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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.


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 Natural Minor


In the harmonic minor, the 6th 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 sixth note of the scale would be a D# instead of a D:

E Harmonic Minor


The melodic minor scale pattern is a bit more complicated because it is usually played differently on the way up to how it is played on the way down. On the way up, the 6th and 7th notes of the scale are sharpened. But on the way down, the scale is the same as the natural minor - that is, there are no extra sharps apart from the F# that is already in the key signature.

E Melodic Minor


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