B harmonic minor scale

The Solution below shows the B harmonic 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 harmonic minor scale note interval positions, choose the note names and scale degree names.

For a quick summary to this topic, have a look at Harmonic minor scale.

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

Solution - 2 parts

1. B harmonic minor scale

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

The B harmonic minor scale has 3 sharps.

This harmonic minor scale is based on the natural minor scale with the same key / tonic note - B natural minor scale.

Since the natural minor key is itself on the Circle of 5ths - B minor on circle of 5ths, this means that this is a commonly used harmonic minor scale key.

B harmonic minor scale note names
Note no.Note intervalNote name
1tonicThe 1st note of the B harmonic minor scale is B
2B-maj-2ndThe 2nd note of the B harmonic minor scale is C#
3B-min-3rdThe 3rd note of the B harmonic minor scale is D
4B-perf-4thThe 4th note of the B harmonic minor scale is E
5B-perf-5thThe 5th note of the B harmonic minor scale is F#
6B-min-6thThe 6th note of the B harmonic minor scale is G
7B-maj-7thThe 7th note of the B harmonic minor scale is A#
8B-perf-8thThe 8th note of the B harmonic minor scale is B

B harmonic 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 harmonic minor scale

B harmonic 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 the symbols grouped correctly next to the bass or treble clef symbol at the beginning, have a look at the B harmonic minor key signature.

B harmonic minor scale degrees
Note no.Degree name
1B is the tonic of the B harmonic minor scale
2C# is the supertonic of the B harmonic minor scale
3D is the mediant of the B harmonic minor scale
4E is the subdominant of the B harmonic minor scale
5F# is the dominant of the B harmonic minor scale
6G is the submediant of the B harmonic minor scale
7A# is the leading tone of the B harmonic minor scale
8B is the octave of the B harmonic minor scale

The difference between the B harmonic minor scale and the B natural minor scale is that the 7th note position of the minor scale is raised by one half-tone / semitone.

So whereas the B natural minor scale has note A for the 7th note, this note is raised to arrive at note A# for this harmonic minor scale.

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

2. B harmonic minor scale descending

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

B harmonic minor scale descending

B harmonic minor scale descending

B harmonic minor scale descending

B harmonic minor scale descending
No.1234567
NoteA#GF#EDC#B
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 tonic note and one octave of notes

This step shows an octave of notes in the key of B, 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 B, it is certain that notes 1 and 13 will be used in the scale.

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

B chromatic scale-1 octave of notes

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

3. B harmonic minor scale note interval positions

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

The harmonic minor scale uses the  W-H-W-W-H-W½-H  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.

To count up a tone (whole-tone and a half), count up from the last note by 3 half-tones / semitones - shown as 3 on the piano below.

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

B harmonic minor scale note positions

Again, the final 8th note is the octave note, having the same name as the tonic note.
B harmonic minor scale note positions
No.12345678
NoteBC# / DbDEF# / GbGA# / BbB

What is the difference between the B harmonic minor scale and the B natural minor scale ?

The 7th note position (or scale degree) of the minor scale is raised by one half-tone / semitone to arrive at the harmonic minor scale note positions shown above, leaving a noticeably large interval of 3 half-tones / semitones between the 6th and 7th note positions for this scale.

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

4. B harmonic 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 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 harmonic minor scale
No.WhiteScale noteMatch?
1BBB
2CC# / DbC#
3DDD
4EEE
5FF# / GbF#
6GGG
7AA# / BbA#
8BBB

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

B harmonic minor scale

5. B harmonic minor scale descending

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

For harmonic 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 harmonic minor scale descending

B harmonic minor scale descending
No.1234567
NoteA#GF#EDC#B
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

6. B harmonic minor scale degrees

This step shows the B harmonic minor scale degrees - tonic, supertonic, mediant, subdominant, dominant, submediant, leading note / tone, and octave.
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 harmonic minor scale, the 7th note is called the leading note or leading tone because the sound of the 7th note feels like it wants to resolve and finish at the octave note, when all scale notes are played in sequence.

It does this because in this scale, the 7th note is only 1 half-tone / semitone away from the 8th note - the octave note. The B major scale and B melodic minor scale scales share the same property - they both have only one half-tone / semitone between the 7th and 8th notes.

In contrast, the B natural minor scale has a whole tone (two half-tones / semitones, two notes on the piano keyboard) between the 7th and 8th notes, and the 7th note does not lean towards the 8th note in the same way. In this case, the 7th note is called the subtonic.

B harmonic minor scale degrees
Note no.Degree name
1B is the tonic of the B harmonic minor scale
2C# is the supertonic of the B harmonic minor scale
3D is the mediant of the B harmonic minor scale
4E is the subdominant of the B harmonic minor scale
5F# is the dominant of the B harmonic minor scale
6G is the submediant of the B harmonic minor scale
7A# is the leading tone of the B harmonic minor scale
8B is the octave of the B harmonic minor scale