Scale newbie question

What is c minor listed in the mode column as Major 6th? - Thanks

Not really a ‘newbie’ question at all …

I was never comfortable / familiar with this presentation, but I assume that (e.g.) it is in terms of a diatonic major starting on the 6th degree of the root. Scaler thinks in modes and if you look down the list this ties in all the way down e.g. Ionian augmented is built on the 3rd degree of the harmonic minor and it titled "harmonic minor 3rd’

So I think the description could be read as “mode” / “interval above the root”

However, I am a music theory amateur / novice and many here are in the business so will no doubt jump in shortly :slight_smile:

Thanks for jumping in. C minor is major 6 in relation to what? I still am not grasping this. The 6th degree of what root? - Thanks

My (naive) interpretation is as follows.

The C major scale has an interval formula in half steps of 2212221, and that represents, starting from C, C D E F G A B. If you rotate the intervals left by one step, you get 2122212. Taking those steps form the C root, gives you C D bE F G A bB Which is C Dorian. [Of course, if you started from the second degree of the C major (i.e. D) this would be D E F G A B i.e. D Dorian which has the a same notes as C major]

Here the root is C and the degree is 6, so if we look at rotating the intervals from C major we have

2122122 <<< 6th

Apply those intervals from a C root, and you get

C D bE F G bA bB i.e C Aeolian aka C natural minor

So the intervals are from a major scale/mode, but the scale is C minor.[These are course the same notes as bE major (ionian) - scales are driven by roots and intervals.

This maybe all wrong (help someone ?) and although my music theory is between non-existent and poor, I play the guitar and guitarists think in modes to move around the fretboard. If I play A minor at the 5th fret I know that if I play exactly the same shape but start with my pinky (from the 8th fret), that’s C major. I see these intervals when I’m plinking.

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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

:crazy_face: :laughing:

Thanks all, every bit helps !!!

Maybe a simplified way to look at It is think of the C Major scale starting C-B (all white keys) if you move to the second degree (D) and play D-C then you are playing the Dorian scale (because of the different intervals or distances between keys). If you go all the way to the 6th degree (A) and play A-G you get the Minor scale, hence the 'Major 6th.

I’m sorry, but having played since I was 10 years old (now 61) I had never even sensed it like that. I think the same as Bernd:

The white key system doesn’t work for my little brain.
I play the piano very badly, but I always have it activated in True scale

My rather odd description was because I thought @larryegood queried why it said ‘major 6th’ against the scale ‘Cm’. @davide’s concise explanation was fine, but he cited A Aeolian as the relative minor (‘play A-G’) rather than what was puzzling @larryegood - why did it say ‘major’ against ‘Cm’.

This is illustrated by the parallel / derivative dilemma for guitar players; is G mixolydian a G major scale with a flat 7th, or a C major scale from the 5th degree ? Both of course, but It makes a lot of difference to the number of scale ‘shapes’ you have to learn. It may all be the same rose, but it makes a lot of difference to how many fingering shapes you have or master. On a piano you only have one scale shape.

I tend to think in parallel terms viz how the Ionian pattern is modified by a mode, rather than derivative approach of shifting shapes up and down i.e. dorian is an Ionian shape a tone lower.

Sorry if I confused anyone !

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I don’t play the piano at all, and I would fear the difficulties of doing even the simplest transposition - so much to memorise. I think the fundamental differences between a piano and a guitar lead to different ways of thinking about scales.

On a piano, you can play one octave of C major of a given pitch in one place only. On a guitar there are at least 12, all with different fingerings (some of which ae easy roses and some of which are hard thistles). I suspect this tends to mean that guitarists and piano players think about scales/modes and their approach to learning them rather differently, which accounts for my possibly bizarre explanation.

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Just found this thread and thought I would throw in my understanding, which if it is wrong someone could correct for me.

C minor is the relative minor to the Eb major scale. It has the same key signature, 3 flats - Eb, Ab and Bb. C is the sixth note in the Eb flat major scale (Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C) therefore it is is the sixth degree of the scale.

Also the C minor scale is an Aeolian mode scale.

This relationship is true for all major scales and their relative minor, so for C major the relative minor is A minor, and the relative minor of D major is B minor.

A note on minor scales: there are three commonly used minor scales: the natural minor, the harmonic monr and the melodic minor.

The natural minor sale only uses the notes from its relative major thus the A minor (natural) scale is A B C D E F G (A) and the same notes are played up and down the scale.

A B C D E F G A G F E D C B (A)

The harmonic minor uses the same notes as the natural minor but raises the 7th by a semi-tone (half step) thus the A minor harmonic scale is A B C D E F G# (A) and the same notes are played up and down the scale.

A B C D E F G# A G# F E D C B A

The melodic minor is slightly different as it is generally only used when ascending the scale. To create it start from the natural minor and raise the sixth and seventh notes by a semitone. The A minor melodic scale is A B C D E F# G# (A).

When playing the melodic scale the natural minor is usually played descending so the eight note harmonic A minor scale would be

UP (melodic): A B C D E F# G# DOWN (natural ): A G F E D C B (A)

Hope I’ve got this right and it doesn’t confuse too many people.

One final thought, when it comes to composing and harmonising it is probably best to simply use the notes and chords that sound right to you and not to worry too much about the theory (although a little theoretical knowledge can be useful)

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My only suggestion on this would be replace Mode Major 4th and Major 5th with the standard nomenclature “Perfect 4th and Perfect 5th.” Minor housekeeping, imho, and you may have valid reasons for adopting Major 4th and Major 5th.