I've recently had a discussion with a woman, let's call her Jane, who maintained that the A minor scale features G# rather than a natural G. According to her, the scale goes A, B, C, D, E, F, G#, A. While I'm moderately proficient (though I definitely lack authority) in harmony and general theory, I was pretty sure the scale is actually all natural, going by what I consider a basic principle, that C major and A minor are both all-natural scales, and that minor scales are "the same" as the major scale three semitones above them.
So I defended my position, and the discussion got heated. I said that maybe she was thinking of the harmonic or melodic minor scale (I never learned which is which), but that I was talking about the natural A minor scale and that one has no G#. Jane went on saying that if you're writing or playing in A minor then of course the dominant chord is E major, not E minor, because G#, and that you would never resolve the harmony using E minor. She concluded that I'm blatantly wrong, and that since Bach and the equal temperament the minor scale has always included a sharp seventh.
Now, the reason I'm asking here what is right and what is wrong is that Jane is a conservatory graduate in Piano and Harmony, and (you probably guessed it) I'm not. Maybe I'm just seeing things at a lower-intermediate level, and maybe I can't realise that my knowledge is basic handbook stuff, but she knows that a certain set of harmonic rules that I don't know mandate that you never use the actual natural minor scale. I don't know, I'm making this up, but I can imagine that there is a reason I don't understand.
So, to sum up:
- what does the A minor scale actually look like?
- if I'm writing a piece in A minor, should I use E minor or E major?
- is it possible that I am, like, "right but actually wrong" when I say A minor has no G#?
PS: as to the second and third question, I know that any note may have a place in any scale if just to create an intentional dissonance. I'm talking about classical harmony: think Bach, that she herself even mentioned.