For ABRSM grade three you need to know the minor scales with up to four sharps or flats in the key signature. These are the new scales for this grade:

  • B minor
  • G minor
  • F# minor
  • C minor
  • C# minor
  • F minor

You should already be familiar with the minor scales in the keys of A, E and D.

In grade three music theory (ABRSM) you need to know two types of minor scales, the harmonic minor and the melodic minor.

  • The harmonic minor has the pattern T-S-T-T-S-3S-S (3S = 3 semitones).
  • The melodic minor has one pattern on the way up and another on the way down:
    • Ascending (from bottom): T-S-T-T-T-T-S
    • Descending (from top): T-T-S-T-T-S-T

If you find it difficult to remember all the patterns of tones and semitones, try this method instead: learn the notes of three types of minor scale for A minor – they are easy to learn. Then write out the A minor scale and calculate whether each step is a tone (whole step), semitone (half step) or three semitones (three half steps). Then use the same pattern as a guide, to write out a new scale in a different key.

Here are all the new minor scales you need to know for grade 3 music theory.

B minor harmonic scale

B minor harmonic treble
B minor harmonic bass

B minor melodic scale

B minor melodic treble
B minor melodic bass

G minor harmonic scale

G minor harmonic treble
G minor harmonic bass

G minor melodic scale

G minor melodic treble
G minor melodic bass

F# minor harmonic scale

F sharp minor harmonic treble
F sharp minor harmonic bass

F# minor melodic scale

F sharp minor melodic treble

C minor harmonic scale

C minor harmonic treble
C minor harmonic bass

C minor melodic scale

C minor melodic bass
C minor harmonic bass

C# minor harmonic scale

C# minor harmonic treble
C# minor harmonic bass

C# minor melodic scale

C# minor melodic treble
C# minor melodic bass

F minor harmonic scale

F minor harmonic treble
F minor harmonic bass

F minor melodic scale

F minor melodic treble
F minor harmonic bass

Notice that in the F# minor scales and C# minor scales there are two notes which you might not have seen before: E# and B#. These are both white notes on the piano. E# is the same note on the piano as F natural and B# is the same as C natural. But although they are the same note on an instrument, they are different notes in music theory, and you must be careful to use the correct one.

Remember that in scales, you can only use each letter name once, apart from the first and last notes of the scale. So we use E# (and not F natural) in the F# minor scale, because we have already used the letter “F” as the first and last notes of the scale. E# and F are called “enharmonic equivalents” (and so are B#/C and all the other notes which you are probably more familiar with, like Ab/G# or Eb/D# etc.)

Watch the video below, to see E# and B# used in a real piece of music- Domenico Scarlatti’s Keyboard Sonata in F# minor.

Scales Exercises

Write as semibreves (whole notes) the scales named below, without a key signature but including any necessary sharp or flat signs.

  1. F minor harmonic ascending
  2. B minor melodic ascending
  3. C# minor melodic descending
  4. C minor harmonic descending

Add the correct clef and any necessary sharp or flat signs to make each of the scales named below. Don’t use key signatures.

  1. E minor harmonic
  2. A minor melodic
  3. F# minor harmonic
  4. C minor melodic

Name the key of each of the following scales. If the key is minor, state whether the scale is in the harmonic or melodic form.

  1. x
  2. x
  3. x
  4. f) x