Minor Harmony Clarification

Question by Guillaume

Hello Marc-André,

In your (excellent) lesson on chord progressions, when getting to minor harmony , you write the following:

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Let’s play the diatonic cycle in C minor (same notes as Eb major).

As you can see, the roman numerals are the same as in major. It is only slightly altered to fit the minor quality:

IV – bVII – bIII – bVI – II – V – I

I’m not sure I got what you meant by this… what slight alteration are we talking about, and how does it fit the minor harmony quality ?

Merci d’avance,

Guillaume


M-A’s Answer:

Bonjour Guillaume,

To make a long story short …

Here we have the C major scale:

C D E F G A B

and we identify these chords/degrees with roman numerals :

I II III IV V VI VII

In the key of C minor, the scale is :
(same 7 notes as Eb major)

C D Eb F G Ab Bb

Hence the roman numeral become…

I II bIII IV V bVI bVII

In the end, it means that the natural minor scale has flat 3rd, 6th and 7th degrees (when compared to the major scale).

Let me know if it answers your question about minor harmony!

Marc-Andre Seguin

PS :

Remember that the minor scale exists in 3 forms.
(all in C for demonstration purposes)

Melodic minor : C D Eb F G A B

Harmonic minor : C D Eb F G Ab B

Natural minor : C D Eb F G Ab Bb

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