E minor scale

Interested in learning the guitar?

The E minor scale is a great place to start for beginner guitar players. It’s one of the most commonly used scales in music and has a really beautiful sound. In this lesson, we’ll teach you all about the notes of the E minor scale, as well as some common chord progressions and songs that are written in this key.

Once you’ve learned the basics, we’ll show you how to play the scale in different positions on your guitar. This will help you apply it to real-world musical situations. And finally, we’ll give you a few tips on how to practice so that you can improve your playing skills.

Read the complete article below and start learning about the E minor scale today!

Introduction To E Minor Scale

The E natural minor is an important scale, particularly for Classical guitarists, as much of their work is in this key. In the standard tuning, four strings are tuned to the notes of the E Minor chord. It finds a lot of use in heavy metal, as the lowest note on your guitar is the E on the low e string.

The key characteristics attributed by Ernst Pauer to E minor are “grief, mournfulness, & restlessness of spirit.” The symphonies produced in E minor key are listed here.

Minor Scale Structure

A natural minor scale with seven notes is another scale after the major scale that qualifies as a diatonic scale and has the following scale formula:

{W H W W H W W} or {T S T T S T T} or {2 1 2 2 1 2 2}

The first formula shows any natural minor scale in terms of the whole steps and half steps, while the second one shows it in the units of semitones and whole tones. As you are aware, one semitone is equivalent to a half step, and a whole step is equivalent to two half steps.

The 3rd formula shows the number of semitones between the individual notes of the scale. As the three formulas are equivalent, you can use anyone you are comfortable with.

A more detailed structural representation of any minor scale is

R – T – M2 – S – m3 – T – P4 – T – P5 – S – m6 – T – m7 – T – R(O), where R(O) is the tonic note an octave higher.

Intervals Of Minor Scales

The intervals of a natural minor scale are shown in the table below:

Between the NotesSeparation in Notes.The Interval from Root
Root & 2nd NoteTMajor 2nd
2nd & 3rd NoteSMinor 3rd
3rd & 4th NoteTPerfect 4th
4th & 5th NoteTPerfect 5th
5th & 6th NoteSMinor 6th
6th & 7th NoteTMinor 7th
7th Note & OctaveTOctave

The summary of the intervals from the table is R – M2 – m3 – P4 – P5 – m6 – m7 – R(O). As you can see, the natural minor scale has a lowered 3rd, 6th, and 7th interval as compared to the parallel major scale.

In music theory, there are two more types of minor scales, making a total of three types, as shown:

  1. The Harmonic Minor scale with a raised 7th note from the natural minor scale, resulting in the intervals R – M2 – m3 – P4 – P5 – m6 – M7 – R(O). This is done to overcome the lower resolution tendencies of the sub-tonic note at scale degree 7.
  2. The Melodic Minor Scale with a raised 6th and 7th in ascending order. It is the same as the natural minor in the descending direction. It has the intervals R – M2 – m3 – P4 – P5 – M6 – M7 – R(O), while ascending.

Notes of the E Natural Minor Scale

You can get the notes of the E natural minor scale, represented as the Em scale, by using E as the root note in the detailed structural representation above.

R – E – T – F# – S – G – T – A – T – B – S – C – T – D – T – E (O).

Hence the notes of the E natural minor scale are {E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E(O)}, where E(O) is the E note one octave above the root. As you can see, its key signature has one sharp and no flat. You can play it on a piano keyboard using six white and one black key.

E Harmonic Minor Scale notes are {E, F#, G, A, B, C, D#, E(O)}, with a raised 7th.

E Melodic Minor Scale notes in the ascending direction are {E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D#, E(O)}, with a raised 6th and 7th.

Scale Degrees

The intervals between the notes of the E natural minor scale, its note names, and their scale degrees are shown in the table below for easy reference.

Intervals Root M2 m3 P4 P5 m6 m7P8
Scale Degrees12345671(8)
Notes E F#GABCDE(O)

Diagram Of This Scale On The Treble And Bass Clef:

The diagram of the E natural minor scale is shown in the ascending and descending directions on the treble clef and the bass clef below.

Treble Clef:

E Minor Scale in Asc and Desc Order on Treble Clef

Bass Clef:

E Minor Scale in Asc and Desc Order on Bass Clef

E Minor Scale Guitar Positions

All the notes of the E minor scale are shown on the guitar fretboard up to the 15th fret in the complete fretboard diagram below. You can see the complete E minor in a straight line on the D string.

E Minor Scale up to 15th fret

The five scale patterns based on the CAGED system are shown in the five diagrams below. As you may be aware, the CAGED system is based on the five major open-position chord shapes. We will discuss each pattern below. Look at each pattern carefully and note the major features as highlighted below.

Pattern 1

E Minor Scale Pattern P1

Pattern 2

E Minor Scale Pattern P2

Pattern 3

E Minor Scale Pattern P3

Pattern 4

E Minor Scale Pattern P4

Pattern 5

E Minor Scale Pattern P5

1st Pattern

The 1st pattern is based on the open E shape and

  1. It spans over four frets from the 2nd to the 5th fret.
  2. It has two root notes.
  3. The lowest root note is on the 2nd fret of the 4th string.

To play, you must follow the below sequence:

  • Start with the 4th string and play E, F#, and G with the index finger for the E on the 2nd fret, the middle finger for the 3rd fret, the ring finger for the 4th fret playing F# & the little finger for the 5th fret playing the G note.
  • Move onto the 3rd string & play A, B, & C, then the 2nd string, playing D and E, and finish till the A on the 1st string.
  • Reverse all the way back to the F# on the 6th string.
  • Again go up the pitches till the E on the 4th string.

2nd Pattern

The 2nd pattern is based on the D shape and

  1. It spans over five frets from the 4th to the 8th fret.
  2. It also has two root notes.
  3. The lowest root note is on the 7th fret of the 5th string.

3rd Pattern

The 3rd pattern is based on the open C chord shape and

  1. It spreads over only four frets from the 7th to the 10th fret.
  2. It has two root notes.
  3. The lowest root note is on the 7th fret of the 5th string. Note that it is the same position of the root note as the 2nd pattern because the patterns are overlapping.

4th Pattern

The 4th pattern is based on the open A chord shape and

  1. It lies between the 9th to the 13th fret.
  2. It has three root notes.
  3. The lowest root note is on the 12th fret of the 6th string.

5th Pattern

The last pattern is based on the open G chord shape and

  1. It lies between the 11th to the 15th fret.
  2. It also has three root notes.
  3. The lowest root note is on the 12th fret of the 6th string in the same position as the 4th pattern.

Practicing the Scale Patterns

We have shown you this in detail for the D Major and E major scales. You may refer to the details there as the major concepts are the same.

What Are The Chords Of the E Minor key?

The scale degrees, chord designation in Roman Numerals, chord quality, and the chord names for the E minor scale are shown in the table below:

Scale Degrees1234567
Chord DesignationiiidimIIIivvVIVII
Chord NamesEmF#dimGAmBmCD
Chord QualityminordiminishedMajorminorminorMajorMajor

With a seven-note natural minor scale, you can build seven chords with each scale degree as the first note as described below:

  1. Three major chords with chord designation III, VI, & VII. These are the G Major chord, C Major, and D Major.
  2. Three minor chords – i, iv, and v – E minor chord, A minor, and B minor.
  3. One diminished chord – ii°, F#dim.

What Are The Notes In These Chords?

As you undoubtedly know, a triad chord is built by stacking the interval of thirds over the root note. The three types of chords that result from the minor keys are shown above. The seven triads in the key of E minor are shown in the table below with their notes and intervals.

Scale DegreesIntervalsChord NotesChord Name
1R – E – m3 – G – M3 – BE G BEm
2R – F# – m3 – A – m3 – CF# A CF#dim
3R – G – M3 – B – m3 – DG B DG
4R – A – m3 – C – M3 – EA C EAm
5R – B – m3 – D – M3 – F#B D F#Bm
6R – C – M3 – E – m3 – GC E GC
7R – D – M3 – F# – m3 – AD F# AD

Popular Chord Progressions In The Key Of E Minor

Relative & Parallel Major Of E Minor

All the major and minor scales have their relative scales that share the same notes among them. The relative major of the E minor scale is the G Major scale with the notes {G A B C D E F#}. The tonic note of the relative major is at the scale degree 3 of any minor scale. In Em, G is at the scale degree 3. YOU can add three semitones to the tonic of any minor scale to get the relative major scale or check the Circle of Fifths.

The parallel major of E minor is the E major scale, with only difference in the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes.

Songs In The Key Of E Minor

The popular songs in the E minor key are:

  1. “Living On the Prayer” by Bon Jovi.
  2. “Can’t Stop” by Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
  3. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix.
  4. “Voulez-Vous” by ABBA.
  5. “The Eye of The Storm” by Disturbed.
  6. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.
  7. “Take Me Away” by Avril Lavigne.
  8. “Should’ve Said No” by Taylor Swift.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is evident that E minor scale is a widely used scale in guitar playing. This concludes our article on the introduction to E Minor Scale. We hope that this was helpful to you and please provide comments in the below section if you want any clarifications.

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