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Do you know the name of this scale? C D E♭ F G A♭ B

It's used in the Morrowind theme:

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What do you mean range? It's called a scale. And it's a c minor scale with raised seventh, also called the harmonic minor scale. – Raskolnikov Jul 16 '12 at 20:50

The scale is C D E♭ F G A♭ B♭, but the root note is not quite clear. It could be as well described in Eb Major.

In fact the beauty of the piece derives from its tonal ambivalence:

morrowind simplified

Like many pieces, most often baroque pieces, it starts in minor but directly goes into the parallel major key, Eb Major, and stays there until the end to finally go into the minor key again.

To freshen your mind, just in case:


  • Cm: tonic
  • Fm: sub-dominant
  • G: dominant (A major Chord!)


  • Eb: tonic
  • Ab: sub-dominant
  • Bb: dominant

What makes this so beautifully vague is that we start in C, and often end in C, depending on the formal position. The final cadence is in C-minor at least.

Inside the theme we we get very strong directional hints to Eb Major. Bar 1->2 is a real cadence Dominant(Bb) Tonic(Eb), in Bar 4 we get Ab, the sub-dominant in Eb but only the counter-parallel (Gegenklang) in C-minor. And I believe strongly that nobody hears this as counter-parallel but as belonging to Eb-Major.

The first hint that might be still in C minor is bar 8 where we get F as sub-dominant followed by C in 9.

While the last bar of the theme, as mentioned, changes between Eb and C throughout the whole piece the first time it is Eb and always it is preceded by Bb, the dominant to Eb major.

Typical for soundtracks (but not for baroque pieces) is the avoidance of the dominant G(-Major) because that would make it clear. For such a "flowing" piece like this theme it is considered to "hard" to bring the non-ambiguous dominant chord.

Conclusion: While the majority of the Morrowind Theme is in Eb Major the traditional approach would be to call it C Minor because it ends in C (and starts in C, even though that doesn't matter historically and systematically at all).

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"directly goes into the relative major"? (Cm → E♯) – ysdx Dec 19 '14 at 17:46
It would have been great to have the along with the sheet. – ysdx Dec 19 '14 at 17:47

The scale you describe (C D E♭ F G A♭ B) is, as Raskolnikov points out, a C harmonic minor scale.
However the scale used in the video is a C natural minor scale as the notes used are C D E♭ F G A♭ B♭.

(Parts of the melody, in the video, could be considered to be in the temporary tonic key E♭ -- the relative major of the song's overall tonic key Cm. For those parts you could consider the scale used as being an E♭ major scale, which uses the same notes as the C natural minor scale but starts on E♭.)

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