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I'm following along Alfred's basic adult piano course book. They've introduced a harmonic minor scale, but I'm confused about what happens to the bass staff.

In the book it says "The 7th tone (G) is raised 1 half step, ASCENDING & DESCENDING". I did this for the treble staff as in the picture below. However, in the bass staff the 7th tone is (B) not (G) as per the picture below. Do I raise (B) by half step, or do I raise (G), the second tone? Or does the harmonic minor scale only affect the treble staff and I don't raise anything in the bass staff?

Harmonic Minor

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  • Good rule of thumb: Count upwards. Staff lines, scale degrees, frets, doesn't matter what, count upwards. (Except for guitar strings. Someone once assigned numbers to them the wrong way around and the result is that whichever way you try to count, most listeners will be confused. So best practice there is to not refer to them by a number at all.)
    – Divizna
    Commented May 31 at 16:23

3 Answers 3

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When speaking of the seventh (or second or third or… ) it’s always relative to the ascending scale.

These numbers — scale “degrees” — are associated with specific pitches within the scale. So, for A minor, the seventh degree is always G, even if playing a descending scale, and that G becomes G# for the harmonic minor, regardless which direction the scale is played.

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You didn't ask about measures three and four of the right hand; you just added the sharp on the second note in measure three. This is the same as the first two bars of the left hand.

Another way of looking at this is that numbering of a descending scale is 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, so the "seventh tone" of the theoretical scale is the second note that you play. (Because, as others have noted, a tone's relationship to the tonic is identified by its position in the ascending scale.)

So yes, all the Gs are raised, whether they occur in the seventh position, the second position, the tenth position, the fifteenth position, or indeed any other.

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Those notes are shown in reverse order in the bass clef - not sure why. But when you count from the root - A - you will always get to ^7 as G (in key A minor), so that's the note in question.

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    Contrary motion is used so that the same fingers on each hand play together.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 29 at 23:19
  • @Aaron - all well and good. No.3 'play with hands separate'.
    – Tim
    Commented May 30 at 7:43
  • The finger order still remains equal on both hands.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 30 at 13:08
  • @Aaron - which is discernible from the fingering numbers anyway...
    – Tim
    Commented May 30 at 13:11
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    Tim: @Aaron's comment seems to have been a response to the "not sure why" aside in the question. To elaborate, the point is to introduce the student to the skill of using both hands at the same time but without yet asking the student to do different things with the two hands. Whenever the hands are used at the same time, they mirror each other. (Earlier exercises in the book use the hands in alternation to play a single melody.)
    – phoog
    Commented May 30 at 17:50

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