The natural minor scale, harmonic and melodic

“What are the minor scales (natural)? And the harmonic minor scales ? And those melodics?

These are the questions that a piano’s student (but not only, in general in the study of any instrument) should asks in the scales’s studio. However, often the answers are confused or difficult to understand. I’ll try, with this post, to explain you the nature of minor scales, following a pretty intuitive way (with examples and videos), to create them with the piano and recognizing it with naturality.

Let’s start from the natural minor scale.

In our musical system, we usually use some types of scales called “minor”. These corresponds at the ancient aeolian mode that has the structure: I – II – bIII -IV – V – bVI – bVII and the intervallar sequence (t = tone, s = semitone) t, s, t, t, s, t, t. Therefore, this is created adding a flat on the III, VI and VII degree on the major diatonic scale.

For example, applying this rule, the major diatonic scale of C is:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
Listen to it [audio:Do.mp3]

becomes in this way in the minor:

C, D, Eflat, Fa, Sol, Laflat, Siflat, Do
Listen it [audio:Domin.mp3]

The minor natural scale is also called “relative” minor, because she refers to a larger scale in which it maintains the alterations. This scale use the same notes of the mayor relative scale , but it starts by the sixth degree of the last.

In practise:

The natural A minor scale is just the C scale played by his sixth degree, that is A.

Attention please at the intervallar distance between the mayor relative and the minor scale: one tone and half tone. This distance can be useful when we’ll be asked: “write me the C minor (natural) scale”. Infact, other than following the tradicional method (flat at III, VI e VII degree of the diatonic scale), i might research the relative of the mayor C, adding one tone and half at the basical, then you should find the basical of her mayor relative and seeing which changes this has in key. These changes, as we said after, are “inherited” in the minor scale.

Therefore, the C minor scale will have got all the diatonic scale alterations that has, like fundamental thing, the E flat (or rather the E mayor scale flat): the B flat, the Eflat and the Aflat. These notes are just the VII, the VI and the III degree flat.

Then, let’s pass from C mayor scale

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

to the natural minor scale of C

C, D, Eflat, F, G, Aflat, Bflat, C

A curious thing: in the listening, the natural minor scale shows compared to the mayor scale, sad and melancholy.

The harmonic minor scale

With an oriental sound, the harmonic minor scale is equivalent to the natural minor scale with the seventh rise of a semitone . For example, the C harmonic minor scale is:

C, D, Eflat, F, G, Aflat, B, C

Listen to it [audio:Dominarmonica.mp3]

The melodic minor scale

Instead, the melodic minor scale in the ascending phase (->) correspond to the natural minor scale with the sixth and seventh rises of a semitone, while in the discending phase (<-) the sixth and the seventh come back to the natural state (of the natural minor). Here it is the melodic minor C:

(->) C, D, Eflat, F, G, A, B, C

(<-) C, D, Eflat, F, G, Aflat, Bflat, C

Listen to it [audio:Dominmelodica.mp3]

Finally, I propose to you a very useful scheme that summarize all the minor scales changes:

2 replies
  1. Krzysztof
    Krzysztof says:

    Qrva, co to jest??? Tekst wrzucony do auto-tłumacza? Autor poleciał w pręta! Komedia. Po ch… zaśmiecach internet.

  2. cristina gasparetto
    cristina gasparetto says:

    Gostaria de saber o dedihlado correto dessas escalas para tocar no piano principalmente das escalas menores ,harmonicas e melodicas, pois esta sendo a minha dificuldade;
    Desde já agrç.


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