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Music Theory Comprehensive: Part 3 - Minor Keys and More

A Complete College-Level Music Theory Curriculum. This is Part 3: Minor keys, Circle of Fifths, and Compound Meters.
4.8 (28 ratings)
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481 students enrolled
Created by Jason Allen
Last updated 6/2016
English English
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  • 4 hours on-demand video
  • 11 Articles
  • 11 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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For years I've been teaching Music Theory in the college classroom. These classes I'm making for Udemy use the same syllabus I've used in my college classes for years, at a fraction of the cost. I believe anyone can learn Music Theory - and cost shouldn't be a barrier.

Recently I was named as a semi-finalist for the Grammy Foundation's Music Educator of the Year award because of my in-person university classes. Now I'm taking those classes to Udemy in an online format in order to reach more students, and give them the joy of Music Theory.

My approach to music theory is to minimize the memorization. Most of these concepts you can learn by just understanding why chords behave in certain ways. Once you understand those concepts, you can find any scale, key, or chord that exists. Even invent your own.

This class is a Comprehensive class - it will have many parts, going through my entire annual curriculum.

This class is Part 3: Minor Keys, The Circle of Fifths, and Compound Meters.

Throughout this class, I'll be providing you with many worksheets for you to practice the concepts on. If you get stuck, you can review the videos or post a question, and I'll back to it as fast as possible. Also in this class I have several complete analysis projects that we will complete together - just like in my college classes.

In this class, we will cover:

  • My approach to Music Theory
  • Tools you will need to learn Music Theory quickly and efficiently
  • Key Signatures
  • Diatonic Chord Progressions
  • Tendency Chords
  • Using the Circle of Fifths for Songwriting and Composition
  • Borrowing from Closely Related Keys
  • Scale Degree Names
  • Tendency Tones
  • Compound Meters
  • Compound Meter Signatures
  • Reading and Writing Compound Meters
  • Triplets, dubplets, and Quadruplets
  • Finding Minor keys by alternations to Major
  • Patterns in Minor keys
  • Relative Minor keys
  • Parallel Minor keys
  • Minor keys in the Circle of Fifths
  • Using Minor Keys for Songwriting and Composition
  • Diatonic Chord Progressions in Minor
  • The V Chord and Minor and the Leading Tone Problem
  • Harmonic Minor Scales
  • Melodic Minor Scales
  • ...and much, much more!

And of course, once you sign up for Part 3 - Minor Keys, Circle of Fifths, and Compound Meter, you automatically get huge discounts to all the upcoming parts of this class.

You will not have another opportunity to learn Music Theory in a more comprehensive way than this. Start here.

Dr. Jason Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater. His 2015 album, Aniscorcia, reaching the CMJ Top200 Charts and radio broadcasts nationwide. In 2014 he was named a semi-finalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award.

He currently as an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, and the CEO of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.

Praise for classes by Dr. Jason Allen:

  • "Without a doubt the best explanation and east of use that one can get. It leaves you enough room to go explore. The classes go by quick, so you can be on your way at being proficient. What are you wait for!"

  • "Amazing - Seriously Loved It! I took all his courses and have to say I'm so happy! Learnt loads! Jason is an awesome teacher!"

  • "I have never had any formal training in music at all. Trying to learn all the notes and how everything translated was a serious challenge. After going through this class, Dr. J has totally brought down the barriers. The content was very useful and was easy to grasp for me."

  • "I like these courses because you can get up and running quickly without having to spend hours of time wading through TMI (too much information!). Jason hits the high points but shows you what you need to know. Thanks!"

  • "I've watched many other videos on scales and chords before, however, this one has been the best. I now understand minor scales and chords and even how to analyze songs. It really gave me the confidence to start producing music because I feel like I have some structure and guidelines to follow. AWESOME!"

  • "Clear and Informative - Jason has a clear uncluttered style (with the important dashes of humor) of presentation that is focused on the important key aspects of this course. Recommended for those starting out!"

  • "Dr. Allen does it again with his music theory series. This course really opened up everything I learned from the 1st section, and now I understand more about the composition side of things for music. I highly highly recommend this course to anyone!!! Really opened my eyes to many things I wasn't aware of."

  • "The Best Teacher Ever, who makes you understand the ins & outs of Music Theory by all means without giving what you don't want to know."
Who is the target audience?
  • This course is designed for anyone who has wondered about music theory and is ready to fully explore it.
  • Songwriters, producers, and instrumentalists will benefit from this course by understanding music on a deeper level.
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What Will I Learn?
Identify minor keys by sight and sound
Read compound meters
Create music using the circle of fifths and "closely related keys"
Find any chord, key, or scale by applying principals - not memorization
View Curriculum
  • Students who have taken Music Theory Comprehensive Part 1 - How To Read Music will benefit from some concepts, but it is not required.
  • Students who have taken Music Theory Comprehensive Part 2 - Chords, Scales, and Keys will benefit from some concepts, but it is not required.
  • This courses assumes students know the basics of how to read music. (Those who can not identify notes in treble clef should start with Music Theory Comprehensive Part 1)
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 55 Lectures Collapse All 55 Lectures 03:50:33
Welcome & Overview
3 Lectures 07:39

Welcome! In this video I'll walk through what we are going to cover in this class.

Preview 03:22

There are 2 tools we will be using throughout this course - and lucky for you, they are both free!

Preview 04:12

Print out a few sheets of this, and keep it handy throughout this course!

[DOWNLOAD] Blank Staff Paper
3 Lectures 11:21

As we move into Minor Keys, we really need to know our major key signatures. Lets do a quick review.

Preview 04:23

We are soon going to be working on minor key diatonic chord progressions. So it will be important that we build off of our major key diatonic chord progressions. 

Diatonic Chord Progressions

One of the biggest oddities about the minor keys is the lack of a leading tone. Before we get into that, lets do a quick review of the tendency chords.

Tendency Chords and the V Chord
The Circle of Fifths
3 Lectures 20:28

You've probably seen this diagram hanging on a wall before. It is much more useful than you think.

Preview 07:39

In this video I'll show you how to use the circle of fifths to generate new ideas for songwriting and composition.

Using the Circle of Fifths for Songwriting and Composition

"Closely Related Keys" is a new concept to us, but one that is easiest to see using the circle of fifths. 

Borrowing from Closely Related Keys
Scale Degree Names
4 Lectures 15:12

The proper names for the scale degrees tell us a bit about how they function.

Preview 03:28

We've used the term "tonic" before - now we will learn the rest of the terms.

The Scale Degree Names

Most tones have a direction they want to move. 

Tendency Tones and Direction

In this section there is a worksheet for you to download and try these concepts out for yourself!

[DOWNLOAD] Worksheet No. 1
Compound Meters
5 Lectures 23:15

Time to talk about compound meters in a little more detail than before. 

Definitions of Compound Meters

First, lets take a look at the 3/8, 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8 meter.

Compound Meter Signatures

Now lets look at a few different charts that show how this works.

Another Perspective

Time to see this in action!

Example Piece

In this section there is a worksheet for you to download and try these concepts out for yourself!

[DOWNLOAD] Worksheet No. 2
Triplets, Duplets, and Quadruplets
3 Lectures 08:25

Triplets cause a little bit of a problem with rhythms that we've seen so far.

Triplets: When Rhythms Don't Fit Into the Grid

In this video we will walk through how triplets work in music notation. 

How Triplets Work

These don't just happen in groups of 3 - there are a few other options as well.

Other Tuplets
Minor Keys
9 Lectures 43:40

Welcome to Minor Keys!

Preview 06:16

We are going to look at a few different ways to find the notes of the minor key. First up: as altering the major scale.

Alternations to Major

The second way to find the minor is with the familiar whole step and half step pattern.

Whole-Half Pattern

A third way to find the notes of the minor scale is through something called Relative keys. 

Relative Minor

Our fourth way to find the notes of the minor scale is by using something called the Parallel Minor scale.

Parallel Minor

I made these videos for another project, but they turned out so well I thought I would share them you.

A Few Bonus Videos

This is the animated Natural Minor scale video I made.

Natural Minor Scales

This is the animated video explaining keys and scales. 

Keys and Scales

In this section there is a worksheet for you to download and try these concepts out for yourself!

[DOWNLOAD] Worksheet 3
Minor Keys and the Circle of Fifths
3 Lectures 06:25

Back to the Circle of Fifths - this time we will add Minor Keys!

Minor keys and the Circle of Fifths

Lets update the graphic we used to show the Minor Keys.

New Circle of Fifths Graphics

So far we've had 2 options for "Closely related keys". Now we have 5.

More Options for Closely Related Keys
Diatonic Chord Progressions in Minor
5 Lectures 24:12

The diatonic chord progression is one of the most powerful songwriting tools we have.

Why we care about Diatonic Chord Progressions

The pattern in minor keys is totally different - or is it?

The Pattern

Using relative keys is a handy way to memorize the diatonic chord progression in minor.

Diatonic Chord Progressions in Relative Keys

One of the biggest problems we have in minor chord progressions is minor five chord.

Diatonic Chord Progression in Minor - The V Chord and the Leading Tone

In this section there is a worksheet for you to download and try these concepts out for yourself!

[DOWNLOAD] Worksheet No. 4
Minor Scale Variations: Harmonic and Melodic Minor Scales
6 Lectures 20:57
The Three Types of Minor Scales

The Harmonic Minor Scale

The Melodic Minor Scale

Example: Greensleeves

Comparing the Harmonic and Melodic Minor Scales

In this section there is a worksheet for you to download and try these concepts out for yourself!

[DOWNLOAD] Worksheet No. 5
2 More Sections
About the Instructor
4.5 Average rating
3,558 Reviews
26,123 Students
53 Courses
Ph.D / Ableton Certified Trainer

J. Anthony Allen has worn the hats of composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multi-media artist, performer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Allen is a versatile creator whose diverse project experience ranges from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio. An innovator in the field of electronic performance, Allen performs on a set of “glove” controllers, which he has designed, built, and programmed by himself. When he’s not working as a solo artist, Allen is a serial collaborator. His primary collaborative vehicle is the group Ballet Mech, for which Allen is one of three producers.

J. Anthony Allen teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN., and is an Ableton Live Certified Trainer. He is a co-founder and owner of Slam Academy, a multimedia educational space in downtown Minneapolis. Recently, Allen founded Hackademica – an innovative net-label for new music.

J. has a PhD in music composition, 2 Master’s degrees in music composition and electronic music, and a bachelors degree in guitar performance. Through his academic travels, Dr. Allen has received numerous awards along the way.

If you run into him on the street, he prefers to be addressed as J. (as in, Jay.)

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