Let’s look at how to build an A sharp minor scale on the piano. We’ll look at how to build both A sharp natural minor and A sharp harmonic minor scales. We can use these patterns to build other minor scales.
What Are Minor Scales?
Minor scales are groups of eight notes, played in alphabetical order, starting and ending on the same note. They’re groups of notes used to write songs.
Songs written in the key of A sharp minor used the notes of the A sharp minor scale to write the song.
Three Types of Minor Scales
There are three types of minor scales:
- Natural minor
- Harmonic minor
- Melodic minor
Natural Minor Scales
Natural minor scales each have a relative major scale on the piano. These two scales use the same notes to build their scales, but start and end on different notes, changing the way the scales sound.
We can build a natural minor scale by starting on the sixth note of a major scale, and playing through the notes of that major scale.
Another way to build a natural minor scale is to use a pattern of half-steps and whole steps.
A half-step is the distance from one note to the very next, whether black or white.
A whole step is two half-steps.
To build a natural minor scale, we can find our starting note, then follow this pattern of half and whole steps:
W – H – W – W – H – W – W
How to Build an A Sharp Natural Minor Scale
Another way to build this scale is to start on A♯ and play the note one whole step up, which is B♯ (we call this note B♯ instead of C since scales must progress in alphabetical order). Then we’ll play the note one half-step up, which is C♯. Next, we’ll play the note one whole step up from that, which is D♯.
We can continue following our pattern of half-steps and whole steps until we reach the next A♯ and the scale is complete.
What Are the Notes for an A Sharp Natural Minor Scale?
Here are the notes for A sharp natural minor:
A♯ – B♯ – C♯ – D♯ – E♯ – F♯ – G♯ – A♯
Labeling the Notes of the Scale
You may be wondering why we would call the second note of the scale a B♯ instead of C, or why we would call the next note C♯ instead of D♭ (sharps indicate the note one half-step up, flats indicate the note one half-step down).
The reason is because the notes of a scale must progress in alphabetical order. Since this scale starts with a type of A, the next note will be a type of B, the third note will be a type of C, and so on.
An A sharp natural minor scale has seven sharps, which is as many as a scale can have.
Some scales use the same notes on the piano to build their scales, but go by two different names. These are called “enharmonic scales”. There are three sets of enharmonic major scales on the piano:
B major and C♭ major
F♯ major and G♭ major
C♯ major and D♭ major
Since these major scales are enharmonic, their relative minor scales will also be enharmonic.
Here are the enharmonic minor scales:
G♯ minor and A♭ minor
D♯ minor and E♭ minor
A♯ minor and B♭ minor
Harmonic Minor Scales
Harmonic minor scales are similar to natural minor scales, except the seventh note has been raised 1/2 step. These scales are popular because the raised seventh note changes the way the scale sounds.
How to Build an A Sharp Harmonic Minor Scale
To build an A sharp harmonic minor scale, we’ll start with an A natural minor scale. Then we’ll raise the seventh note G♯, by 1/2 step, to G♯♯ (“G double-sharp”). The reason we call it “G double-sharp” is because scale notes must progress in alphabetical order.
What Are the Notes for an A Sharp Harmonic Minor Scale?
Here are the notes for an A sharp harmonic minor scale:
A♯ – B♯ – C♯ – D♯ – E♯ – F♯ – G♯♯ – A♯
Melodic Minor Scales
Melodic minor scales aren’t as common as natural and harmonic minor scales, because they raise the sixth and seventh notes ascending (going up), and play the natural minor scale descending (going down).
Other Minor Scales
Here are all the minor scales:
A minor scale
E minor scale
B minor scale
F♯ minor scale
C♯ minor scale
G♯ minor scale
D♯ minor scale
A♯ minor scale
D minor scale
G minor scale
C minor scale
F minor scale
B♭ minor scale
E♭ minor scale
A♭ minor scale
Now you know how to build both A sharp natural and A sharp harmonic minor scales on the piano, and you can use these patterns to build any other minor scales!
Using minor keys on the piano is lots of fun, because they create a different moods compared to major keys. They work well for more somber and reflective music.