A harmonic minor scale

a harmonic minor scale,piano diagram,note names,note positions,scale degrees,mp3,midi,bass clef,treble clef

A harmonic minor scale

The Solution below shows the A harmonic minor scale notes, intervals and scale degrees on the piano, treble clef and bass clef.

The Lesson steps then explain how to identify the A harmonic minor scale note interval positions, choose the note names and scale degree names.

For a quick summary to this topic, have a look at Harmonic minor scale.

Keys in the harmonic minor scale

Key C C# Db D D# Eb E E# Fb F F# Gb G G# Ab [A] A# Bb B B# Cb All On 1 page

Solution – 2 parts

1. A harmonic minor scale

The A harmonic minor scale has 1 sharp.

This harmonic minor scale is based on the natural minor scale with the same key / tonic note – A natural minor scale.

Since the natural minor key is itself on the Circle of 5ths – A minor on circle of 5ths, this means that this is a commonly used harmonic minor scale key.

A harmonic minor scale note names

Note no. Note interval Note name
1 tonic The 1st note of the A harmonic minor scale is A
2 A-maj-2nd The 2nd note of the A harmonic minor scale is B
3 A-min-3rd The 3rd note of the A harmonic minor scale is C
4 A-perf-4th The 4th note of the A harmonic minor scale is D
5 A-perf-5th The 5th note of the A harmonic minor scale is E
6 A-min-6th The 6th note of the A harmonic minor scale is F
7 A-maj-7th The 7th note of the A harmonic minor scale is G#
8 A-perf-8th The 8th note of the A harmonic minor scale is A

Middle C (midi note 60) is shown with an orange line under the 2nd note on the piano diagram.

These note names are shown below on the treble clef followed by the bass clef.

The stave diagrams above show the scale notes without a key signature, with the sharp / flat adjustments inserted before each note on the staff.

For the key signature of this scale, showing the symbols grouped correctly next to the bass or treble clef symbol at the beginning, have a look at the A harmonic minor key signature.

A harmonic minor scale degrees

Note no. Degree name
1 A is the tonic of the A harmonic minor scale
2 B is the supertonic of the A harmonic minor scale
3 C is the mediant of the A harmonic minor scale
4 D is the subdominant of the A harmonic minor scale
5 E is the dominant of the A harmonic minor scale
6 F is the submediant of the A harmonic minor scale
7 G# is the leading tone of the A harmonic minor scale
8 A is the octave of the A harmonic minor scale

The difference between the A harmonic minor scale and the A natural minor scale is that the 7th note position of the minor scale is raised by one half-tone / semitone.

So whereas the A natural minor scale has note G for the 7th note, this note is raised to arrive at note G# for this harmonic minor scale.

Audio downloads

Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

2. A harmonic minor scale descending

A harmonic minor scale descending

No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Note G# F E D C B A
Audio downloads

Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

Lesson steps

1. Piano key note names

The white keys are named using the alphabetic letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, which is a pattern that repeats up the piano keyboard.

Every white or black key could have a flat(b) or sharp(#) accidental name, depending on how that note is used. In a later step, if sharp or flat notes are used, the exact accidental names will be chosen.

The audio files below play every note shown on the piano above, so middle C (marked with an orange line at the bottom) is the 2nd note heard.

Audio downloads

Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

2. A tonic note and one octave of notes

The numbered notes are those that might be used when building this note scale.

But since this is a scale in the key of A, it is certain that notes 1 and 13 will be used in the scale.

Note 1 is the tonic note – the starting note – A, and note 13 is the same note name but one octave higher.

A chromatic scale-1 octave of notes

No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Note A A# / Bb B C C# / Db D D# / Eb E F F# / Gb G G# / Ab A
Audio downloads

Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

3. A harmonic minor scale note interval positions

The harmonic minor scale uses the W-H-W-W-H-W½-H note counting rule to identify the scale note positions.

To count up a Whole tone, count up by two physical piano keys, either white or black.

To count up a Half-tone (semitone), count up from the last note up by one physical piano key, either white or black.

To count up a tone (whole-tone and a half), count up from the last note by 3 half-tones / semitones – shown as 3 on the piano below.

The tonic note (shown as *) is the starting point and is always the 1st note in the harmonic minor scale.

Again, the final 8th note is the octave note, having the same name as the tonic note.

A harmonic minor scale note positions

No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Note A B C D E F G# / Ab A

What is the difference between the A harmonic minor scale and the A natural minor scale ?

The 7th note position (or scale degree) of the minor scale is raised by one half-tone / semitone to arrive at the harmonic minor scale note positions shown above, leaving a noticeably large interval of 3 half-tones / semitones between the 6th and 7th note positions for this scale.

Audio downloads

Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

4. A harmonic minor scale notes

The 7 unique notes in a scale need to be named such that each letter from A to G is used once only, so each note name is either a natural white name(A.. G) , a sharp(eg. F#) or a flat(eg. Gb).

This is needed to ensure that when it comes to writing the scale notes on a musical staff (eg. a treble clef), there is no possibility of having 2 G-type notes, for example, with one of the notes needing an accidental next to it on the staff (a sharp, flat or natural symbol).

To apply this rule, firstly list the white key names starting from the tonic, which are shown the White column below.

Then list the 7 notes in the scale so far, shown in the next column.

For each of the 7 notes, look across and try to find the White note name in the Scale note name.

If the natural white note can be found in the scale note, the scale note is written in the Match? column.

The 8th note – the octave note, will have the same name as the first note, the tonic note.

A harmonic minor scale

No. White Scale note Match?
1 A A A
2 B B B
3 C C C
4 D D D
5 E E E
6 F F F
7 G G# / Ab G#
8 A A A

For this harmonic minor scale, all notes have a match, and so the Match? column shows the harmonic minor scale note names.

5. A harmonic minor scale descending

For harmonic minor scales, the notes names when descending are just the reverse of the ascending names.

So assuming octave note 8 has been played in the step above, the notes now descend back to the tonic.

A harmonic minor scale descending

No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Note G# F E D C B A
Audio downloads

Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

6. A harmonic minor scale degrees

Scale degree names 1,2,3,4,5,6, and 8 below are always the same for all major and minor scales (ie. 1st note is always tonic, 2nd is supertonic etc.) , but obviously the note names will be different for each scale / key combination.

In the harmonic minor scale, the 7th note is called the leading note or leading tone because the sound of the 7th note feels like it wants to resolve and finish at the octave note, when all scale notes are played in sequence.

It does this because in this scale, the 7th note is only 1 half-tone / semitone away from the 8th note – the octave note. The A major scale and A melodic minor scale scales share the same property – they both have only one half-tone / semitone between the 7th and 8th notes.

In contrast, the A natural minor scale has a whole tone (two half-tones / semitones, two notes on the piano keyboard) between the 7th and 8th notes, and the 7th note does not lean towards the 8th note in the same way. In this case, the 7th note is called the subtonic.

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