B-flat natural minor scale

The Solution below shows the Bb minor scale notes, intervals and scale degrees on the piano, treble clef and bass clef.

The Lesson steps then explain how to identify the B-flat minor scale note interval positions, choose the note names, and scale degree names.

For a quick summary of this topic, have a look at Natural minor scale.

Keys in the natural minor scale
KeyCC#DbDD#EbEE#FbFF#GbGG#AbAA#[Bb]BB#CbAll On 1 page

Solution - 2 parts

1. B-flat natural minor scale

This step shows the ascending B-flat natural minor scale on the piano, treble clef and bass clef. It also shows the scale degree names for all 8 notes.

The B-flat natural minor scale has 5 flats.

This minor scale key is on the Circle of 5ths - Bb minor on circle of 5ths, which means that it is a commonly used minor scale key.

This scale sounds the same as the A# natural minor scale, which is also a commonly used scale. The same notes are played in the same order in each scale - they sound identical. Only the names of the individual notes are different.

B-flat natural minor scale note names
Note no.Note intervalNote name
1tonicThe 1st note of the B-flat natural minor scale is Bb
2Bb-maj-2ndThe 2nd note of the B-flat natural minor scale is C
3Bb-min-3rdThe 3rd note of the B-flat natural minor scale is Db
4Bb-perf-4thThe 4th note of the B-flat natural minor scale is Eb
5Bb-perf-5thThe 5th note of the B-flat natural minor scale is F
6Bb-min-6thThe 6th note of the B-flat natural minor scale is Gb
7Bb-min-7thThe 7th note of the B-flat natural minor scale is Ab
8Bb-perf-8thThe 8th note of the B-flat natural minor scale is Bb

B-flat minor scale

Middle C (midi note 60) is shown with an orange line under the 2nd note on the piano diagram.

These note names are shown below on the treble clef followed by the bass clef.

B-flat minor scale

B-flat minor scale

The stave diagrams above show the scale notes without a key signature, with the sharp / flat adjustments inserted before each note on the staff.

For the key signature of this scale, showing these symbols grouped correctly next to the bass or treble clef symbol at the beginning, have a look at the Bb natural minor key signature.

B-flat natural minor scale degrees
Note no.Degree name
1Bb is the tonic of the B-flat natural minor scale
2C is the supertonic of the B-flat natural minor scale
3Db is the mediant of the B-flat natural minor scale
4Eb is the subdominant of the B-flat natural minor scale
5F is the dominant of the B-flat natural minor scale
6Gb is the submediant of the B-flat natural minor scale
7Ab is the subtonic of the B-flat natural minor scale
8Bb is the octave of the B-flat natural minor scale

The difference between the B-flat natural minor scale and the Bb major scale is that the 3rd, 6th and 7th note positions of the major scale are lowered by one half-tone / semitone.

So whereas the Bb major scale has notes D, G, A for the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes, these notes are lowered to arrive at notes Db, Gb, Ab for this natural minor scale.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

2. B-flat natural minor scale descending

This step shows the descending B-flat natural minor scale on the piano, treble clef and bass clef.

B-flat minor scale descending

B-flat minor scale descending

B-flat minor scale descending

B-flat natural minor scale descending
No.1234567
NoteAbGbFEbDbCBb
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

Lesson steps

1. Piano key note names

This step shows the white and black note names on a piano keyboard so that the note names are familiar for later steps, and to show that the note names start repeating themselves after 12 notes.

The white keys are named using the alphabetic letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, which is a pattern that repeats up the piano keyboard.

Every white or black key could have a flat(b) or sharp(#) accidental name, depending on how that note is used. In a later step, if sharp or flat notes are used, the exact accidental names will be chosen.

Sharp and flat note names

The audio files below play every note shown on the piano above, so middle C (marked with an orange line at the bottom) is the 2nd note heard.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

2. B-flat tonic note and one octave of notes

This step shows an octave of notes in the key of Bb, to identify the start and end notes of the scale.

The numbered notes are those that might be used when building this note scale.

But since this is a scale in the key of Bb, it is certain that notes 1 and 13 will be used in the scale.

Note 1 is the tonic note - the starting note - Bb, and note 13 is the same note name but one octave higher.

B-flat chromatic scale-1 octave of notes

B-flat chromatic scale-1 octave of notes
No.12345678910111213
NoteBbBCC# / DbDD# / EbEFF# / GbGG# / AbABb
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

3. B-flat natural minor scale note interval positions

This step applies the minor scale note interval pattern starting from B-flat, so that the correct piano keys and note pitches can be identified.

The natural minor scale uses the  W-H-W-W-H-W-W  note counting rule to identify the scale note positions.

To count up a Whole tone, count up by two physical piano keys, either white or black.

To count up a Half-tone (semitone), count up from the last note up by one physical piano key, either white or black.

The tonic note (shown as *) is the starting point and is always the 1st note in the natural minor scale.

B-flat minor scale note positions

Again, the final 8th note is the octave note, having the same name as the tonic note.
B-flat natural minor scale
No.12345678
NoteBbCC# / DbD# / EbFF# / GbG# / AbBb

What is the difference between the B-flat natural minor scale and the Bb major scale ?

The 3rd, 6th and 7th note positions (or scale degrees) of the major scale are lowered by one half-tone / semitone to arrive at the minor scale note positions shown above.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

4. B-flat natural minor scale notes

This step tries to assign note names to the piano keys identified in the previous step, so that they can be written on a note staff in the Solution section.

The 7 unique notes in a scale need to be named such that each letter from A to G is used once only, so each note name is either a natural white name(A.. G) , a sharp(eg. F#) or a flat(eg. Gb).

This is needed to ensure that when it comes to writing the scale notes on a musical staff (eg. a bass or treble clef), there is no possibility of having 2 G-type notes, for example, with one of the notes needing an accidental next to it on the staff (a sharp, flat or natural symbol).

To apply this rule, firstly list the white key names starting from the tonic, which are shown the White column below.

Then list the 7 notes in the scale so far, shown in the next column.

For each of the 7 notes, look across and try to find the White note name in the Scale note name.

If the natural white note can be found in the scale note, the scale note is written in the Match? column.

The 8th note - the octave note, will have the same name as the first note, the tonic note.

B-flat minor scale
No.WhiteScale noteMatch?
1BBbBb
2CCC
3DC# / DbDb
4ED# / EbEb
5FFF
6GF# / GbGb
7AG# / AbAb
8BBbBb

For this natural minor scale, all notes have a match, and so the Match? column shows the natural minor scale note names.

B-flat minor scale

5. B-flat natural minor scale descending

This step shows the notes when descending the B-flat minor scale, going from the highest note sound back to the starting note.

For natural minor scales, the notes names when descending are just the reverse of the ascending names.

So assuming octave note 8 has been played in the step above, the notes now descend back to the tonic.

B-flat minor scale descending

B-flat natural minor scale descending
No.1234567
NoteAbGbFEbDbCBb
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

6. B-flat natural minor scale degrees

This step shows the B-flat natural minor scale degrees - tonic, supertonic, mediant, subdominant, dominant, submediant, subtonic, and tonic.
In music theory, each note in this scale has what is called a scale degree name, which describes the relationship of that note to the tonic(1st) note.

Scale degree names 1,2,3,4,5,6, and 8 below are always the same for all major and minor scales (ie. 1st note is always tonic, 2nd is supertonic etc.) , but obviously the note names will be different for each scale / key combination.

In the natural minor scale, the 7th note is called the subtonic, and it has a whole tone (two half-tones / semitones, two notes on the piano keyboard) between the 7th and 8th notes in the scale.

In contrast, the Bb major scale has only one half-tone / semitone separating the 7th and 8th notes, and in this case the seventh note is called the leading note or leading tone, as the 7th note feels like it wants to resolve and finish at the octave note, when all major scale notes are played in sequence.

Both the Bb harmonic minor scale and Bb melodic minor scale scales share the same property - having a leading tone, with the major scale.

B-flat natural minor scale degrees
Note no.Degree name
1Bb is the tonic of the B-flat natural minor scale
2C is the supertonic of the B-flat natural minor scale
3Db is the mediant of the B-flat natural minor scale
4Eb is the subdominant of the B-flat natural minor scale
5F is the dominant of the B-flat natural minor scale
6Gb is the submediant of the B-flat natural minor scale
7Ab is the subtonic of the B-flat natural minor scale
8Bb is the octave of the B-flat natural minor scale