Lesson 37: How to Write Minor Scales – Natural Minor

Category: Lessons

This lesson will be dedicated to mastering the art of writing the minor scale. The NATURAL minor scale is the easiest scale to write. No sharps or flats  to worry about; you just have to figure out the key signature. You could go the route of memorizing all of the major and minor key signatures – but as a back up plan, you should know how to write the natural minor scale using the TONE-SEMITONE method. This will be similar to how we learned to write major scales, with one small difference: the pattern we will follow is slightly different.

Rather than just telling you the pattern, I think I’m going to torture you a bit by making you work for the answer. If you remember back to the last lesson, I discussed RELATIVE KEYS. In that lesson I explained that every major scale has a relative minor. Relative major and natural minor scales actually SHARE all of their notes, except that the minor scale starts on a different note. Do you remember which note of a major scale is the tonic of the relative minor scale? *cue jeopardy music*

Answer: The sixth note (or submediant) of the major scale is the tonic of its relative minor scale. To demonstrate this, I’ve created the image below. The top staff shows 2 octaves of a C major scale with the SEMITONE steps highlighted using red slurs. The rest of the steps are WHOLE TONES. Below the C major scale is its relative  minor scale: A minor.

The SEMITONES are indicated on the A minor scale as well. Notice that they happen in exactly the same place as the relative minor. Notice that the notes are EXACTLY the same. Notice that I’m getting you to notice a lot of things. Notice that I’m using the word “notice” a lot.

So, now can you tell me what the tone-semitone pattern is for a minor natural scale? To make it easier, take a look at the A minor scale above. A to B is a whole tone, B to C is a semitone, C to D is a whole tone, etc.. When you put it all together you get TONE-SEMITONE-TONE-TONE-SEMITONE-TONE-TONE. It doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely as the major scale pattern, and I have no quick tricks for memorizing this pattern. But after this lesson, you won’t need to memorize it, because you will know how to build it using the major scale pattern. Job well done!

Posted on November 22nd, 2012 by sharlene


  1. Lesson 39: Melodic Minor Scale | Epianostudio Says:

    […] there are! Well, the melodic minor scale is the last one.. for now. We have already discussed the natural minor scale, and the harmonic minor scale. If you need to review these, you can click on the links […]

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  3. Minor Scale Review - Differences Between Minor Scales | Epianostudio Says:

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