Building minor scales intervallically

For our fourth music theory lesson, we revisit our knowledge of the Major intervallic sequence gained in the previous lesson, and use it to work out the intervallic sequence for natural minor scales.

Goal: Build a minor scale starting on any note without using the Circle of 5ths

Method: Use the sequence of intervals for minor scales

Why it works: Like Major scales, even though each minor scale has a different key signature, every minor scale has the same intervallic sequence

Intervals used in minor Scales: Half Steps and Whole Steps (same intervals as in Major, but a different order)

Half steps in A minor:

between E and F (5 and 6)
between B and C (2 and 3)

Whole steps in A minor:

between A and B (1 and 2)
between C and D (3 and 4)
between D and E (4 and 5)
between F and G (6 and 7)
between G and A (7 and 8)

Minor Scale Intervallic Sequence: Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole This intervallic sequence is what makes the scale minor

Minor Scale Intervallic Sequence Applied to A:

a minor intervallic sequence in chromatic scale
a minor scale on its own

minor Scale Intervallic Sequence Applied to C#:

c# minor intervallic sequence in chromatic scale
c# minor scale on its own

Just as with Major scales, now that you know this sequence of intervals defines a minor scale, you should be able to use it to build minor scales starting on any note!

Exercise: Try using this method to build other minor scales (I recommend going through all 12 but you can pick the ones you want).

1) Pick a starting note.
2) Use the sequence whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole, whole to build a minor scale starting on that note.
3) Check your work

A) Does the scale start and end on the same note ? If not, then something’s wrong.
B) How many sharps or flats does the scale contain? Check your answer against the Circle of 5ths and make sure you have the correct number of accidentals (on the correct notes) for the key you chose.
C) Did you skip any letters? You should have used all 7 letters to build your scale.

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