How minor keys actually work

So I see a lot of questions on reddit and whatnot asking things like “What sort of weird scale am I in?” or “What’s the deal with this song?” and all they’re dealing with is a pretty basic minor chord progression. The major V chord throws them off, and they think it has to be something complicated and “proggy”. While the minor tonality is more complex than major, it’s still… pretty simple. This is especially true if you take a “songs first” approach to learning music. The major V is by no means uncommon, and the only reason people think it’s “weird” is because it doesn’t fit within their limited understanding of what it means to be in a minor key!

Minor keys are, traditionally, taught as three different scales: natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor (which is bizarrely taught as being different ascending and descending).

This is stupid.

Yes… it is. It’s just a stupid way to teach the minor tonality. It doesn’t make sense, people think that songs are written in one of the three scales but not the others (to be fair, they are… nowadays), and all sorts of other nonsense. But traditional minor tonalities are still very common in pop, rock, jazz, and other styles. They shouldn’t be cause for somebody to ask “What the hell is going on here?” because they’re pretty basic!

Just focus on the songs first. Stop worrying about the scales stuff comes from, and chill out. It’s music. It’s creative. You don’t need to force so many restrictions upon it.