Major and minor scales

How can I identify my minor scales faster? I'm good with my major scales, but I always have to reference my major scales when identifying my minor scales.

• In what context? Are you identifying the scales in a score, or are you Identifying the notes in the scales for a kind of quiz, or self test? – amalgamate Jan 26 '15 at 16:45
• self test/quiz for music theory class. – Hannah Chinchilla Jan 26 '15 at 16:47
• One such pattern is obviously the circle of fifths. – amalgamate Jan 26 '15 at 16:57
• That is the user that answered your question below. – mey Jan 26 '15 at 17:01
• No problem. .. lol. Is Tenuto helpful.. or do you want to consider making flash cards? So on one side you write, for example, "D major" and on the flip side you will write "B minor". – mey Jan 26 '15 at 17:10

4 Answers

As you are familiar with solfege, i could suggest another strategy: press a note of your choice (eg. A flat) and take that sound as "do". Then based on what you have learned, find the relative minor key and press the corresponding note. If it sounds "la" then you are correct. In this case, F will sound like "la", so the relative minor key here is F minor. Hope this makes sense. This method works well for me, and if you are an auditory and/or kinesthetic learner this would be helpful too.

If the piece starts or ends on the root of the relative minor then it is a good deal that it is written in the minor key. If the Anacrusis is build on the fifth scale degree of the minor key then it is a good bet it is written in the minor key.

Also always check whether the leading tone of the minor key is raised or not.

• Sometimes a piece starts and ends at the 3rd note of a major key (which is really the dominant of its relative minor key). My husband wrote a composition like this. i think I can say that it was based that relative minor key. – mey Jan 27 '15 at 17:40

Essentially the same notes as the relative major a minor 3rd above, for instance the same collection of notes for A minor as for C Major. The tonic, subdominant and dominant (A, D and E in A minor) will be referenced frequently at phrase boundaries; you will normally (not always) see accidentals as the melodic seventh is sharped to lead into the tonic (e.g., G♯ in A minor); you may see the melodic 6th degree sharped as well (F♯ in A minor).

That second point is the key: you will usually see a lot of the tonic, subdominant and dominant chords at the beginnings and ends of phrases.

Knowing intervals and the general scale patterns is a big help whenever trying to identify scales. The tell tale sign of a minor scale is it has a minor 3rd instead of a major 3rd. If you can find the tonic, it's just a simple matter of comparing the notes to the known intervals.

Once you start analyzing pieces of music, look at key signatures and the rest points(cadences) of the piece as they will be able to tell you what key you are in rather easily.

If you still need help I would review musictheory.net especially the minor scale section.