C minor Backing Track

Written by Rob in 'Backing Tracks'

Following on in our series of guitar backing tracks, we get to C minor. I will eventually have one of these in each major and minor key, and last time was C major, so this week it’s C minor.

Minor keys are a bit more complicated than major keys, and I’ll explain why, but first, here is the tab to this backing track. I’ve only written the chords over the first two repetitions, but it continues like that 4 times, and then ends on a C major chord (which is something known as a Picardy Third).

What is a Minor Key

In a major key things are relatively simple. You have your major scale, and the chords are taken from that scale. The chords you get from each note of the major scale follow the same pattern.so if you want to write something in C major, you have these chords:

  • C major
  • D minor
  • E minor
  • F major
  • G major
  • A minor
  • B diminished
  • A chord sequence using any combination of only those chords would be in the key of C. That’s how it works.To solo over that progression, you only need the C major, or C major pentatonic scale. It’s pretty simple in that respect.

    However, in C minor, you have three scales to choose from:

    • C natural minor
    • C harmonic minor
    • C melodic minor

    Now, without going into too much detail, we can create chords in the same way using these three scales. This is why minor chord progressions can be much more complex, with scarier looking chords.

    Soloing over the Chord Progression

    The chord sequence in the video is no exception. The main verse uses the four barsequence:

    C minor – A flat Major – B diminished 9 (no 3rd) – C minor

    Now, how on earth do you solo to that?!

    Well, the first an last chords are easy- you just need the C minor pentatonic scale. You can- of course- use any C minor scale, including the three I mentioned above. There is also the option of using a mode over these chords- any mode with a minor third and perfect 5th, to fit the chord.

    The A flat major isn’t too complicated either- I’ve taken it directly from the C natural minor scale. So the C natural minor, or C minor pentatonic scales will still work over the second chord. The interesting part comes with the next chord.

    The very intimidating sounding ‘B diminished 9 (no third)’ is a lot less harmful than it sounds- trust me! All it is, is a B diminished chord, with an added C note, and it’s missing the third (a D note). In fact, it’s taken right from the C harmonic minor scale.

    If you don’t know your Harmonic minor scales yet, then you can use the C minor pentatonic over this chord, too. Just watch out for the seventh note, which has been sharpened.

    So your scale choice could be:

    C natural minor – C natural minor – C harmonic minor – C harmonic minor

    …or something similar. It’s really up to you.

    The Turnaround

    To keep things from getting totally boring, after four repeats of the above chord sequence, I’ve added a four bar turnaround. Turnarounds are just short chord sequences that lead you back to the start of a section.

    The chords for this part are:

    A flat major – B flat 7 – G7 – G7

    Again, kinda scary looking! Don’t worry, I’ll explain what’s happening here.

    The A flat major is the same as the one in the verse progression, so you can still use C minor pentatonic, or C natural minor here. Same goes for the B flat 7- this is just taken from the A natural minor scale, so the same scales will work over it.

    The two G7’s are a different story. I’ve borrowed, again, from the C harmonic minor scale, which means you can use that scale for this part. You can also use the C minor pentatonic here also, so it’s your choice.

    So, for the turnaround you could use something like this:

    C natural minor – C natural minor – C harmonic minor – C harmonic minor

    …or use the C minor pentatonic through the whole thing…

    Getting Crazy and Creative

    There is a lot more you can do over this progression if you start using modes and more creative scales. For example, in the verse part you could use a different pentatonic scale for each chord. Which would look like this:

    C minor pentatonic – A flat major pentatonic – B minor pentatonic – C minor pentatonic

    Doing the same thing in the turnaround would give you this:

    A flat major pentatonic – B flat major pentatonic – G minor pentatonic – G major pentatonic

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    I haven’t actually tried that last one, but it could be interesting. Unlike other chords, it’s possible to play either major or minor pentatonic over a dominant 7 chord. So over G7 you could play G major or G minor pentatonic. Give it a go and see what happens!

    If you really want to get into playing lead guitar, my new book ‘Awesome Lead Guitar’ is out now. In it you’ll learn the most common scales and techniques that lead guitarists use with full scale diagrams and tabs!

    Then, you can practise along with the 17 included full solo examples and backing tracks! Click here now for more.

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