A minor scale can have two forms, a harmonic and a melodic form. Minor scales have associated scales which occur in the major. In
other words, every major scale has a relative minor scale with the same key signature as its own and which
starts on its sixth note.
For example, the A minor scale is similar to the C major scale and has no sharps or flats. We can then say that
A minor is the relative minor of C major.
In harmonic minor scales, the seventh note is raised. For example, in the A minor scale, the seventh note, G, is
raised and becomes G#. The harmonic minor scales on piano are played using the same notes when you are both
ascending and descending the scale.
Here are some examples of harmonic minor scales, their relative majors and which note is raised:
The E minor’s relative major is G major. The sixth note in G major is E. The seventh note in the E minor scale
is raised so you will play all the notes in E minor as you would G major but raising the seventh note of the e
minor scale which will become D#.
The D minor’s relative major is F major. The sixth note in F major is D. The seventh note in the D minor scale
is raised so you will play all the notes in D minor as you would in F major but the difference is in the raising of
the seventh note by a semitone, which will become a C#.
For newer players, harmonic minor scales on piano can seem
difficult to master in theory as well as to practice on the piano keyboard. However, once you know the
theory behind the harmonic minor scales and know how to put it into practice, it will become second nature to
Here are some suggestions to help you to play the minor scales and to figure out which notes are played in a
1. Start on the note on the keyboard on which you want to play the minor scale.
2. Count six steps below that to your left to determine which key is the relative major of the minor you want to
3. Once you have determined to relative major, think of which notes are played in that major. Now go back to the
starting note of the minor scale you want to learn. Start playing the scale using the notes which are used in the
major scale including any sharps or flats.
4. Start counting each note you play. When you get to the seventh note raise it and you will have mastered the
minor scale. The same pattern repeats on the way down.
5. If you need to write the minor scale out when you are practising for the first time, do it. It will reinforce
the notes you need to play. With practice you will be able to play it from memory.
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