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All about the Minor Scale

The Mystery of the Minor Scale on the Piano

The Minor Scale piano

   Welcome to PlayThePianos again. This time we are going to be studying another type of scale known as the Minor scale. We will take a deep study on what the minor scale entails, how to play a minor scale on any key, and as a bonus, I will help you to write out the correct minor scales of the twelve keys with their fingerings and pictures for you to better understand. At this point, it should not be a new thing to us that we have three major types of minor scales. Do not fret, we will solve the puzzle.

  And yes, guys, as a reminder, I want to tell you that if you have not subscribed to this blog, please do so now so that you will not miss any new post we make in this blog. And like I have always said, subscription is free! You will get notified of new posts by your email address. It is a safe way of improving as a pianist. So, guys, let us not waste time again….

   Like you guys know, i like taking things step-wisely. It will facilitate easy comprehension. So before you can understand the minor scale, we have to understand the meaning of the word ‘scale’ itself, pertaining to music.

In music, scale means a ladder, arrangement or sequence of notes arranged based on intervals of each note to the root note. It means that we have a group of notes that can be arranged in ascending or descending order. I have actually touched the totality of this topic of scale. Click here to check.

   If you read our previous post in the major scale, we first of all stretched the topic of scale, then we talked about the chromatic scale, and then the main focus: the major scale.

Like I have previously mentioned, as we have the major scale, we also have the minor scale. In English language, Major and Minor are contradictory words, so they work well here! But the natural minor is a little bit complex than the major scale. They minor scale exists in three different types. They are: The Natural minor scale, The harmonic minor scale, and the melodic minor scaled. They are variations. Of all this three, the most popular and easiest is the natural minor scale. Well that is to me.

   In this post, we will study only the natural minor scale. Make sure you check my other posts on the other types of scales we have. They are a must study!

So what is the Minor Scale?

   A minor scale is a musical scale in which the interval between the Tonic and the mediant is a minor third. It means that in a minor scale the distance or interval that makes it qualified to be a minor scale is when the interval between the first note of the minor scale and the third note of this scale is a Minor third.

The minor third interval

A minor third interval is one which comprises of three semitones. Check INTERVALS for more explanation.

Minor third interval

   While the major scale must have the major third as its interval, the minor third also has the Minor third as the interval between the root and third.

    Keys create scales, and scales create chords, and chords create chord progressions. With this statement, it can be deducted that a minor chord can be created from a minor scale. This is possible by picking the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of a minor scale. With this, you can easily form a minor chord on any key.

   Also note that while the major scale has a bright and happy tune, the minor scale has a tune that is dull and gloomy. It brings this sad emotion atmosphere. Also, many musicians can creatively use the minor scale to their taste in a way that this sad quality will not reflect; Jazz musicians are good at doing this!

   If you tell an advanced instrumentalist, “I want to learn how to play a minor scale.” You may get him confused on which minor scale you want to learn to play. Why? There are many minor scales in music, and still, many are still being formed, while many are yet to be formed. Among these many minor scales that we have, there are three that are the main types of minor scale. This three minor scales are the first set of minor scales you will learn after learning the major scale.

Other sub types of minor scales include: The Pentatonic Minor scale, the Jazz Minor scale, the Blues Minor scale, the Zhalibny Minor Scale, Hungarian Minor Scale, Neapolitan Minor scale and many others. Now we are going into the three main types of Minor scale.

   Also, it is important to note that the minor scale belong to a group of scale called heptatonic scales. The word “Hepta” means 7, so it means a scale with seven notes. If you count the notes of any of the Minor scales, they sum up to seven, just like the major scale.

  TYPES OF MINOR SCALE

  In music there are three major types of minor scale. They are:

1. The Natural Minor scale

2. The Harmonic Minor scale, and

3. The Melodic Minor scale.

  In this post, we will only focus on the Natural Minor scale. This is just the tip of the Iceberg. It is going to be epic!

   THE NATURAL MINOR SCALE

The Natural Minor scale

     The natural minor scale is the first scale every student should know before other minor scales, because of its simplicity. It is also the most popular type of minor scale. The minor scale follows a constant pattern while ascending up and descending down the scale. The natural minor scale follows the same formula respective of what key you play – the same with all scales.

   In the natural minor scale, the first, third and fifth scale degrees form a minor triad, just as that of the major scale forms a major triad. With this knowledge, one can easily build a minor triad in any key. The natural minor scale is not complicated; You will get it once!

   Try this little activity:

– Pick a key of your choice.

– Play the major scale on that key.

– This time, start your scale on the second note (re) of the major scale and end on the second note in the next octave.

– Do this again on the third note (mi).

– Repeat this on all the notes (scale degrees) of the scale in that key.

   What you just played are modes. Do you know that you have actually played the natural minor scale in one of the scale degrees? I will show you that shortly!

   HOW TO BUILD THE NATURAL MINOR SCALE

The Natural Minor scale

     Just like the major scale, whose formula is TTSTTTS, the natural minor scale also has a formula that is an alteration of the formula of constructing the major scale. If you want to play the natural minor scale in any key on the piano, you will have to follow this formula: TSTTSTT.

T stands for Tone.

S stands for Semitone.

   I have already covered this concept of Tone and Semitone. You should take a look at it in order to understand better. Click here to check.

  Compare the two formulas above (the formula for the major scale and that for the natural minor). What did you observe? It looks like they are related. They are actually related – they are cousins.

   They both have two Semitones.

   They also both have five tones.

When you take the formula of the major scale, and rewrite the formula from the last tone, you will have a formula like this: TSTTSTT, from the initial major scale formula of TTSTTTS. That is the formula for forming the natural minor scale in any key on the piano.

   THE MEANING OF THE FORMULA

   The formula means that for every of the scale degrees of the natural minor scale, the interval between them is a difference of each Tone or Semitone in the formula above. So, between the first and second note of the natural minor scale, we have a Tone as the interval; between the second and the third scale degree, we have a semitone separating them; between the third and fourth, we have a Tone, and so on.

   Now let us build the natural minor scale on the key of C.

C Natural Minor Scale

  As we know, C definitely is our first note or root note because we want to build a scale on it.

  To find our second degree of the scale, we must follow the natural minor scale formula. The formula states that the distance or interval between the first and second notes of the natural minor scale, is a Tone. Therefore, based on interval, our second note in the C natural minor scale is D.

  To find our third note, the interval between the second and third note is a semitone. Semitone means no space between them, right? Therefore, the third note of the C natural minor scale is Eb.

   To figure out the fourth note of the natural minor scale, the interval between the third and fourth note gives a Tone. With this, it is easy to conclude that the fourth note of the C natural minor scale is F.

   If you keep on following this pattern, you will see that the C natural minor scale has the following notes.

C D Eb F G Ab Bb C.

   Now I will give you the natural minor scale of all the keys, and their fingering pattern for both hands. I will also provide the diagram.

   NATURAL MINOR SCALE OF ALL THE KEYS WITH DIAGRAM, AND THEIR CORRECT FINGERINGS

   In this section, you will be provided with the natural minor scales of all 12 keys, with picture for illustration, and their correct fingering. The finger numbers are the same for both hands.

LH means Left Hand

RH means Right Hand

For both hands,

1 = Thumb

2 = Index Finger

3 = Middle Finger

4 = Ring Finger

5 = Pinky

A Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key A

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

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

A# / Bb Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key A# or B flat

Notes: A#, C, C#, D#, F, F#, G#, A#

Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2

Fingerings (RH): 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4

B Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key B

Notes: B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A, B

Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

C Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key C

Notes: C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

C# / Db Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key C# or D flat

Notes: C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A, B, C#

Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3

Fingerings (RH): 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

D Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key D

Notes: D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C, D

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

D# / Eb Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key D# or E flat

Notes: D#, F, F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#

Fingerings (LH): 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2

Fingerings (RH): 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3

E Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key E

Notes: E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

F Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key F

Notes: F, G, Ab, Db, Eb, F

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4

F# / Gb Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key F# or G flat

Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4

Fingerings (RH): 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

G Minor

Notes: G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

G# / Ab Minor

Natural Minor Scale on key G# or A flat

Notes: G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#

Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2

Fingerings (RH): 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

Natural Minor Scales of all keys altogether

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

A#/Bb: A#, B#, C#, D#, F, F#, G#, A# / Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb

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

C: C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C

C#/Db: C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A, B, C# / Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, A, B, Db

D: D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C, D

D#/Eb: D#, E#, F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D# / Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb

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

F: F, G, Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F

F#/Gb: F#, G#, A, B, C#, D, E, F# / Gb, Ab, Bbb, Cb, Db, Ebb, Fb, Gb

G: G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G

G#/Ab: G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E, F#, G# / Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab

   That does it, guys. You are now a natural minor scale guru. Remember to practise the scale on all keys, starting off at a slow tempo. Thanks

Resources:

Pianoscales.org

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