In music theory, the primary scales that musicians learn are diatonic scales. Though you’re probably more familiar with the terms “major” and “minor,” a diatonic scale is a scale with seven pitches. These pitches include five whole steps and two half steps.

W = Whole Step H = Half Step

In this article, we’re going to focus on the minor scale. Pictured above is the natural minor scale, but there are actually three types of minor scales commonly found in music.

  1. Natural Minor Scale
  2. Harmonic Minor Scale
  3. Melodic Minor Scale

In the video below, we’re going to give you a quick overview of each scale. Stick around afterward for further review and resources!

Let’s review the three types of minor scales.

The natural minor scale is the naturally occurring diatonic scale with no altered scale degrees or added accidentals. Remember, if you’re looking at a major scale, lower scale degrees 3, 6, and 7 to get the minor scale.

 

The harmonic minor scale is nearly the same as the natural scale, but with a raised 7th scale degree.

 

The melodic minor scale raises scale degrees 6 and 7 from the natural minor scale when ascending, but lowers them to their natural minor state when descending. One thing to note about the melodic scale is that often, especially in jazz music, musicians won’t lower the scale degrees when descending. Instead, they enjoy the unique sound of the raised 6th and 7th scale degrees.

 

We wanted to give you a printable guide you can use while you’re memorizing these scales. Click here for the free PDF of the image below!

We hope you’re now feeling a little more comfortable with your minor scales. You can start incorporating them into your warm-up by playing or singing through each, going up a half-step, and repeating the process for an octave or two! Once you’re familiar, you’ll see these scales popping up all over your sheet music.

For more great articles on music theory, click here! Happy learning!


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