Tech Tip:Which Minor Scale Should I Use?

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Simon Newell; United Kingdom


Q: If I play a Dm chord progression created from the key of C, can I play a D Aeolian minor scale over it?


A: Simon here is the way it works:


D is the second degree of the key of C major and it is a Dorian minor mode. You can build a chord progression focusing on the D minor chord using all the chords from the key of C major chord scale and play the D Dorian minor scale over it and it will sound great. Since the D Dorian mode comes from the key of C Major, the notes will be the same. They're just in a different order: D-E-F-G-A-B-C.


As for playing a D Aeolian minor scale over this same progression, here is the deal: D Aeolian, which is also referred to as a Natural minor, is formed from the key of F Major (its relative minor scale) and in this key there is a Bb note, but in the key of C major there is a B natural note. So you can play the D Natural minor scales over the progression, but for the best results don't use a Bm7b5 or B diminished chord in the progression. (This is not a very common chord to use in the key of C major anyway.)