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Learning scales


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#1 MaggieH

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 13:53

HI,  I am about to embark on Grade 3 piano ABRSM , but have a question about the scales, I don't usually have  a problem but  sometimes I have a confused spot   with the C minor scale , which one do they mean,  C minor natural ,   Harmonic or melodic?  

 

 Please correct me if I get any  wrong .    

 

C harmonic minor Eb Ab  

C melodic, Eb 

C natural minor, Eb Ab Bb

 

 

 

Thanks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#2 Latin pianist

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 14:20

You get the choice of learning harmonic or melodic minors but not natural ones.So what you have put for C harmonic minor is correct but C melodic minor has Eb going up but also Bb and Ab coming down.I usually teach the harmonic minor at grade 3 as they are the same going up and down. So for grade 3 as well as C minor you do G minor which in harmonic form has Bb Eb and F# and B Minor which has C# F# and A#.
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#3 MaggieH

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 15:00

 Latin Pianist, thank you very much for explaining  all  that to me.   I think I'll choose the C minor harmonic.     smile.png


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#4 Saxwarbler

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 16:58

I usually teach the harmonic minor at grade 3 as they are the same going up and down

Am I alone in choosing to play melodic rather than harmonic minors? My teacher says people at my stage (pre-grade 3) almost always choose harmonic for just the reason you say. I don't know why I prefer them. Maybe it's because they sound ... well ... yes, more melodic. Or I wonder whether it's because I prefer to learn the 'hard' way first and the harmonics will (in theory) be easier when I have to play them.smile.png


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#5 Sylvette

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 17:05

Hi Saxwarbler, it may be because you are a singer and so you are more used to the melodic minor, which tends to be used in vocal pieces as it is eaier to sing.  My piano teacher teaches the harmonic minor in lower grades, but I tend to agree with you that the melodic sounds 'better'.


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#6 Latin pianist

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 17:21

I really enjoy teaching melodic minors but I feel that where they're compulsory ie grade 6 is the best time to teach them because the student will have played all the keys and done grade 5 theory so they will understand them easily.
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#7 MaggieH

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 18:36

I think  beginners choosing the easier scales is understandable, as they also have to learn , contrary motion, scales and chromatic,  arpeggios,  theory, and playing the chosen pieces  exam pieces,  and trying to get in 2 hours practice a day,  is quite a feat !    smile.png

 

  OH and Remembering correct fingering for B minor scales  , Eb major scales , etc.    


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#8 Arundodonuts

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 20:02

Am I alone in choosing to play melodic rather than harmonic minors?

 

I tend to prefer melodic. Somehow it seems easier to remember. It's identical to the major going up with the exception of the flattened 3rd and then you just need to flatten the 7th and 6th on the way down. Though that method doesn't fit into the key signature of the minor very well (which would be sharpen 6th and 7th on the way up with respect to the key sig).

 

I think there is a lot to be said for thinking about minors with respect to their key signatures AND their major equivalents - two different approaches.


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#9 sbhoa

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 20:09

I prefer melodic and find them easier on both piano and clarinet.

Like many others I only learned melodic minors on piano after grade 5 and wondered why not sooner as they were so much easier to play.


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#10 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 20:36

The replies here are a revelation.  Granted, I'm only preparing for grade 2 but I had assumed everyone learned both melodic and harmonic versions of minor scales for the early grades but, of course, chose to play one or the other (or a mixture) when it came to the exam. I had no idea some teachers don't introduce the melodic minor.

 

I've learned both forms (and did so for grade 1), and I will go for the melodic versions most likely in the exam, not out of any strong music preference but more that when I practise scales – apart from the 'random picker' practising – I play the melodic first followed by the harmonic.

 

I did wonder before my grade 1 if examiners mark the melodic more favourably than the harmonic given the asymmetry of the former and arguable greater challenge, but the marking criteria makes no reference to this.


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#11 Latin pianist

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 20:44

Some of the children I teach struggle to learn the scales at all, and the idea of teaching both sorts to them would be ridiculous. It's different for an adult . And the idea that if there is a choice in the exam one of the options would get more marks would be totally wrong unless this was mentioned in the syllabus, just as you will not get more marks for performing a more difficult piece.
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#12 Arundodonuts

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 21:04

The replies here are a revelation.  Granted, I'm only preparing for grade 2 but I had assumed everyone learned both melodic and harmonic versions of minor scales for the early grades but, of course, chose to play one or the other (or a mixture) when it came to the exam. 

Ah well it's only recently you've had the choice. When I did my exams you could be asked either.


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#13 Steven Carr

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Posted 22 August 2018 - 07:29

There is only one minor scale.

 

As shown by the fact that you do not have 3 different key signatures - one for natural, one for melodic, and one for harmonic.

 

There is only one key signature.

 

What happens when people compose music is that composers choose the notes which make a strong cadence when they want a strong cadence. That is called a 'harmonic scale'.

 

Or composers choose intervals which are easier to sing. That is the 'melodic' scale.

 

But there is only one minor scale.

 

That is why Beethoven's '32 Variations' is in C Minor , and you do not have to specify C Minor Harmonic , or C Minor Melodic, or C Minor Natural. Just 'C Minor' is all that is needed, because there were not 3 minor scales for Beethoven to choose from.


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#14 EllieD

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Posted 22 August 2018 - 08:09

I find melodic scales usually easier to play than harmonic as some of the harmonic scales have quite a little stretch across the augmented second (especially Dmin and Gmin when it goes across two black notes thus increasing the chance of falling off!). But if I were to choose one, I would probably opt for the harmonic anyway as somehow to me it seems the purer form of the scale - it just is what it is but with a sharpened 7th. 


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#15 hennylemon

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Posted 22 August 2018 - 13:38

 

The replies here are a revelation.  Granted, I'm only preparing for grade 2 but I had assumed everyone learned both melodic and harmonic versions of minor scales for the early grades but, of course, chose to play one or the other (or a mixture) when it came to the exam. 

Ah well it's only recently you've had the choice. When I did my exams you could be asked either.

 

 

Yeah, my teacher's taught me only the harmonic versions so far (learning Grade 2). I understand the difference between them, but I haven't learned to play the melodic ones yet. 


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