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When I was in high school, I was the first chair clarinet. I thought I knew everything there was to know about music theory. Then I discovered melodic minor scales. They were beautiful and complex—and at the same time, they totally humbled me as a musician.

While I found myself swimming in all the finer details of melodic minor scales back then, it turns out that they’re not quite as intimidating as I thought. In this short, but comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about melodic minor scales.

What is a Melodic Minor Scale?

Believe it or not, there’s a dictionary definition for the melodic minor scale—but it’s actually pretty confusing. All you need to know is that the melodic minor scale is a minor scale with raised sixth and seventh scale degrees, but only when you’re ascending up the scale. 

What is the Difference Between a Harmonic and Melodic Minor Scale?

When you play a harmonic minor scale, the 7th step of the scale is usually raised a half step. By “half step,” imagine traveling the distance on a piano from one white key to a black key directly above it. When you apply this to a scale like F minor, you’d end up with F, G, A♭, B♭, C, D♭, and E.

On the other hand, a melodic minor scale has a raised sixth and seventh step. But when the melodic minor scale descends, it is the same as a harmonic minor scale? Nope! When you play a melodic minor scale down, it’s just like a natural minor scale. 

Looking to learn how to write a melodic minor scale from this point? When you apply this to F minor, you’d end up with F – G – A♭- B♭- C – D – E – F.

7 Different Melodic Minor Scales

E Melodic Minor Scale

As we discussed, there are two components of a melodic minor scale. If you want to know how to write a melodic minor scale in E minor, you’d play E, F♯, G, A, B, C♯, D♯ when you’re ascending. When you descend, you’d end up with E, D, C, B, A, G, F♯.

music chart
Source: Pianoscale
This sheet music shows you all the notes you’d play in E melodic minor.

C Melodic Minor Scale

C melodic minor is a pretty interesting adventure, especially as you’re learning how to make a melodic minor scale. When ascending, you’ll play C, D, E♭, F, G, A, B, C. When you’re descending, you’ll play C, D, E♭, F, G, A♭, B♭, C.

c major scale
Source: Liberty park Music
This sheet music shows you all the notes you’d play in C melodic minor.

A Melodic Minor Scale

A minor is one of my favorite scales on the guitar, but the melodic minor is even more interesting. When ascending, you’ll play A, B, C, D, E, F#, G#, A. Descending, you’ll need to play A, G, F, E, D, C, B, A.

music chart
Source: Open textbooks
This sheet music compares a variety of A minor scales, including A melodic minor.

G Melodic Minor Scale

At this point, you might be getting comfortable with the formula for how to make a melodic minor scale. When ascending, the notes of G melodic minor are G, A, B♭, C, D, E, F♯. When descending, you’ll play G, F, E♭, D, C, B♭, A.

g minor scale
Source: Wikimedia
This sheet music shows you all the notes you’d play in G melodic minor.

D Melodic Minor Scale

When you apply the melodic minor formula to D minor, you’ll play the following notes ascending: D, E, F, G, A, B, C♯. When you’re descending, you’ll play D, C, B♭, A, G, F, E.

d minor scale
Source: Wikimedia
This sheet music shows you all the notes you’d play in D melodic minor.

B Melodic Minor Scale

What happens when you apply the melodic minor formula to A minor? Ascending, you get the notes B, C♯, D, E, F♯, G♯, A♯. Descending, you’ll play B, A, G, F♯, E, D, C♯.

b minor scale
Source: Wikimedia
This sheet music shows you all the notes you’d play in B melodic minor.

F Melodic Minor Scale

We went through this scale earlier in our guide, but we’ll do it again so it’s easier to find in the future. When ascending, you’ll play F, G, A♭, B♭, C, D, E. While descending, you’ll play F, E♭, D♭, C, B♭, A♭, G.

f minor scale
Source: Wikimedia
This sheet music shows you all the notes you’d play in F melodic minor.

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