MY question is what are the rules for melodic phrasing in minor scales. For example, I know that in a major scale the vii wants to go up to the I and the V can go where ever etc.

what are the rules for a minor scales (aeolian, dorian etc.) are they different? Where does the i want to pull up or down to and what would be the stable and unstable notes?

  • The i in any minor key/mode - Aeolian, Dorian, Phrygian etc., won't pull anywhere. It's already arrived! It's the root. It is the most stable in that key.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 10:51
  • there are rules for melodic phrasing? I never knew. I always just listened and tried to make stuff sound melodic. On the basis that if it sounds like it, it probably is, and if it doesn't it doesn't really matter what the rules say.
    – danmcb
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 10:56
  • Yea but I want to get the basics down before I start coming up with my own personal rules and confuse myself. To me it matters because of that.
    – user62096
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 20:46

2 Answers 2


Melodic phrasing is different than tonal characteristics.

The guidelines for melodic phrasing are the same regardless of tonality. I encourage you to research parallel answers and contrasting answers.

Antecedents can be thought of like questions. Consequents can be thought of as one of the two types of answers above. How long they are / their shape / character is unique to each piece.

Regarding your question concerning tonal characteristics: between the major and natural minor scales, only 3 notes change: 3, 6, and 7. Musica ficta was a technique developed to provide extra pull to the tonic. The harmonic minor scale ended up being the result. The melodic minor scale was developed to alleviate the augmented 2nd created by the harmonic minor scale, which at the time was considered not only difficult to sing, but harsh on the ear.

Besides the 7th, the question of where notes "pull" is largely dependant on context. If you set a drone of a fifth, then raise it to a minor-6th, to the listener, it's going to want to pull downward due to aural memory.

Context influenced by emphasis and aural memory shape which tones "pull" in which directions. This is true regardless of tonality.

  • To clarify I guess what I'm asking is about the degrees in a key or scale. Does the rules change? (chord progression also.) Like how V-I, or VII-I in a progression gives resolve. How does it work for the minor key since the diminsished is no longer the 7th and is now the ii. I know people say just play what I feel but everytime I do that I get stuck composing something that sounds like it's missing something and I want to fix it.
    – user62096
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 20:53
  • No. Rules don't change. Use common progressions if you need them. ii for example can still be used as a predominant / substitute for iv. Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 3:56

...antecedent and consequent phrase in minor scale?

I think you are asking about minor key music, so let's skip over modal music (Dorian, etc.)

Antecedent and consequent phrases are essentially defined by cadence types. The typical thing is an antecedent phrase ending with a half cadence on the dominant chord and a consequent phrase ending on the tonic. That model applies to minor key music too.

EDIT it seems part of your question is more generally about minor key harmony and how to handle the dominant chord, the antecedent aspect of harmony.

At the heart of dominant harmony in minor keys is raising the seventh scale degree to form dominant chords.

In C minor - with a key signature of three flats - the seventh degree is Bb. When you build a triad on the dominant the unaltered chord would be G Bb D. But the conventional thing to do is raise the seventh to make the chord G B D.

In technical terms the lowered seventh Bb one whole step below the tonic is called the subtonic, but the raised seventh B natural is a half step below the tonic and called the leading tone. The leading tone distinguished the dominant chord.

The leading tone triad is a diminished triad built on the leading tone. In C minor the leading tone triad is B D F. The leading tone triad is often considered an incomplete dominant seventh chord and can effectively function as a dominant chord. So, in minor key harmony there are two diminished chords: viio and iio.

  • Thank you. Only thing is how exactly does it apply to minor music? I'm getting confused as to if the dominant chord in a major key is the V and the Tonic the 1, is it the same in minor keys? the i is the tonic and the v is the dominant. Or is it different.
    – user62096
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 20:56
  • In common practice - basically Baroque and Classical eras - the dominant chord is always a major triad with an optional dominant seventh. You could write it like V(7) I or for minor V(7) i, putting the 7 in parenthesis to show it is optional. Also, upper case V means a major triad whereas lower case v means a minor triad. Again a true dominant in either major or minor will be a major chord V. Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 21:34

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