What's the difference between
Melodic Minor scales
Harmonic Minor scales
Natural Minor scales
and Minor Scales?

I have heard all mentioned before and I'm a little confused.
The Major Scale: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The Minor Scale=Aeolian=Natural Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Melodic Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7
Harmonic Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7

A minor scale must contain a root, a fifth, and a minor third. You can play the the other notes and still maintain a minor tonality.
I know that A Harmonic Minor goes 'A B C D E F G#', so how does that connect to
'1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7'? And does Aeolian really just mean Minor? And what does Ionian mean?
Major!?
Quote by ashesofthewake
I know that A Harmonic Minor goes 'A B C D E F G#', so how does that connect to
'1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7'?
Compare A harmonic minor to A major. There are 5 notes in common, A, B, D, E, and G#, so I won't talk about those. The two notes that are different are C and F. C# is the major third of the A major scale, so if you lower it a half-step and make it a minor third (b3), it is C. The same is true of the F# in A major. It is the major sixth. If you lower is one half-step to F, it is the minor third (b6). These seven notes, A B C D E F G#, make up the A harmonic minor scale.

Quote by ashesofthewake
And does Aeolian really just mean Minor?
It means natural minor.

Quote by ashesofthewake
And what does Ionian mean?
Major!?
Yes. It means natural major, as in "do mi so" and such.
^so then what is Phrygian?
well, what would it be in notes? say, A phrygian?
Quote by bangoodcharlote
a minor third

How many half steps is that?
Quote by andersoncouncil
How many half steps is that?
three. or, one and a half steps. a major third is two steps.
Quote by ashesofthewake
well, what would it be in notes? say, A phrygian?
A Bb C D E F G

Quote by andersoncouncil
How many half steps is that?
It is one half-step below a major third and three half-steps above the root. So if you have A as the root, C is the minor third and C# is the major third. C is one half-step below C# and three above A.

Just so everyone knows, one fret is equal to one half-setp.
Ok..here.

The Natural minor scale is also called the Aeolian scale. He has it correct with the 1, 2, b3,etc...You can base anything from a major key to it's relative minor easily. LIKE...C major can go into the A natural minor VERY easily considering they are the same key. So, C major scale is C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C....the A natural minor scale is A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A. Same accidentals.

The Harmonic minor scale is the scale you will most often see used out of the minors. It is the same as the natural minor, but with the raised 7th. So, in A Harmonic minor, you'll have, A, B, C, D, E, F, G#,A. That G# adds a good sense of a leading tone when moving towards the tonic, A. You can use Harmonic minor based things in the same key, C Major, or A natural minor.

Now, the BIG flaw with bangoodcharlottes answer on melodic minor scales is the descending path. On the way up, he has it right. It is, still in A...A, B,C, D,E,F#,G#,A...but on the way DOWN, its A, G, F, E, D, C, B, A..it adds a very cool major/minor trade off feel.

Now the names "Aeolian" and "Ionian" refer to different modes of a scale. Or, in short, the same key signature of a scale, but starting on a different pitch. The Ionian is a simple Major scale. Beginning on, In the key of C, the tonic note, C. The next mode is the Dorian mode, which, still in the key of C, starts on the second scale degree, D, but stays in the same key as C. So, the scale is D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D. They keep going up that way in this order, Ionian (Major), Dorian,Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (Minor), and Locrian. It is simply a different starting pitch within a single key.

I hope that helped.
Quote by ashesofthewake
three. or, one and a half steps. a major third is two steps.

By "two steps" you mean whole steps?
Quote by andersoncouncil
By "two steps" you mean whole steps?
Yes. Two steps=4 half-steps=4 frets

Quote by cbursley346924
but with the raised 7th
It's a natural seventh, so you would never write harmonic minor as 1 2 ...b6 #7 as #7=8 and that's not what you mean. Scale intervals are always in relation to the major scale.

Quote by cbursley346924
Now, the BIG flaw with bangoodcharlottes answer on melodic minor scales is the descending path. On the way up, he has it right. It is, still in A...A, B,C, D,E,F#,G#,A...but on the way DOWN, its A, G, F, E, D, C, B, A..it adds a very cool major/minor trade off feel.
Traditionally speaking, melodic minor is melodic minor up and aeolian down, but that isn't all that important in modern music.

Quote by cbursley346924
Now the names "Aeolian" and "Ionian" refer to different modes of a scale. Or, in short, the same key signature of a scale, but starting on a different pitch. The Ionian is a simple Major scale. Beginning on, In the key of C, the tonic note, C. The next mode is the Dorian mode, which, still in the key of C, starts on the second scale degree, D, but stays in the same key as C. So, the scale is D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D. They keep going up that way in this order, Ionian (Major), Dorian,Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (Minor), and Locrian. It is simply a different starting pitch within a single key.
No. D Dorian is not in the key of C. It is a D minor scale, and therefore, in the key of D minor. I don't care that it contains the same notes as C major, it is in D minor.
Quote by bangoodcharlote
The Major Scale: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The Minor Scale=Aeolian=Natural Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Melodic Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7
Harmonic Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7

A minor scale must contain a root, a fifth, and a minor third. You can play the the other notes and still maintain a minor tonality.

Locrian can be considered minor as far as I know, and that has a diminished 5th.

Quote by The way to hate
Locrian can be considered minor as far as I know, and that has a diminished 5th.
Locrian screws everything up. It has the minor third, but that diminished fifth really ruins things. I can't imagine writing a song entirely in Locrian, so I would use minor as the key.

I don't really know what to do, though.
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Locrian screws everything up. It has the minor third, but that diminished fifth really ruins things. I can't imagine writing a song entirely in Locrian, so I would use minor as the key.

I don't really know what to do, though.

Wherever I May Roam - Metallica is entirely in E locrian. Hah.

But yah, Locrian generally is gross.
Quote by The way to hate
Wherever I May Roam - Metallica is entirely in E locrian. Hah.
There are enough Bs scattered about the song that we can say it's E minor with a bunch of chromatic Bbs. Hah.
Ok, so. A few things. The term "Raised 7th" is in refernce to the natural minor scale. Therefore, to make a natural minor into a harmonic minor you...DUN DUN DUN...Raise the 7th.

The melodic minor IS important to have the melodic way up and aeolian down because of the feel it gives off, otherwise, you may as well just write in minor with chromaticism.

and YES sir, D Dorian IS in the key of C. Because D minor has a B flat. because D minor's relative major is F major. Dorian refers to a mode of a major scale. So, its the second scale degree. What is "D" the second scale degree of? C MAJOR! YAY! *Does a happy dance*

And your "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8" , "1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7, 8" system isnt very good. Because A. you're assuming someone knows the pattern of a major scale and B. it doesnt show the relationship between the minor and it's relative major. IF you're going to do it that way, start with making sure someone knows the major scale. We'll use C. The scale is "C,D, E, F, G, A, B, C".

We'll number those all 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1...those are scale degrees.

Natural minor would now make sense to be 6,7,1,2,3,4,5,6 *same key*

Harmonic minor would now be 6, 7,1, 2, 3, 4, #5, 6

Melodic would now be 6, 7, 1, 2, 3, #4, #5, 6,5,4,3,2,1,7,6

so now, all of your minor scales show the relationship to their relative major. Makes more sense in the end.

Now Modes...

Ionian = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1
Dorian= 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2
Phrygian= 3,4,5,6,7,1,2,3
ETC....

all of that makes sense and is in no means incorrect. Besides, after I wrote this, I went and checked with my music theory prof. here. All of this is correct info. *I am earning a music degree..I think you can trust me*
Last edited by cbursley346924 at Feb 21, 2007,
Quote by cbursley346924
Ok, so. A few things. The term "Raised 7th" is in refernce to the natural minor scale. Therefore, to make a natural minor into a harmonic minor you...DUN DUN DUN...Raise the 7th.
That wasn't to correct you, mainly because you didn't say anything wrong. I was augmenting your post in an attempt to clarify that it is ridiculous to call harmonic minor "Aeolian #7."

Quote by cbursley346924
and YES sir, D Dorian IS in the key of C. Because D minor has a B flat. because D minor's relative major is F major. Dorian refers to a mode of a major scale. So, its the second scale degree. What is "D" the second scale degree of? C MAJOR! YAY! *Does a happy dance*
No, D Dorian is not in the key of C. It resolves to D, not C. You wouldn’t write the key signature of A harmonic minor as one sharp, G#, so why would you write D Dorian’s key signature wit one flat, Bb?

Quote by cbursley346924
And your "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8" , "1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7, 8" system isnt very good…

…Now Modes...

Ionian = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1
Dorian= 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2
Phrygian= 3,4,5,6,7,1,2,3
ETC....
This is all kinda-sorta correct. The major flaw is that you keep calling “1” the root. While this is good for Ionian, it is bad for the rest. You can’t call C the root of F Lydian; that’s clearly ridiculous.