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How to Play Minor Scales on the Violin

Updated: June 29, 2021

How to Play Minor Scales on the Violin

There are three main types of minor scale: natural minor, melodic minor and harmonic minor. You can think of them as three different 'flavours'!

Each type of minor scale uses a different note pattern, so it has a distinct, recognisable sound. You will need to use different finger patterns to play these scales on the violin.


E Natural Minor

In the natural minor scale, you just play the notes that are indicated by the key signature. So for E natural minor, all notated Fs become F#s because there is one sharp in the key signature.

But all other notes stay the same:


E Harmonic Minor

In the harmonic minor, the 7th note of the scale is sharpened. This means that it goes up by one half-step (semitone), compared to the equivalent note in the natural minor scale.

So in E harmonic minor, the seventh note of the scale would be a D# instead of a D:


E Melodic Minor

The melodic minor scale pattern is a bit more complicated because the 6th and 7th notes of the scale are raised by one half step (semitone).

Traditionally, musicians play this scale by raising the 6th and 7th on the way up, but then reverting to the natural minor scale on the way down.

For the E minor melodic scale, this means there are no extra sharps on the way down, apart from the F# that is already in the key signature.


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