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Minor scales #2935835 01/18/20 04:58 PM
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treefrog Offline OP
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I’m getting close to completing all of my major scales to 2 octaves and will then be moving on to my minor scales.
At the moment, unlike the major scales where it is instantly obvious if I’ve hit the wrong key, I find the minor scales less obvious.
Will I recognise the minor scales in the same way as I do the major scales or is it a case of having to learn them note for note irrespective of how they sound?

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Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935836 01/18/20 05:11 PM
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You’ll have to learn them mainly because there are 3 for each key - natural, harmonic and melodic.


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Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935837 01/18/20 05:18 PM
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Concentrate on the harmonic minor scale and learn how it sounds: use A minor (the relative minor of C major), which has G# upwards and downwards.

Don't confuse yourself by trying to learn everything all at once. Everything in its own good time.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935839 01/18/20 05:30 PM
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As stated above, you will have to learn them but I do think you’ll recognize the sound differences after a while.


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Re: Minor scales [Re: bennevis] #2935847 01/18/20 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Concentrate on the harmonic minor scale and learn how it sounds: use A minor (the relative minor of C major), which has G# upwards and downwards.

Don't confuse yourself by trying to learn everything all at once. Everything in its own good time.



I’m learning by my mistakes in the past. I’m planning to learn these over 18-36 weeks smile

Last edited by treefrog; 01/18/20 05:50 PM.
Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935849 01/18/20 05:55 PM
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Even if you did one per month, it would only take a year, and you’d know them well.


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Re: Minor scales [Re: cmb13] #2935853 01/18/20 06:03 PM
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treefrog Offline OP
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Even if you did one per month, it would only take a year, and you’d know them well.


I thought there were 36.

Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935854 01/18/20 06:05 PM
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Since each major key has a relative minor key you don't have to relearn the notes except for an adjustment for the harmonic and melodic minor scales. If you practice them a lot you will probably be able to hear it if you make a mistake.

Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935886 01/18/20 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by treefrog
Originally Posted by cmb13
Even if you did one per month, it would only take a year, and you’d know them well.


I thought there were 36.

I personally learned all minor scales of a particular key together, as they are rather similar. Not necessarily the same moment, but before moving on to the next. If you spend a month, it will be plenty of time to learn all 3. As PLUS said, first learn the natural, which is a relative of a major scale (eg A min is to C maj), then the harmonic, then the melodic.

Take your time, play them slowly, and you’ll have them down in no time.


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Re: Minor scales [Re: cmb13] #2935899 01/18/20 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cmb13
Originally Posted by treefrog
Originally Posted by cmb13
Even if you did one per month, it would only take a year, and you’d know them well.


I thought there were 36.

I personally learned all minor scales of a particular key together, as they are rather similar. Not necessarily the same moment, but before moving on to the next. If you spend a month, it will be plenty of time to learn all 3. As PLUS said, first learn the natural, which is a relative of a major scale (eg A min is to C maj), then the harmonic, then the melodic.

Take your time, play them slowly, and you’ll have them down in no time.


That sounds like a good tip.

I was all ready to learn the naturals first but your method sounds a lot more logical.

12 months, it is. smile

Thank you.

Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935900 01/18/20 08:15 PM
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I don't bother playing natural minor scales, since you'll play it on the way down for melodic ;0


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Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935904 01/18/20 08:41 PM
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As a general pattern, the minor scales have a minor 3rd in the 3rd degree. There are two ways of seeing the general patterns.

1. the "traditional classical view"

Here you start with the natural minor scale. Usually you learn to derive it from the 6th degree of the major scale. This also takes care of key signatures recognition (3 sharps = key of A major or C# minor etc. C# is the 6th degree of an A major scale.)

Here the easiest example is A natural minor, where we simply use the notes of C major but start on the 6th degree note, A.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.
For whole tones (W) and semitones (S) between the notes we get.
A (W) B (S) C (W) D (W) E (S) F (W) G (W) A

The distance between the 1st and 3rd note is a minor third: that gives all the minor scales that "sad minor" sound.
All natural minor scales, in all keys, will have this pattern.

To get the harmonic minor, you simply raise the 7th degree note - in this case the G.

A (W) B (S) C (W) D (W) E (S) F (3 semitones) G# (S) A

We have this sudden leap between F and G#, which gives the scale a kind of "exotic sound". Therefore the "melodic minor" got invented, by also raising the 6th and 7th degree notes. F and G are both raised.

A (W) B (S) C (W) D (W) E (W) F# ( W) G# (S) A

You don't need to "learn" the whole tones and semitones - it's only there to illustrate what happens. the patterns are:
- natural minor - derive from the 6th note of the relative major
- harmonic minor - raise the 7th note of the natural minor
- melodic minor - raise the 6th and 7th note of the natural minor. (I want to address the ascending/descending rule separately).
One might also want to add Dorian.

2. view via the major scale

I learned this one second, and after balking, have found it useful and necessary. Here we start with a major scale, and alter the minor.

A major = A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

For melodic minor we only need to lower 3. (C# becomes C)
A (W) B (S) C (W) D (W) E (W) F# ( W) G# (S) A

For harmonic minor we lower 3 and 6 (C# becomes C, F# becomes F)
A (W) B (S) C (W) D (W) E (S) F (3 semitones) G# (S) A

For natural minor, we lower 3, 6 and 7 (C# becomes C, F# becomes F, G# becomes G)
A (W) B (S) C (W) D (W) E (S) F (W) G (W) A

Same results, different angle.

Re: "Melodic minor"

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I don't bother playing natural minor scales, since you'll play it on the way down for melodic ;0

That's how I learned it. That is, I played the "melodic minor" ascending, "natural minor" descending, because that's what I was told to do and how it was written in my violin technique book - but I never asked why.

The fact is that which minor scale we use also depends on the underlying chords. As a general rule, in the earlier music a lot of the time the chords were such that you'd end up with this when the music went up as well as done. In later music the chords are different and you could end up with the ascending pattern also being used for the descending pattern. And either might be used for either period. Frankly, I don't know why we can't just learn the three minors (plus Dorian) and do the variants as the music calls for it.


Re: Minor scales [Re: bSharp(C)yclist] #2935909 01/18/20 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I don't bother playing natural minor scales, since you'll play it on the way down for melodic ;0
But what will happen if a musical passage has an ascending natural minor scale?

Re: Minor scales [Re: pianoloverus] #2935910 01/18/20 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I don't bother playing natural minor scales, since you'll play it on the way down for melodic ;0
But what will happen if a musical passage has an ascending natural minor scale?


Why can’t you just play it?


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Re: Minor scales [Re: dogperson] #2935911 01/18/20 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I don't bother playing natural minor scales, since you'll play it on the way down for melodic ;0
But what will happen if a musical passage has an ascending natural minor scale?


Why can’t you just play it?


That sounds logical to me 😁


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Re: Minor scales [Re: dobro] #2935913 01/18/20 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by dobro
As stated above, you will have to learn them but I do think you’ll recognize the sound differences after a while.


I do, too, they aren't that hard. I learned natural first because they're easiest, then harmonic, which wasn't much of a stretch. Harmonic are the ones I play daily now, melodic are easy after that and my teacher just recommended that I know them, but not practice them daily. Up to you, though. 😊


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Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935914 01/18/20 09:26 PM
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The other side of scales is when we go to playing: the fingering - and then scales might be sorted into groupings according to that. The four patterns by themselves I set out are easy.

Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935915 01/18/20 09:29 PM
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Whenever you learn anything on the piano, you want to learn to listen too.

This applies particularly to something that is not immediately familiar, like scales other than major ones. Which is why I don't think learning all the variants of the minor scales all at the same time is a good idea - you end up trying to memorise every fingering of every note of each variant by rote rather than using your ears to guide you (i.e. playing them by ear).

Whereas if you systemically learn the harmonic minor, then melodic minor, then natural minor (if you believe natural minors are really necessary to 'learn'), your ears help you to play the notes, because you're concentrating on mastering one "pattern" at a time. Scales & arpeggios are also ear training, in other words, and eventually, you'll be playing them by ear.......especially when you see them in actual music, and you're not using the fingering that you learnt originally (because of its context in the piece).

Which after all is what it's all about. Improving your skills at playing real music.


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Re: Minor scales [Re: bSharp(C)yclist] #2935917 01/18/20 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
I don't bother playing natural minor scales, since you'll play it on the way down for melodic ;0
But what will happen if a musical passage has an ascending natural minor scale?


Why can’t you just play it?


That sounds logical to me 😁
The point of practicing scales is so they or scalar fragments are not a stumbling block. If practicing a natural minor descending only is sufficient why not practice all scales only descending only? Why practice any minor scale if one just play it? Why practice any scales......?

Re: Minor scales [Re: treefrog] #2935924 01/18/20 10:40 PM
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I don’t there’s an exact one to one relationship between learning a specific diatonic scale and therefore being better at playing it when you encounter a fragment in a piece. Quite often the optimum fingering is not the same within the piece as the fingering that you’ve used a million times before when drilling the scale. So it’s not like an exact muscle memory copy gets trotted out on demand.

For me the benefit of scale drills is reinforcing the visual pattern of the blacks and whites and also making you hear the oddities of the particular scale, like the augmented second between the 7th and root of the harmonic minor scale.

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