Aeolian Guitar Lesson – Step 5

Minor Scales Guitar Lesson - S5
The best way to play and understand Aeolian is to start with the Minor Pentatonic, and then add just two notes!

Aeolian Is The Natural Minor Scale

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 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 CAGED 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:1m345b7

When you can play as the videos in the playlist above demonstrate, in all 12 keys, you can move on and do this all over again, to Dorian. Only one note will be different!

Aeolian Improvisation

When you can play Aeolian in all shapes and keys you must stop playing it up and down and instead aim to discover the sound you can use to create melodies.

Start by improvising without any chords as I do in the video above.

Since you have already done this with the Minor Pentatonic, the Blues Scale and Conspirian, you know it’s all about target notes like m3rd and b7.

When you played the blues scale, you added the b5, with Aeolian, think of the 2 and b6 in the same way.

Use the Minor Pentatonic as your starting point, add the Aeolian intervals to it, and still target the m3rd and b7.

When you feel like you know the sound of Aeolain, find it in real songs, for example, Cannonball and Roxanne.

In the advanced acoustic course, you’ll find many more examples of Aeolian.

Aeolian | Related Pages

Minor Scales | Step-by-step guitar course

The Minor Scales Course cover Aeolian as the first mode.

Using the CAGED system and the Minor Pentatonic as our foundation, we can build all possible minor scales.

The minor scales course takes care of this in just 8 steps. All you have to do is put the time in, following the step-by-step format.

Advanced Acoustic Course

There are loads of Aeolian examples in the Advanced Acoustic Guitar Course.

In the Advanced Acoustic Course, we find huge chord extensions and unique chords using open strings. A few solos are incorporated as well.

Perhaps most importantly, we create 2nd guitar parts for most of these tunes, enabling you to play along with me and the singers as if we were a band.

Minor Pentatonic | Minor Scales

The 5 Minor Pentatonic shapes form the foundation for Aeolian.

This is where it all starts. You must learn all five positions of the Minor Pentatonic. Without this, the guitar will never make sense,

Using the video lessons demonstrating this in Am, you can move on once you have practised in all other keys as well.

Min7 | Arpeggios

The min7 arpeggios can be found inside Aeolian scale shapes.

In this first step, we practice the min7 arpeggios in all CAGED shapes. This is easy if you know your minor pentatonic shapes.

Video lessons are available starting on an A. To complete this step, you must play starting on the remaining 11 notes as well.

Guitar Chords | The CAGED System

To understand the Aeolian mode, you must connect them with the CAGED guitar chord shapes.

With traditional music theory, the stave, and a piano, you’ll get easy-to-understand chords but they will not help if you want to play chords on the guitar.

Instead, on the guitar we use chord shapes derived from the five open-position chords, C, A, G, E, and D, hence CAGED.


Chordacus can show you all Aeolian shapes in all keys.

Spytunes chords, scale, and arpeggio software, Chordacus is a refined version of the so-called CAGED system.

Now available as both a chromatic (original version) and “within a key”, developed with the help of a Spytunes student.

Cannonball | Chords + Lyrics

Cannonball Chords

You can learn how to play Cannonball by Damien Rice using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and Spytunes video guitar lessons.

Em Emadd9 Em Em7 | G G/A G/B |
Still a little bit of your taste in my mouth…

About me | Dan Lundholm

Dan Lundholm wrote this guitar lesson on Aeolian.

This was a guitar lesson about Aeolian, by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and learn guitar with Spytunes.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.

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