B-flat melodic minor scale

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

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

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

 Key C C# Db D D# Eb E E# Fb F F# Gb G G# Ab A A# [Bb] B B# Cb All On 1 page

Solution - 3 parts

1. B-flat melodic minor scale

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

The B-flat melodic minor scale has 3 flats.

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

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

This scale sounds the same as the A# melodic 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 melodic minor scale note names
Note no.Note intervalNote name
1tonicThe 1st note of the B-flat melodic minor scale is Bb
2Bb-maj-2ndThe 2nd note of the B-flat melodic minor scale is C
3Bb-min-3rdThe 3rd note of the B-flat melodic minor scale is Db
4Bb-perf-4thThe 4th note of the B-flat melodic minor scale is Eb
5Bb-perf-5thThe 5th note of the B-flat melodic minor scale is F
6Bb-maj-6thThe 6th note of the B-flat melodic minor scale is G
7Bb-maj-7thThe 7th note of the B-flat melodic minor scale is A
8Bb-perf-8thThe 8th note of the B-flat melodic minor scale is Bb

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.

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 Bb melodic minor key signature.

B-flat melodic minor scale degrees
Note no.Degree name
1Bb is the tonic of the B-flat melodic minor scale
2C is the supertonic of the B-flat melodic minor scale
3Db is the mediant of the B-flat melodic minor scale
4Eb is the subdominant of the B-flat melodic minor scale
5F is the dominant of the B-flat melodic minor scale
6G is the submediant of the B-flat melodic minor scale
7A is the leading tone of the B-flat melodic minor scale
8Bb is the octave of the B-flat melodic minor scale

For ascending scale notes, the difference between the B-flat melodic minor scale and the Bb natural minor scale is that the 6th and 7th note positions of the minor scale are raised by one half-tone / semitone.

So whereas the Bb natural minor scale has notes Gb, Ab for the 6th and 7th notes, these notes are raised to arrive at notes G, A for this melodic minor scale.

 Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

2. B-flat melodic minor scale reverse descending

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

The difference between the two types of melodic minor descending variations are explained in steps 6 and 7 of the Lesson steps below.

 No. Note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 A G F Eb Db C Bb
 Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

3. B-flat melodic minor scale classical descending

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

 No. Note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Ab Gb F Eb Db C Bb
 Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

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.

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.

 Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

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

This step shows an octave of notes in the key of B-flat, 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.

 No. Note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Bb B C C# / Db D D# / Eb E F F# / Gb G G# / Ab A Bb
 Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

3. B-flat melodic minor scale note positions

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

The melodic minor scale uses the  W-H-W-W-W-W-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.

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

Again, the final 8th note is the octave note, having the same name as the tonic note.
 No. Note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Bb C C# / Db D# / Eb F G A Bb

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

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

 Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

4. B-flat melodic minor scale notes

This step tries to give assign 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).

The rule ensures that every position of a staff is used once and once only - whether that position be a note in a space, or a note on a line.

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-flat melodic minor scale
No.WhiteScale noteMatch?
1BBbBb
2CCC
3DC# / DbDb
4ED# / EbEb
5FFF
6GGG
7AAA
8BBbBb

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

5. B-flat melodic minor scale reverse descending

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

The first variation for descending notes is to just reverse the ascending notes and note names as shown below.

This descending note variation is mostly used in non-classical music eg. Jazz, but is occasionally used in classical.

 No. Note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 A G F Eb Db C Bb
 Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

6. B-flat melodic minor scale classical descending

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

The second variation for descending notes is to use the descending notes from the Bb natural minor scale, as shown below.

This descending note variation is often used in classical music.

 No. Note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Ab Gb F Eb Db C Bb
 Bass Clef: Midi MP3 Treble Clef: Midi MP3

7. B-flat melodic minor scale degrees

This step shows the B-flat melodic 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 melodic 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 Bb major scale and Bb harmonic minor scale scales share the same property - they both have only one half-tone / semitone between the 7th and 8th notes.

In contrast, the Bb 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-flat melodic minor scale degrees
Note no.Degree name
1Bb is the tonic of the B-flat melodic minor scale
2C is the supertonic of the B-flat melodic minor scale
3Db is the mediant of the B-flat melodic minor scale
4Eb is the subdominant of the B-flat melodic minor scale
5F is the dominant of the B-flat melodic minor scale
6G is the submediant of the B-flat melodic minor scale
7A is the leading tone of the B-flat melodic minor scale
8Bb is the octave of the B-flat melodic minor scale