Is the following scale correct for C## Harmonic Minor?

C##, D##, E#, F##, G##, A#, B#

I read on a good music theory page and they had B## as 7th note in the key, so I was wondering, but I'm pretty sure mine is correct with B#.

  • C## is enharmonically identical to D, so you can just compare your notes to the notes in D Harmonic minor to see whether you're right. – Kilian Foth Jan 9 '19 at 7:22
  • 3
    This is theory gone crazy! Thank goodness it's only theory. Why would you want or need to write in such an obscure 'key'? – Tim Jan 9 '19 at 8:05
  • @Tim no doubt an exam question from a grouchy teacher :-) – Carl Witthoft Jan 9 '19 at 14:45
  • It would be helpful to know if this was purposefully difficult theory question from a teacher, a misunderstanding of enharmonic spelling, or just horrible web site. – Michael Curtis Jan 9 '19 at 16:46
  • Actually I just started learning music theory and I checked if everything I understood was correct so far. I transformed my knowledge into a Program and tested if my understaning was complete, so I compared my scales to some music page stuff and found a difference in this spot. – Basti Opa Jan 10 '19 at 0:00

Close; you actually do need Bx (B doublesharp) instead of just B♯. B♯ would be the minor seventh above Cx, and since harmonic minor has the major seventh (also called the leading tone), it must be Bx. Your scale is actually the Cx natural minor scale.

It's hard for me to imagine an instance where you might need the Cx (x being a doublesharp) harmonic minor scale, but there's one quick trick when dealing with difficult accidentals:

Spell it without the difficult accidentals, and then add the accidental(s) back to each pitch.

So instead of spelling the Cx harmonic minor scale, let's instead spell the C♯ harmonic minor scale, which is much easier:

C♯ D♯ E F♯ G♯ A B♯ C♯

Since that scale starts with C♯ and we want Cx, let's just add a sharp to each pitch, because that's what we do to get from C♯ to Cx:

Cx Dx E♯ Fx Gx A♯ Bx Cx

Or, maybe you'd rather start with the C harmonic minor scale:

C D E♭ F G A♭ B C

In which case we would add two sharps to each pitch. E♭ and A♭ would then pass through E♮/A♮ before proceeding to E♯/A♯.

This trick works for anything: scales, intervals, chords, you name it. So if you ever find yourself having trouble spelling a D♯ major triad, just think of a D major triad instead:

D F♯ A

And just add a sharp to each pitch:

D♯ Fx A♯
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    Thx mate. I just took a second look into the harmonic minor and I read over the thing that the 7th in key really is just one Semitone before the tonic. I had noted an Integer Notation of { 0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 } where infact it is { 0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11 } – Basti Opa Jan 9 '19 at 0:54
  • Love to know why, when there's already 12 quite usable scales available - Dm being one (!) why this comes up as a question. What about the Ebb harmonic minor?! And I bet the notes all have exactly the same pitch, even in just tuning...+1 for 2nd para. alone! – Tim Jan 9 '19 at 9:53
  • This is more of a theoretical correctness thing because I'm programming some Music/Piano stuff and I must have all the theory correct. It helps me understand everything better and will be useful for my Piano practice. – Basti Opa Jan 9 '19 at 23:56

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