Minor Scales

Where there’s only one type of MAJOR scale, there are 3 primary types of minor scales.  Each with its own distinctive sound.

The most common minor scale is the natural minor and starts on the vi (6th) degree of the MAJOR scale.

NATURAL MINOR SCALES

To see the influence of different intervals at the beginning of a scale, let’s take a look at the A minor scale.  This scale was chosen because it’s the relative minor of the C MAJOR scale (more about this can be found in the section on Modes).  Now, if you guessed that a minor 3rd (m3) between the TONIC and the MEDIANT indicates a minor scale – you’d be exactly right! (2 + 1 = 3)  So, any time you see this INTERVAL pattern at the beginning of a scale or mode, you should think minor.

a_minor_scale_third

Stacked Intervals: P1, M2, m2, M2, M2, m2, M2, M2 (R2122122)
Rooted Intervals: P1, M2, m3, P4, P5, A5, M7, P8
Integer: 0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12

LISTEN

The following minor scale forms are similar to the natural minor scale with the following exceptions.

HARMONIC MINOR

The HARMONIC minor raises the VII (7th) degree by a single half-tone creating a minor 3rd (m3) between VI and VII.  Also of note is the change from a SUB-TONIC to a LEADINGTONE between the VII and i scale degrees. It becomes a LEADINGTONE because the interval was reduced from 2 half-tones (G to a) to a single half-tone (G# to a).

a_minor_harmonic

Stacked Intervals: P1, M2, m2, M2, M2, m2, M3, m2 (R2122131)
Rooted Intervals: P1, M2, m3, P4, P5, m6, M6, P8
Integer: 0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12

LISTEN

MELODIC MINOR

The MELODIC minor raises the VI (6th) and VII (7th) degrees by a single half-tone.  You’ll see different sources referring to this as the “ascending” MELODIC scale which hints at the fact that they expect the “descending” scale to be something different – and they do.  In this case they expect the NATURAL minor to be played while descending.  I say use whatever works for you.

a_minor_melodic

Stacked Intervals: P1, M2, m2, M2, M2, M2, M2, m2 (R2122221)
Rooted Intervals: P1, M2, m3, P4, P5, M6, M7, P8
Integer: 0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12

LISTEN

LISTEN DESCENDING NATURAL