversion: Db-G-Bb

D Diminished = Root Position: D-F-Ab / 1st Inversion: F-Ab-D / 2nd Inversion: Ab-D-F

A Diminished = Root Position: A-C-Eb / 1st Inversion: C-Eb-A / 2nd Inversion: Eb-A-C

E Diminished = Root Position: E-G-Bb / 1st Inversion: G-Bb-E / 2nd Inversion: Bb-E-G


*Also if any one finds any mistakes please let me know and I’ll fix them, either in this post, my blog, or in the sheet music/gdrive*

So we have looked into our major and minor scales. We have understood how relative keys use the same key signatures. This also means that relative keys also share the same chords between them.

There are 12 unique scales, which mean there are 12 relative minor keys.

Then in each of those 12 keys you can 7 unique triads/chords. As we learn more we will see how to find and build more chords within keys, how to build extended chords such as 7ths and more!

The best way to practice chords is by using all methods mentioned in the past few lessons. Understanding and connecting all of these ideas together is where you will be able to play/understand/analyze and create music in much better ways.


So I’ll be posting the first Weekly Question Thread AND a guitar post TOMORROW, 3/3/21!


Next week we will go over a bit on Roman Numeral Analysis of music as well as some Figured Bass. I might go over a bit on intervals and scale degrees, and how we can use these systems of understanding chord progressions and creating your own chord progressions, melody, & harmony.