Let’s look at how to build a C sharp minor scale on the piano. We’ll look at how to build both natural minor and 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 C sharp minor used the notes of the C 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. This means these two scales use the same notes, but start and end on different notes.
We can build a natural minor scale by starting on the sixth note of the relative major scale, and playing through the notes of that major scale to build our natural minor scale.
Another way to build a natural minor scale is by using 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 play through this pattern of whole and half-steps (where W = whole step and H = half-step):
W – H – W – W – H – W – W
How to Build a C Sharp Natural Minor Scale
Or we could start on C♯ and play the note one whole step up, which is D♯. Then we could play the note 1/2 step up, E. Next we could play the note one whole step up, F, and continue following our pattern until we reach the next C♯.
What Are the Notes for a C Sharp Natural Minor Scale?
Here are the notes for a C sharp natural minor scale:
C♯ – D♯ – E – F♯ – G♯ – A – B – C♯
How to Label the Notes of the Scale
You may be wondering why the D♯ is labeled as D♯ instead of E♭, or why the F♯ is labeled as F♯ instead of G♭ (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 is a C sharp minor scale, the second note will some sort of D, the third note some sort of E, and so on.
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 of the way the raised seventh note changes the sound of the music.
How to Build a C Sharp Harmonic Minor Scale
To build a C sharp harmonic minor scale, we’ll start with a C sharp natural minor scale. Then we’ll raise the seventh note B, 1/2 step to B♯.
If you’re wondering why we call it B♯ instead of C, it’s because scales must progress in alphabetical order. Since the note just before this one is an A, the note that follows must be some sort of B.
What Are the Notes for a C Sharp Harmonic Minor Scale?
Here are the notes for a C sharp harmonic minor scale:
C♯ – D♯ – E – F♯ – G♯ – A – B♯ – C♯
Melodic Minor Scales
Melodic minor scales aren’t as common, since 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 C sharp natural minor and harmonic minor scales on the piano, and you can use these patterns to build other types of minor scales!
Using patterns to learn the piano is a great way to understand the relationships between the notes, and lays a great foundation for creative playing.