Melodic Minor Scales

To form melodic minor scales simply lower the 3rd tone (note) of a major scale a half step. This would give you the following sequence of whole steps and half steps; whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. So, using C as an example the tones (notes) would be: C, D, D#/Eb, F, G, A, B, C (octave).

These tones (notes) would be played ascending (going up from low to high) the piano keyboard. These scales differ from other minor scales in that you play a natural minor scale decending (going down from high to low) the piano keyboard. This would make the tones (notes) decending (going down) a C, A#/Bb, G#/Ab, G, F, D#/Eb, D, and ending on the C tone (note) you began on.

Lets take a look at our piano keyboard graphic and count the whole steps and half steps in a C melodic minor scale ascending (going up the keyboard from C to octave C). C to D is a whole step, D to D#/Eb is a half step (no tones (notes) in between), D#/Eb to F is a whole step (half step down to E and then on to F) F to G is a whole step, G to A is a whole step, A to B is a whole step and we finish ascending with B to octave C, half step (no tone (note) between these two keys).

As noted above, you will play the natural minor scale decending (going down from high C to the beginning lower C). If you have not already reviewed the rules for the construction of natural minor scales you can click the link below and see the series of whole steps and half steps used in their formation.

Let’s do one more this time beginning on C#/Db. The tones (notes) would be; C#/Db, D#/Eb, E, F#/Gb, G#/Ab, A#/Bb, C, and C#/Db (octave). C#/Db to D#/Eb is a whole step, D#/Eb to E is a half step (stepping up from the black tone (note) to the white key immediately adjacent which is E), E to F#/Gb is a whole step (E to F is a half step so going up to F#/Gb makes a whole step), F#/Gb to G#/Ab is a whole step, G#/Ab to A#/Bb is a whole step, A#/Bb to C is a whole step (no black key between B and C), and we finish ascending (going from low tone (note) to octave higher tone) with C to C#/Db octave, half step. Again as already mentioned you would play the natural minor scale decending (going down from high C#/Db to the lower beginning C#/Db).

By using these rules you can now construct a melodic minor scale from any point (key) on the piano keyboard. If you would like to see the melodic minor scales in all 12 keys click on melodic minor scales and you will be transported to our “virtual piano keyboard”. Just pick a key (C, D, F#/Gb, etc) and click melodic minor scale and the notes will appear on the keyboard.

Practice these scales with both hands until you can move smoothly (not necessarily quickly) from beginning to end and back again in all 12 keys. When you practice your scales, I want you to use the fingering technique I have outlined here, scale fingering technique. This technique works with major and minor piano scales and will help with your finger dexterity and control. Now…Go Practice!

Major Scales – Rules for constructing major scales for the piano.

Natural Minor Scales – Rules for constructing natural minor scales for the piano.

Harmonic Minor Scales – Rules for constructing harmonic minor scales for the piano.