# Minor Scales

Natural, Harmonic and Melodic

The following is a very long and detailed page. You may want to tackle it in stages as there is a lot to take in. Just take it one step at a time, and most importantly make sure you understand each step before moving on to the next. Once you understand each concept, everything will start to make sense. Here we go...

3 scale patterns for minor scales are:

1. Natural Minor
2. Harmonic Minor
3. Melodic Minor

There is one thing that differentiates all 3 Minor Scales from the Major scale. The interval between the 1st and 3rd notes of the scale is always a tone and a half or 3 semitones. The correct terminology for this interval is a minor third.

In a Major Scale, the interval between the 1st and 3rd notes is a major 3rd which is equivalent to 2 whole tones or 4 semitones.

What differentiates the minor scales from each other is whether or not the 6th and 7th steps of the scale are sharpened or not.

## Different Methods for Calculating Minor Scales

There are a number of ways you can determine the notes in any Minor Scale.

1. The Step Method: Like the Step Method for determining the notes in a Major Scale, we can use the same principle in determining notes in the various Minor Scales. We can use this method in the form of Whole and Half Steps / Whole and Half Tones OR just semitones.

• Whole Step or Whole Tone is equivalent to 2 semitones
• Half Step or Half Tone is equivalent to 1 semitone

2. The Scale Method: Apply the formula for each Minor Scale to the Major Scale of the Minor tonic. e.g., If we want to determine the notes for the 'A Natural Minor Scale', we write down the notes of the 'Amajor Scale' and apply the formula for a Natural Minor Scale: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8 to each major scale note.

This method is a little more tedious than the step-method, but if you know your scales and formulas, and have forgotten the steps, this will certainly get you out of trouble. The result is the same.

3. Circle of Fifths... see below

4. Use the chart below... Table-4

### 1. Natural Minor Scale

• The Natural Minor Scale is the sixth mode (or Aeolian mode) of the major scale. e.g., if you are in the key of C and move up 6 notes, counting C as number 1, you reach A. The relative minor of C Major is A Minor.
• The step method of a Major Scale is: W - W - H - W - W - W - H
• Because a minor scale is the 6th mode of a Major Scale, the step method starts from the 6th note:
W - H - W - W - H - W - W
• Natural Minor Scale: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8 ascending and descending where each degree of the scale is represented by a number.
 1 Unison 2 Major 2nd ♭3 Minor 3rd 4 Perfect 4th 5 Perfect 5th ♭6 Minor 6th ♭7 Minor 7th 8 Octave

1. Natural Minor Scale - Formula:

• 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8 (ascending and descending)
Diagram 1:

Step Method for Natural Minor Scales:
Steps:       W      H    W     W     H        W     W
Result:  D  -   E  -  F  -  G  -  A  -  Bb  -  C  -  D

If you are confused about 'descending', go to the last note (end) and work backwards towards the middle - moving from the lowest note to the highest note. The first and last notes (D) are the tonics, while the middle note (D) is an octave above the tonic.

Scale Method for Calculating a D Natural Minor Scale
1. Natural Minor Scale Formula: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8 (ascending and descending)
2. D Major Scale Notes: D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# - D
3. Apply the formula to the Scale: 1 - 2 -♭3 - 4 - 5 -♭6 -♭7 - 8
4. Result: D - E - F - G - A - Bb - C - D

More examples using the Step Method:

Table 1:
Scale Notes 1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th
Whole / Half Tones   W   H   W   W   H   W   W
Semitones   2   1   2   2   1   2   2
C Natural Minor C   D   E♭   F   G   A♭   B♭   C
G Natural Minor G   A   B♭   C   D   E♭   F   G
D Natural Minor D   E   F   G   A   B♭   C   D
A Natural Minor A   B   C   D   E   F   G   A

### 2. Harmonic Minor Scale

• Harmonic Minor Scale - same as the natural minor scale but with a chromatically raised seventh degree (1 semitone) ascending and descending .
• Harmonic Minor Scale: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 7 8 ascending and descending... in simple terms, you raise the 7th note by 1 semitone.
• Each degree of the scale is represented by a number.
 1 Unison 2 Major 2nd ♭3 Minor 3rd 4 Perfect 4th 5 Perfect 5th ♭6 Minor 6th 7 Major 7th 8 Octave

2. Harmonic Minor Scale Formula:

• 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 7 8 (ascending and descending)
Diagram 2:

Step Method for Harmonic Minor Scales:
Steps:        W      H       W        W      H     WH       H
Result:  G   -  A  -  Bb  -   C  -  D  -  Eb   -   F#  -  G

If you're wondering why the F# in the diagram doesn't have a sharp descending is because an accidental remains the same in the confines of one bar... therefore the descending F is also sharpened as it is in the same bar.

Scale Method for Calculating a G Harmonic Minor Scale
1. Harmonic Minor Scale Formula: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 7 8 (ascending and descending)
2. G Major Scale Notes: G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G
3. Apply the formula to the Scale: 1 - 2 -♭3 - 4 - 5 -♭6 - 7 - 8
4. Result: G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G

More examples using the Step Method:

Table 2:
 Scale Notes 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th Whole / Half Tones W H W W H WH H Semitones 2 1 2 2 1 3 1 C Harmonic   Minor Scale C D E♭ F G A♭ B C G Harmonic Minor Scale G A B♭ C D E♭ F# G D Harmonic Minor Scale D E F G A B♭ C# D A Harmonic Minor Scale A B C D E F G# A

### 3. Melodic Minor Scale

• The Melodic Minor Scale is the same as the Natural minor scale but with a chromatically raised sixth and seventh degree ascending and restored to its normal pitch descending.
• Formula ascending: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 6 7 8
• Formula descending: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8
• Each degree of the scale is represented by a number.
Notes Ascending Notes Descending
1 Unison  1 Unison
2 Major 2nd  2 Major 2nd
♭3 Minor 3rd ♭3 Minor 3rd
4 Perfect 4th  4 Perfect 4th
5 Perfect 5th  5 Perfect 5th
6 Major 6th ♭6 Minor 6th
7 Major 7th ♭7 Minor 7th
8 Octave  8 Octave

3. Melodic Minor Scale Formula:

• 1 2 ♭3 4 5 6 7 8 ascending
• 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8 descending.
Diagram 3:

Because the Melodic Minor Scale has a different ascending/descending order we need 2 step-methods:

Step Method for Ascending:

```Steps:    W   H   W   W   W    W    H
Result: A - B - C - D - E - F# - G# - A```

Step Method for Descending: Start at the end and work back to the middle (A)

```Steps:    W   H   W   W   H   W   W
Result: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A```

Please Note: The descending scale of the Melodic Minor Scale is exactly the same as the ascending and descending scale of the Natural Minor Scale.

Steps: W - H - W - W - H - W - W

Formula: 1 - 2 - ♭3 - 4 - 5 - ♭6 - ♭7

Scale Method for Calculating the A Melodic Minor Scale
1. Melodic Minor Scale Formula: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 6 7 8 (ascending)
2. A Major Scale Notes: A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A
3. Apply the formula to the Scale: 1 - 2 -♭3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8
4. Result: A - B - C - D - E - F# - G# - A

1. Melodic Minor Scale Formula: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8 (descending)
2. A Major Scale Notes: A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A
3. Apply the formula to the Scale: 1 - 2 -♭3 - 4 - 5 - ♭6 - ♭7 - 8
4. Result: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A

Here are some more examples:

Table 3: Ascending
 Scale Notes 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th Whole / Half Tones W H W W W W H Semitones 2 1 2 2 2 2 1 C Melodic Minor Scale C D E♭ F G A B C G Melodic Minor Scale G A B♭ C D E F# G D Melodic Minor Scale D E F G A B C# D A Melodic Minor Scale A B C D E F# G# A
Table 3: Descending - from last note to the middle (lowest to highest)
 Scale Notes 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th Whole / Half Tones W H W W H W W Semitones 2 1 2 2 1 2 2 C Melodic Minor Scale C D E♭ F G Ab Bb C G Melodic Minor Scale G A B♭ C D Eb F G D Melodic Minor Scale D E F G A Bb C D A Melodic Minor Scale A B C D E F G A

#### Major & Natural Minor Scales

The following chart lists all the major and natural minor scales. We have included the major scales, so that you can see the relationship between the two.

Make sure you remember the order of sharps and flats in any given scale. This order never changes. No matter what key you are in, the order of sharps and flats in a key signature always remains the same.

Here are some other sayings to help you remember the order of sharps and flats. The first letter of each word represents a sharp or flat. This is just one example of many... the important thing is that you remember them.

Order of Sharps: Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle ....... F - C - G - D - A - E - B

Order of Flats: Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father ........... B - E - A - D - G - C - F

Please note that the order of flats is the reverse order of sharps; the last sharp is the first flat; the second to last sharp is the second flat; the third to last sharp is the 3rd flat and so on. Consider the following:

Major scales and their relative minor scales have exactly the same key signature except that the first note of the minor scale starts on the 6th note of the major scale e.g., C Major ( C - D - E - F - G - A - B ) where A is the 6th note and also C Major's relative minor (see below).

Table 4:
Major Scale Notes Sharps Relative Minor Scale Notes
Order of sharps: F C G D A E B
C C - D - E - F - G - A - B None Am A - B - C - D - E - F - G
G G - A - B - C - D - E - F# 1# Em E - F# - G - A - B - C - D
D D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# 2# Bm B - C# - D - E - F# - G - A
A A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# 3# F#m F# - G# - A - B - C# - D - E
E E - F# - G# - A - B - C# - D# 4# C#m C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A - B
* B B - C# - D# - E - F# - #G - A# 5# G#m G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E - F#
* F# F# - G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E# 6# D#m D# - E# - F# - G# - A# - B - C#
* C# C# - D# - E# - F# - G# - A# - B# 7# A#m A# - B# - C# - D# - E# - F# - G#

Major Scale Notes Flats Relative Minor Scale Notes
Order of flats: B E A D G C F
C C - D - E - F - G - A - B None Am A - B - C - D - E - F - G
F F - G - A - B♭ - C - D - E 1♭ Dm D - E - F - G - A - B♭- C
B♭ B♭ - C - D - E♭ - F - G - A 2♭ Gm G - A - B♭ - C - D - E♭ - F
E♭ E♭ - F - G - A♭ - B♭ - C - D 3♭ Cm C - D - E♭ - F - G - A♭ - B♭
A♭ A♭ - B♭ - C - D♭ - E♭ - F - G 4♭ Fm F - G - A♭ - B♭ - C - D♭ - E♭
* D♭ D♭ - E♭ - F - G♭ - A♭ - B♭ - C 5♭ B♭m B♭ - C - D♭ - E♭ - F - G♭ - A♭
* G♭ G♭ - A♭ - B♭ - C♭ - D♭ - E♭ - F 6♭ E♭m E♭ - F - G♭ - A♭ - B♭ - C♭ - D♭
* C♭ C♭ - D♭ - E♭ - F♭ - G♭- A♭ - B♭ 7♭ A♭m A♭ - B♭ - C♭ - D♭ - E♭ - F♭ - G♭
* indicates 'enharmonic' which is a note or key signature which is equivalent to another note or key signature, but spelled differently, e.g., B Major = C♭Major / F# Major = G♭ Major / C# Major = D♭ Major

↓ Major-Minor Scales chart

#### Circle Of Fifths

• Uppercase Letters: Major Scales (red)
• Lowercase Letters: Minor Scales (green)
• Key signatures for each respective Scale
• Sharps and flats for each major and minor scale
• C Major & A minor share the same key signature (no sharps or flats)
• The same applies to all adjacent scales, e.g., to the right: G Major and E Minor share the same key signature; to the left F Major and D Minor share the same key signature, and so on.
• We include a more in-depth look on the Circle of Fifths.

This is a great chart for viewing the relationships between Minor and Major Scales along with sharps and flats associated with each scale and their respective key signatures.

There are a couple of videos which you may find extremely useful: