Posts Tagged ‘Scales’

Hi Folks

For all those musicians out there learning their scales, it can be a challenge to work out which minor scale is related to the Major scale.

There are 2 ways to relate them.  You can relate them by starting pitch, so G Major and G minor for example.  This has the same starting note but totally different key signatures.  The other way is to relate them by Key Signature, which makes them more useful when you are woring out what key the piece is in you are trying to play.

Lets take C Major wich has a key signature of 0 Sharps and 0 flats.  To work out the relative Minor, count up 6 notes ( including the Root) and you end up on A.  This is the Relative Natural Minor.  So Starting on A play up to the next A and maintain the key of 0 Sharps and Flats.  This gives you A natural minor.

To make this the harmonic minor, raise the 7th note of this new scale by a semitone or half step (G becomes G#) both up and down the scale.

To take it to the next level and play the melodic minor, raise both the 6th and 7th by a semitone /half step (F becomes F# and G becomes G#) on the way up, but revert back to the natural minor scale on the way down.

So in four easy stages you have played the Major scale and 3 versions of the Minor scale.


Attached is a PDF showing how this works.  Please feel free to download and share.

I hope you found this useful.

Happy Tooting.



Scales – Major to Minor

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So which side of the fence are you on regarding scales?  Personally, I love them.

They are like musical vegetables, you should take in at least 7 a day!

A lot of players see them as a chore and don’t see the benefit of learning them.  I can understand that thought, especially as some students who take grades, don’t have it explained to them what connection they have to the pieces they are learning, so therefore its just another thing to try and learn to help pass their grade.

I did a trial lesson with an adult player a few years ago.  He had been playing for a good few years and played in various groups locally.  I asked him to start off the session with a G scale over one octave, playing nice and slowly as I wanted to listen to his tone.

He made a few attempts and gave up, with the explanation that he was a ‘Jazzman!’ and was used to improvising.  So we tried another scale with the same result and reason.

However I tried to break it down and help him through it, he just came back with the same reason.   Now the reason I find this a bit odd, is because to play Jazz well, you must know your scales, and normally a lot more scales and different ways to play them than a classical musician may do, as this is how you improvise.

What I have worked out over the years is that each piece is written in its own dialect of the same language.  In other words, music is the language and each key is a different dialect.  The notes within that key that make up the scale are really the letters of the alphabet that is used within that dialect.

Learning the alphabet allows us to spell words, learning words allows us to make phrases and sentences, learning sentences allows us to make paragraphs, and learning paragraphs allows us to tell stories.  That is what we try and do when we play music, we tell stories through our instrument.  So most of the good musical story tellers know their scales, because they see the benefit to their art.

I am going to leave this here for now, but I will be coming back to the subject of scales, and looking at how different people remember them and how different people teach them.



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