The Music Corner for Piano Lovers

Using Solfege to Construct the Minor Scale

12 Jul 2014 News

 Last week I blogged about using Solfege to construct the major scale. Rather than remember individual notes or the formula WWH WWWH, I recommend using Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do. Here's a link to the post, if you missed it: Learning Scales: The Solfege Way

As pianists we learn to associate minor keys with their relative major. This is because the minor key has the same key signature as its relative major. E minor has one sharp just like its relative major, G; C minor has three flats like its relative major, Eb Major.

It's for this reason that I recommend using the sixth syllable of Solfege, La, to construct the minor scale rather than doing as some folks do and using Do Re Mi for the minor key. This is confusing for two reasons:

               1) Minor keys don't share the same key signature as their parallel majors 
               2) If you used Do, Re, Mi, you'd have to remember to lower Mi a half step to
                   Mi flat (Me), La to La flat (Le) and Ti to Ti flat (Te). (This changes the
                   relation between individual notes. Fa in this formulation is a whole note
                   up from Mi, or to be precise, Mi flat!)
Formulating the harmonic and melodic minor scales can get quite confusing, too. 

So, when you play or sing the minor scale use: La Ti Do Re Mi Fa Sol La. This is the natural minor scale, and as with the relative major, Ti is a half note down from Do and Mi and Fa are similarly a half step apart. You're playing the same notes as the relative major, but beginning from the sixth note, La.

For the descending scale sing La Sol Fa Mi Re Do Ti La.

In the harmonic minor scale, the seventh note of the minor scale, Sol, is raised a half step. The syllable for this raised Sol is Si. You may use it or simply think of the note as a Sol #. La Ti Do Re Mi Fa Sol# La.

For the melodic minor, both the sixth and seventh notes of the scale are raised a half step ascending. So, Fa becomes Fi and Sol becomes Si. Again, you can think of these notes as Fa # and Sol #, although it's useful to have a new syllable when you're singing the scale. La Ti Do Re Mi Fa# Sol# La.

Descending, you play the natural minor scale.  La Sol Fa Mi Re Do Ti La.

Let's construct the G natural minor scale: La Ti Do Re Mi Fa Sol La. Our first note is G. Ti is A. The next note, Do, is a half step up, making that a Bb. Do and Re are a whole note apart: C. Mi is D. Fa is a half step up from Mi, or D, making it an Eb. Sol is a whole note up from Fa, or Eb, which gives us an F. And that brings us back to La, or G.

Now, you try it! You'll find you can play any major or minor scale without having to memorize it.  



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