F# Natural Minor Scale and Song Transcription

Posted on October 29, 2010

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Hello and welcome to part 2. This is the addition to the A major scale study, the introduction to the Natural Minor scale. 

Every major scale has a natural minor scale occuring “naturally” within it. This is fascinating because if we take the same exact scale but start it on a different note the entire sound and feel of the scale changes.

When we hear a chord we hear it from the bottom note up. Which means we hear in relation to the lowest note. This occurs with scales as well except that we hear the notes of the scale in relation to their starting point.

An A major scale has the intervals of a major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th and major 7th. These intervals names as such because of their step relation to the root. The name given to them reflects the way our ears are percieving it.

Using the same collection of notes yet starting on a different point in the scale, we would not hear the same interval qualities. This is where modes are born and in my opinion this is where the fun starts to happen!

The natural minor scale in ANY major key is built from the 6th degree. The 6th degree of A major is F#. Now let us take all the same A major notes and start on F#:

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

Here is a tab/notation of the scale.

Listen in MP3 format: F# minor

Notice the change in sound. What differences can you hear? How does this scale make you feel? This scale is important in our lessons here because it is the 1st derivative of the major scale and deviation from the major scale sound. When we have this difference in sound, it allows for more expression!

My absolute favorite F# minor tune and probably the reason I like to jump into coverage of natural minor scales so quickly is Randy Rhoads guitar riff from “Crazy Train”. Oh yeah, I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it. That song is very nicely in the key of F# minor. I have transcribed bass parts as well as the beginning guitar riff. Here it is!

Listen in MP3 format: Crazy Train-beginning bass riff

Here is the next Bass part which is played during the verses. What I love about this part is the Bass player is using the major 7th note (G#) and that is not very common in rock music. Typically the 7th is lowered a half step to retain a darker sound.

Take note of the staccato markings above and below some of the notes. Staccato means to play the note a bit shorter than is written. This is how you will achieve the crisp attack he is getting in the bass line. 

Listen in MP3 format: Crazy Train-Bass-verse

The bridge section:

Listen in MP3 format: Crazy Train-bridge

Last but certainly not least we come to the guitar riff. Guitarist Randy Rhoads was also influenced by classical music and I wonder if possibly some of that influence is present in this riff. This is one of my absolute favorite rock-n-roll riffs. I wrote it out in bass clef so us bass players could have some fun with it!

Listen in MP3 format: Crazy Train-Guitar riff

That about sums it up for me this week. I really hope you enjoyed the 2 tunes covered, “Stir it Up” by Bob Marley and “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhoads. I have always thought of scales as broccoli, they are good for us and keep us going. Being able to learn a scale and immediately be able to play a tune, now that is like having broccoli and ice cream all at once! Ok, maybe that’s kind of gross but I am sure you understand what I am saying here.

Enjoy your BASS!

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