Let’s look at how to build a B minor scale on the piano. We’ll look at how to build both B natural minor and B harmonic 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 B minor used the notes of the B 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. This means these two scales use the same notes to build the scale, but start and end on different notes.
We can build a natural minor scale by starting on the sixth note of a major scale, and using the notes of that major scale to play the relative natural minor 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.
We can build any natural minor scale by starting with the note the scale is named after, and following this pattern (where W = whole step and H = half-step):
W – H – W – W – H – W – W
How to Build a B Natural Minor Scale
Or we could start on B, and play the note one whole step up, which is C♯. Then we could play the note one half-step up, D. Then we could play the note one whole step up, E. We can continue following the pattern of half-steps and whole steps until we reach the next B.
What Are the Notes for a B Natural Minor Scale?
Here are the notes for a B natural minor scale:
B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G – A – B
Labeling the Notes
You may be wondering why we label the black key as an F♯ and not a G♭, or the other black key as C♯ instead of D♭ (sharp indicates the note one half-step up, flat indicates the note one half-step down).
The reason is the notes of a scale must progress in alphabetical order. Since we are building a B minor scale, the second note of the scale will be a C, and the third note will be an D, and so on, to continue our alphabetical pattern.
Harmonic Minor Scales
Harmonic minor scales are similar to natural minor scales. The only difference is the seventh note has been raised 1/2 step.
These scales are popular because of the way the raised seventh note changes the music.
How to Build a B Harmonic Minor Scale
To build a B harmonic minor scale, we can start with a B natural minor scale, then raise the seventh note 1/2 step. So instead of A, we’ll play A♯.
What Are the Notes for a B Harmonic Minor Scale?
Here are the notes for a B harmonic minor scale:
B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G – A♯ – B
You may be wondering why we’d call the A♯ an A♯ instead of a B♭. The reason is because the notes of a scale must progress in alphabetical order.
Melodic Minor Scales
Melodic minor scales aren’t as common, because they raise the sixth and seventh notes 1/2 step 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 a B natural minor scale and a B harmonic minor scale on the piano, and you can use these patterns to build any other minor scales!
Minor keys are really enjoyable to play, and work well for music that’s more somber or reflective.