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Scales and Modes With Joshua Barnhart: Aeolian

Meet Joshua Barnhart –

Part six; we’re looking at Aeolian this time. Aeolian aka natural minor is one of the other tonic function tonal centers in the church modes. Many times it’s used as a deceptive resolution point because of its natural stability and change of the harmonic center.

Aeolian’s signature note is its minor 6th, which also happens to be its most unstable note. In fact if Aeolian didn’t have that minor 6th it would be even more stable tonic than its relative major.

So the exercise for today is call internal triads. The idea is that you’re trying to play all the triads that exist in the key all in one position. Work your way up the scale and back down. Now there are several ways to do this. And for simplicities sake lets pick A minor. One is to pick one direction, are you going up to A or down to A, and to the same direction for the triads.

Two is to pick a direction, and pick the opposite direction.

And the third is to alternate the triad direction while moving up or down the scale.

This becomes a great tool when you’re learning to walk. Being able to hit every triad with very little shifting is priceless to a working bassist reading down a burning chart for the first time.

Some other great things you can do with this is to try and play each triad in first inversion, then second, also starting each triad on the note that is one scale degree down from where the last triad ends no matter what the inversion is, and finally whichever inversion starts on the first 3 notes of the scale. Adding 7,9,11, and 13th extensions on each triad.

As always take your time, get it right. Perfect practice makes perfect.

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