The Aeolian mode

Home of the VI chord

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A Aeolian scale shapes

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When to use the Aeolian mode

Also known as the natural minor scale, the Aeolian mode is the most common minor mode.

When songs are referred to as ‘being in minor’, what musicians actually mean is that the VI chord is the home chord. This is where Aeolian lives.

To learn how to write and improvise with Aeolian you must first learn all five shapes, take them around all keys, connect the shapes and finally run them through the cycle of 4th.

Do this and you will never forget your Aeolian scale shapes.

The best way to approach this scale is to add two notes to the Minor Pentatonic. Study the diagram below and make sure you can see the connection between the Aeolian mode and the Minor Pentatonic scale.

Only two notes have been added, the 2nd and the b6th.

Minor Pentatonic:1

Connect Aeolian scale shapes

When you can play this exercise in A, move on to all other 12 keys. Remember to push the BPM!

In the advanced course, we find more ways to practise this scale.

For example, we play all exercises backward. Starting at the highest point, moving down the neck instead.

We also look at changing the rhythm when playing it as well as playing it ‘in 3rds’.

When you take the advanced course I will, step by step, guide you to learning all modes, so much so that you will never forget them.

Aeolian and the cycle of 4th

This exercise takes the Aeolian mode and runs it through the cycle of 4th using the closest shape possible.

As always, this exercise should be pushed to high BPM levels for maximum effect.

The full pattern of the cycle of 4th exercise looks like this:

A Aeolian – Em shape, D Aeolian – Am shape, G Aeolian – Dm shape, C Aeolian – Gm shape, F Aeolian – Cm shape.

Then, move up a semitone from where you started and play Bb Aeolian in an Em shape.

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