# Scale question.

brandon407
Registered User
Joined: 08/27/12
Posts: 3
07/22/2018 3:22 am

Hello,

I am reading up on the Em Scale. I am reading that the notes are E,F#,G,A,B,C,D , but I am showing that the scale formula is 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7 I am confused on how the G# is not shart but the F is according to the formula shouldnt the third note be Sharp?

jarkko.eklund
Full Access
Joined: 09/25/13
Posts: 212
07/22/2018 4:54 am

Remember to derive natural minor scale from parallel major scale.

E major scale:

E - F# - G# - A - B - C# - D#

Using the formula 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7 we get E natural minor scale:

E - F# - G - A - B - C - D

Other way to derive a natural minor scale is using relative major/minor method. Relative minor for a major scale starts from 6th scale degree. You can use circle of fifths to identify relative major/minor.

The relative major scale for Em is G major.

G major scale: G - A - B - C - D - E -F#

Starting from 6th degree we get E natural minor. The result is the same as with the first method.

brandon407
Registered User
Joined: 08/27/12
Posts: 3
07/22/2018 11:12 am

I think where I am is confused is 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7 . Wouldnt it be like E,F,G#,A,B,C#,D# . I thought when there was like a b3 it was a #.

ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,456
07/22/2018 2:12 pm
Originally Posted by: brandon407

I am reading up on the Em Scale. I am reading that the notes are E,F#,G,A,B,C,D , but I am showing that the scale formula is 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7 I am confused on how the G# is not shart but the F is according to the formula shouldnt the third note be Sharp?

You have the right idea but are applying it the wrong way! :) I think you might be conflating the scale degrees accidentals (sharps & flats) of one particular scale with the musical alphabet letters accidentals.

The musical alphabet is a constant, unchanging system of 12 notes that repeats over & again for as low or high as any given instrument ranges.

A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, repeat.

Each one of those is a half step apart. Any sharp can be renamed flat of the next letter (i.e.: A# is also B-flat) Any given scale starts on one of those letters & then applies the scale formula regardless of which natural or accidental it uses.

So, the A minor scale happens to have no accidentals because when you apply the minor scale formula.

A (root) whole step to

B (2nd) half step to

C (minor 3rd) whole step to

D (4th) whole step to

E (5th) half step to

F (minor 6th) whole step to

G (minor 7th) whole step to

A (root)

But the E minor scale has one sharp because when you start on E & apply the scale formula to the musical alphabet that is just where the notes happen to land.

E (root) whole step to

F# (2nd) half step to

G (minor 3rd) whole step to

A (4th) whole step to

B (5th) half step to

C (minor 6th) whole step to

D (minor 7th) whole step to

E (root)

One more example! If you want to play D minor, then you start on D but find that it's much easier to use flats for labelling.

D (root) whole step to

E (2nd) half step to

F (minor 3rd) whole step to

G (4th) whole step to

A (5th) half step to

B-flat (minor 6th) whole step to

C (minor 7th) whole step to

D (root)

You could call the B-flat an A#, but the problem is that you are already using the letter A on the 5th degree. So, for conceptual clarity & perceptual ease we call it B-flat in order to avoid doubling of the letters in one scale.

Hope that helps! Thanks to Jarkko for replying!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
brandon407
Registered User
Joined: 08/27/12
Posts: 3
07/22/2018 4:13 pm

Thank you!