MMC Lesson Six: What About Minor Keys or Chords?

  1. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    This lesson is part of a Study Group for Mandolin Master Class by Brad Laird.
    To start at the beginning, go to this thread:
    To purchase a copy of the book we're using, go here:
    List of all lessons in this series can be found here:

    Lesson Six: What About Minor Keys?

    In this lesson we study minor scales, chords and arpeggios. In the video segments, we’ll also explore some ‘Mandolin Theory’. This lesson will be big on music theory, and not so much on practice exercises.


    1. Study pages 14 – 15: What about minor chords? As you study, Make sure you understand the concept of
    Relative Minor.

    2. Find and “monkey around” with the relative minor scales for all the major scales you know.

    3. Study pages 49 – 51 in the Music Theory section. When you have understood the material, take the self-test and check your answers. If you are unclear about anything in this part of the music theory section, ask questions below. The music theory section presents the concepts of:
    a. The Dominant 7th Chord, 6th Chords, 9th Chords
    b. Diminished Chords (could be confusing)
    c. Augmented Chords, Suspended Chords

    4. Don’t break your head over all this material if you are new to music theory! Try to understand the concepts as much as possible, and take an “open book” self-test. Some of these concepts are more important or useful to beginners than other of the concepts. I will try to discuss some of these concepts on video, including: Dominant 7th – this is a very common chord form and used in thousands of songs, we normally simply call these the “7th” chords: G7, C7, D7, etc. and they should be learned as soon as you are able. Diminished Chords – the diminished chord is important because it is part of the diatonic harmony of each musical key. What does that mean? It means that in any major key, the VII chord is diminished (and in a minor key, the II chord is diminished). In one of the videos that go with the next lesson, I’ll try to make a simpler explanation of diminished chords than what is found in the book, if that is possible.

    5. Watch the videos that go with this lesson, and try out some of the examples on your mandolin.


    To get feedback, just post a comment or video in the lesson six thread.
    You can also ask Brad Laird about any of his material at this thread link which he monitors.

    Lesson Videos:


    PDF of this lesson


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  2. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Further Study: Using The Power of Tetrachords

    The Videos: I put a lot of work into the videos because I do not have state-of-the-art video equipment and a great deal of time is involved. I have a basic outline in my mind of what I want to share, and I simply shoot from the hip. Sometimes it can be a bit frustrating, because I find myself "rambling" too much and taking too long to present simple facts and concepts. So, the videos are what they are, a fellow student shooting from the hip in an attempt to explain and demonstrate a bit. The first three in this lesson drug on too much, and I found myself speaking incorrectly about what is "above" or "below" a note, etc. I tried to clarify with captions. I hope the videos are helpful to fellow woodshedders. Just assimilate what you can use, and discard the rest. The final two videos I'm a bit brusque just out of frustration with myself after making the first three, LOL.

    To find chord fingerings, you can use the chord finder here at the cafe under the "Learn/Listen" tab.

    Also, check out Brad's chord lessons:
    All Brad's Video Lessons
    Beginner Mandolin Chords
    Basic Chop Chords
    What is a chord?
    Moveable Major and Minor Chords
    Barre Chords and 7th Chords

    A book that I use and recommend for chords is:
    The Mandolin Chord Bible: 2,736 Chords. Tobe A. Richards example here

    What I like about this one is that the chord box diagrams have the intervals spelled out below the box.

    There are quite a few other chord books available. Niles Hokkanen has published a pocket guide to mandolin chords that can be quite handy for traveling with you.
  3. HonketyHank
    Thanks, Mark. I'm working on them.
  4. HonketyHank
    I just now finished up this series (6.x) of videos. I am glad you mentioned to have the mandolin in hand while viewing. It's too easy for me to listen and say "yeah, yeah, I get it, yeah, ..." and not really ever play it. But with mandolin in hand it is very easy to play along and that is much better.
  5. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Thanks Hank
  6. Papa P
    Papa P
    Thanks so much, Mark. You are so right about having the mandolin in hand! Thanks for all that you have put into these lessons and sharing a part of yourself with us! I'm about 6 months after the fact for your presentations. Your lessons appeared at the appropriate for me and will be there when someone else is ready. I went through MMC by myself about year and half ago just after picking up the mandolin. I picked up a great deal then and now you're shining more light on this great course. Thanks, again.
  7. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Phil, your feedback is very much appreciated. I got very frustrated with myself and with my (lack of) video software during the making of this very lesson, and I've sort of laid off since then. I have started on writing an article or two, and started a couple videos as well, but just haven't been quite on track yet. Henry stepped up and made a couple more lessons after this one.

    I do have the desire and motivation to make the next few, but so far the time to do it and the planning how to do it within my limitations hasn't developed yet. At this point, I'm thinking the next new lesson(s) (#7 & # 10) will be out early in February.
  8. Bluegrasscal_87
    On page 50 the book discusses major 9th chords again but this time doesn't include the 7th note. Is this different from the five-note major 9th chord discussed just a few pages earlier (1-3-5-7-9) or just a simplified way of playing the same chord?
  9. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    It's just simplified versions that drop the 7th there, rather than a different chord.
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