An introduction to music theory
An introduction to music theory

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

An introduction to music theory

5.8 Minor scales: the natural form

The major scale is only one of the group of scales used in both western art and western popular music as the basis of composition. Another is the minor scale. As we’ve seen, the major scale has only one form generated by the intervallic pattern, T T S T T T S. By contrast, the minor scale has three forms, which all use the same key signature:

  1. natural
  2. melodic
  3. harmonic.

We know that the key signature for C major has no sharps or flats. For the A minor scale, this is the same. Here is the natural form of the scale:

Example 50

Download this audio clip.Audio player: a224_1_pm_mu050.mp3
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

You’ll notice that it is similar to the major scale in that it can be played on a keyboard using only the white notes. The only difference is that it begins not on C, but on A. However, this alters the intervallic structure. Instead of T T S T T T S, we get:

The intervallic structure of the natural form of the A minor scale

A–B Tone
B–C Semitone
C–D Tone
D–E Tone
E–F Semitone
F–G Tone
G–A Tone

We can represent this symbolically as T S T T S T T.

Skip Your course resources

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus