Learn the Minor Scales for Piano

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Learn formulas for minor scales used in playing the piano and where to use them in your performances. This lesson will cover Relative minor scales, Natural minor, Harmonic minor and Melodic minor scales.

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Relative Minor Scales

If you know a little about the Major Scales and how to form them then learning the Relative Minor scales is fairly easy.

Each Major Key, or Major Scale has a Relative Minor scale associated with it that will share the major scales Key signature.

To find the Relative Minor scale in the key of C you can count down from C three half steps to the note A, and then play all the white notes from A to A.

If you do that you will be playing an A natural minor scale.

Because the C major scale has no sharps or flats, the related A natural minor scale will have no sharps or flats as well.

ex. C Major = C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C ex. A Minor = A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A

Notice as you play the two scales that the major scale will sound bright and cheerful while the related minor scale will have a darker, more solemn or sad sound.

While it would be better for you to figure out the relative Natural Minor scales at the keyboard using what you know so far, I will include all 12 Natural minor scales for you.

C = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C

D = D - E - F - G - A - Bb - C - D

E = E - F# - G - A - B - C - D - E

F = F - G - Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F

G = G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G

A = A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A

B = B - C# - D - E - F# - G - A - B

C# = C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A - B - C#

Eb = Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb - Db - Eb

F# = F# - G# - A - B - C# - D - E - F#

G# = G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E - F# - G#

Bb = Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb

Natural Minor Formula

Another way to figure out any Natural minor scale is to use this simple formula.

whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step or:

w - h - w - w - h - w - w.

Harmonic Minor Scale

To play a harmonic minor scale, you simply raise the seventh note of the scale by a half-step as you go up and down the scale. For example:

Natural C Minor Scale = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C

Harmonic C Minor Scale = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - B - C

Melodic Minor Scale

When you raise the sixth and seventh notes of a scale by a half step as you go up the scale and then return to the natural minor as you go down the scale. For example:

Melodic C Minor Scale = C - D - Eb - F - G - A - B - C (as you go up the scale)

Natural C Minor Scale = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C (as you go down the scale)


Please take a few minutes and watch the short video clip below for a little extra help on finding and using you new information.

Be sure to fill in the comment section and let me know how I can improve your learning experience.

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