Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana is the PRS toting, Mesa Boogie frying latin rock-fusion guitarist.

Smooth live with Rob Thomas

Black Magic Woman Guitar Lesson.

Samba Pa Ti Guitar Lesson

Europa Guitar Lesson

Bella Guitar Lesson

Oye Como Va Guitar Lesson

Supernatural tab book

PRS Santana

PRS manufactured the now discontinued Santana MD shown below and now produces the budget SE Santana.

PRS Santana back


SongSeeds logo

MINOR SCALE THREE CHORD TRICKS WITH PHRYGIAN SECOND AND HARMONIC MINOR FIFTH SUBSTITUTIONS

As explained in BLOGoZON No. 85 every natural minor scale generates a predictable series of chords (built using a mixture of major and minor third intervals); with the simplest having 3 notes (triads) and the most complicated using all 7 notes of the major scale (thirteenths).

The simplest major scale, from a note naming point of view, is C major as it has ZERO sharp () or flat () notes. Similarly the A natural minor scale is the simplest minor scale (as it is really the C major scale re-ordered to start on A natural rather than C natural); a table of the scale follows:-

INTERVAL NUMBER

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

NOTE NAMES

A

B

C

D

E

F

G


Using the 7 chords generated from the natural minor scale (Aeolian mode) there are a total of 35 chord progressions (when 3 chords are selected at one time) and these relationships have been tabulated for A minor to the right.

As demonstrated by the table shown right each chord appears a total of 15 times (from a total of 35 chord progressions)

The presence of the diminished chord produces a big problem from a pop music point of view (rather than jazz) as the sound of this chord is considered too difficult for most listeners.

As the Bdim chord is contained in three-sevenths of the available chord progressions it leaves a limited number of usable 3 chord tricks (20 out of an original 35); hence an alternative chord is required to replace it.

The solution to the replacement of the Bdim chord is arrived at by examining the complete minor scale harmony chart for all 15 key signatures (shown below) and identifying how many times an Am chord appears.

A minor harmony chart


Am as Im, IVm and Vm

The Am chord appears a total of three times in the 15 available key signatures:-.

This produces two available solutions to the replacement of the Bdim chord in the 15 chord progressions where it makes an appearance (see above);this BLOGoZON examines the substitution chord produced where Am appears as the number Vm chord in the key of D minor.

The table that follows shows the natural minor scale generated harmony (3 note scale chords) for the keys of both A minor and D minor with the number Vm chord of D minor (Am) highlighted.

Am and Dm harmony

If the scale chords for the key of D minor are rearranged so that A minor is the starting chord this is known as the harmonized A phrygian mode; which is tabulated below:-

A phrygian harmony

Thus the II chord of the harmonized A phrygian mode (B major chord) can be used as a substitution (replacement) chord for the IIdim of the harmonized A minor scale (B diminished chord); as highlighted in the tables that follow:-

A phrygian mode substitution table

The table above can also be generated for all seven SHARP minor scales as defined by the CYCLE OF FIFTHS

Minor harmony with phrygian secong substitution

Similarly the table can be produced for the FLAT minor scales as defined by the CYCLE OF FOURTHS

Minor harmony with phrygian second substitution

Again using the 7 chords generated from the A minor scale (Aeolian mode) there are a total of 35 chord progressions (when 3 chords are selected at one time) and these relationships have been tabulated for a minor to the right.

As previously demonstrated above each chord appears a total of 15 times (in the table shown right) and this now includes the substitution chord B.

The problem sound created by the difficult Bdim chord has been solved by replacing it (substituting) with the B major chord.

As the Bdim chord was contained in three-sevenths of the available chord progressions it brings the number of usable 3 chord tricks back up to 35 (where Bdim represented 15 out of the original 35 chord progressions).

A minor harmony with phrygian 2nd substitution

To enhance the sound of a PERFECT CADENCE (V to I - Em to Am in the key of A minor) the number V chord is often replaced by a DOMINANT SEVENTH chord with the same root note ( i.e. in the key of A minor an E7 replaces the Em ).

This chord substitution is derived from the HARMONIC MINOR SCALE which differs from the natural minor scale by only one note.

In the natural minor scale the seventh note is a G natural - which produces the MINOR SEVENTH INTERVAL- whereas the harmonic minor scale has a G sharp note which generates the MAJOR SEVENTH INTERVAL.

The A harmonic minor scale can be tabulated as follows:-

INTERVAL NUMBER

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

NOTE NAMES

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

Harmonizing the A harmonic minor scale in thirds (i.e. start on each note in turn taking every other letter of the scale until 3 notes have been accumulated e.g. A, C, E – A minor; B, D, F – B diminished;
C, E, G – C augmented; D, F, A – D minor; E, G, B - E major; F, A, C – F major; G, B, D – G diminished) produces the following table:-

A HARMONIC MINOR SCALE HARMONY

Im

IIdim

IIIaug

IVm

V

VI

VII

Am

Bdim

Caug

Dm

E

F

Gdim

The substitution chord E major has been highlighted in the next table:-

A harmonic minor harmony

The E major produced by the harmonic minor scale replaces the E minor in addition to the B major (phrygian second substitution) replacing the Bdim in the key of A minor as follows:-

A minor with harmonic minor fifth and phrygian second substitutions

The table above can also be generated for all seven SHARP minor scales as defined by the CYCLE OF FIFTHS

Sharp harmony

Similarly the table can be produced for the FLAT minor scales as defined by the CYCLE OF FOURTHS

Flat harmony

Substituting for both the Bdim and Em chords in the A natural minor series of scale chords produces a further 35 chord progressions (when 3 chords are selected at one time) and these relationships have been tabulated to the right.

A minor harmony with phrygian 2nd and harmonic minor 5th substitutions


Every one of the 35 numerically ordered 3 CHORD TRICKS (progressions) can be re-ordered a further 6 times, which produces a total of 210 potential SONGSEEDS for each and every key signature. An example table follows for chord Progression No.3 which has a generalised relationship of Im, II, V :-

Progression No.3


The question is "Has any of this music theory nonsense been used to write any decent songs that both sounded good and made some money for the writer?"

Fortunately the answer is a resounding YES and as Carlos Santana is the subject of this weeks BLOGoZON the song in question is one of his biggest hit records - Smooth - which uses a single 3-chord progression which involves a HARMONIC MINOR FIFTH SUBSTITUTION for the verse/chorus chord sequence.

The song in question is taken from Santana's 1999 hit album Supernatural written by Itaal Shur and
Rob Thomas; a Im, V, VI (Am-E7-F) chord sequence is rearranged to produce the multi-platinuum selling three-chord trick Im, VI , V (Am-F-E7) .

Smooth - Progression No.13


Carlos Santana

Give me your heart,
make it real or else forget about it.

....Zon Brookes

Supernatural


Return to top of page ^