Adding Leading Tones in Natural Minor / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Changing the VII to a Leading Tone

This time we will be taking a look at why there are 3 types of minor scales.

As mentioned in our previous article, we will look at using the diatonic chords of a natural minor key to create cadences as well as looking at versions containing the leading tone which creates a powerful “pull” towards the tonic/etc..
Take a look at articles 27~31, and 45~50 to brush up on your knowledge.

The leading tone is used to “lead” into the tonic a half-step above it.
In the natural minor, the note is a whole note below the tonic, making it a sub-tonic, but lets try raising this by a half-step to make it a leading tone.

We’ll be looking at the key of C minor.


First, lets compare the natural minor with this new scale.

The new scale has a distinct sound between the b6 and 7.

If we play it like this we get a very classical sounding phrase.


It has a beautiful flow while still having a minor tonality.
We will look at this in more detail later, but lets first see what kind of change this sound is bringing.

Minor Diatonic Chords from a Scale with a Leading Tone

Though we will see chords we haven’t briefed on yet, lets make some diatonic chords using this scale.
We will do so following the steps similar to our 46th article.

We will stack the notes in 3rd intervals (skip 1 inbetween).

  • Triads


  • 4-Note (7th) Chords


By doing so, the 5th chord in this scale contains the leading tone as a triad, and contains the leading tone and tritone as the 7th V7 chord.

We can consider just this area to be the same as in a major key.


Comparing Cadences in Minor Scales

Lets try filling in the T→D→T cadence for these examples.

We will compare the natural minor that goes from the Vm/Vm7 to Im with the version that contains the V/V7 with the leading tone to the Im.

The key will be in C minor with a “break” inbetween to make things sound more obvious.

Though it feels concluded, it doesn’t have that sense of relief from tension like it does in a major key. Though this is a great progression used in many songs, it leads to a very matter-of-fact ending.

Like in a major key, we have recreated the tension being relieved in the final chord in a minor key as well. Though it is a half-step different from the major progression, now the minor key has a strong sense of resolution as well.


In our next article, we will keep this difference in mind and begin applying some of the steps we looked at for major keys to minor examples.

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.