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Minor Scales Have
Feelings Too, You Know

Minor scales take a back seat to nobody. They sound terrific and a composer needs to develop skills in playing different forms of these scales. The following are minor scales in three different keys.

The first of these keys is A minor, using the harmonic minor form. Basically, minor scales sound similar to major scales that have the same key signature. Harmonic and melodic forms modify minor scales so that they sound nothing like their related major scales.



A melodic scale raises the sixth and seventh note of an ascending scale. However, these same two notes are played as naturals (white notes) on the way down. Try it... it sounds goooood. I know, I know; I can't spellll.






This scale has the exact same fingering as A minor. Note how the sixth and seventh note of this scale have a flat and a sharp living adjacent to each other. Well, if they can live peacefully together as neighbors, then that should be a shining example for the rest of us. I'm going to visit my neighbor right now and tell him that I'm honoured to be living next to him (I'm really not going to do that).






This scale is more complicated. The sixth and seventh notes ascending are B and C#, but they are C and Bb on the way down. In both cases, the sequence involves a white piano key, followed by a black piano key.







Remember that each harmonic minor scale has the same spacing between notes, regardless of the key signature. Try this one:







This melodic scale feels like A minor, in the sense that the sixth and seventh notes are both sharp on the way up, and natural on the way down.





The left-hand fingerings (one octave) for all but the B minor scale are 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2 and 1. B minor uses 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2 and 1. In addition to playing the above scales, practice copying them! Even if you feel this is a mundane task, do it anyway. The more you write, the better you will become at absorbing and recognizing notes, both on a staff and on a piano.

 

Extend Those Minor Scales

Well, how about it?. Let’s try making those minor scales twice as long. To doing so, it's probably best to start an octave lower than your regular starting note in a two octave scale. Try the following right hand fingering for an A minor harmonic ascending scale:

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

As usual, our left hand is getting jealous (or perhaps it’s happy that it doesn’t have to do all that exercise). At any rate, let’s make the left hand work with the following ascending fingering:

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2 and 1

Reading the numbers from right to left is the first step in playing the A minor harmonic scale in a descending direction. By the way, advanced pianists play these types of four octave scales. Composers should acquire the same skill level for these two reasons:

• The more efficient you are on the keyboard, the more you can realize the music in your head;

• The more efficient you are on a keyboard, the more you can brag to pianists that you can play scales just as well as them. “I play these scales just as well as you and I’m not even a pianist” is a line that would really get under their skin. The line would also give you a feeling of smugness and temporary satisfaction.

Remember, of course, to administer the quote of the last bullet point to a pianist who is much weaker than you, as you do not want to be used as a composer punching bag.





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Piano Music | Chamber Classical Music | Inspirational Orchestral Music | Classical Composers | Name That Music | Free Composition and Piano Lessons | Piano Music Notes | Learn Music Theory | Finale Music Writing Software | Composing Music to Films | Writing Classical Score | List of Instruments | Music Sound Recording Studios | Multitrack Recording Process | Music Mixing Advice