Skip to main content

Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

Lesson 6 of 26

The Case of the Melodic and Harmonic Minor Scales

J. Anthony Allen

Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

J. Anthony Allen

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

6. The Case of the Melodic and Harmonic Minor Scales

Lesson Info

The Case of the Melodic and Harmonic Minor Scales

Okay, So one more thing to talk about before we move on to actually using these things to make some music and listen to some music. Um, I talked about before something called the natural minor scale that's we've been working with. We've been working with the natural minor scale. Um, there are two other variations of the minor scale that we often used as well. Um, now, these terms, I don't really care if remember these terms. I'm not big on terms. Just remember that they're kind of exceptions to the minor scale and things that we've kind of, uh, dense. We've banged into the minor scale to make it serve. Our purpose is a little bit better. Um, the 1st 1 is called the Harmonic Minor Scale. Now all the harmonic minor scale is is it's the minor scale. So I haven't a minor scale here. I'm gonna go to seventh scale degree the G in this case, I'm gonna raise it up by 1/2 step. Now we have a harmonic minor scale. Why would I do that? Why would I need to alter this? Um, the reason is I have a le...

ading tone now leading tone means a note that feels like it pushes into another note. It leads into another note, and in most cases, probably all cases it leads into the root, the name of of the scale or the quarter whatever. So when I add this G sharp when I raised the seventh, that note is gonna feel like it pushes back into a. That really helps it establish that we are in the key of a because we feel this push into a, um let's hear this harmonic minor scale. Okay, so you could feel on this note this g sharp this like at this, like leading in to a If I stopped it right on that g sharp, you would feel very unfulfilled. You would feel like we were going somewhere, and now it just stopped. So let's let's actually try that. I'm going to stop it right on the G sharp. So you like your hearing in your head. The next note, right? It's like leading you into it. That's why it's called leading toe, so that helps us just establish the the tonic of a minor. Whereas if we don't have that, just have the G in the natural minor scale, then we don't have that push of a leading tone. So sometimes we do use that that leading to push It also gives the scale a little bit different quality, right? Like it sounds different. It's got this kind of like, I don't wanna like stereotype, but it's like kind of like older Gypsy kind of sound. Um, from this this gap and the leading tone. So there's a minor third in here, and there's also a leading tone, though uh, right, So it's got that that leading tone in their feels good. Sometimes there's another variation of the of the minor scale, and it's called melodic minor scale, and all that one is is raising the sixth and the seventh. So thistles are natural minor scale to go to a melodic minor scale. We raised the sixth and the seventh, and that gives us kind of more of a leading tone. It also makes it so that, um, some of our cords turnout major, which is important sometimes. So let's hear this one thought this one, if you remember what we did to make the minor scale out of the major scale, is we from a major scale. We lowered the 3rd 6th and the seventh, right? So now we've raised the six in the seventh, but kept the third low. So I've sort of made this like hybrid. The first half is minor. The second half is major, but that's a melodic minor scale. It feels like it leads into two A. Very well, um, it it does sound like a minor scale that evolves into a major scale over the course of it. You don't hear that? Kind of, Ah, that minor third gap that I talked about a second ago. Um, it's just different. But sometimes we use these in a minor scale, especially. We're working on melodies. We'll talk more about this kind of stuff. When we get into working on melodies that you know these notes, they're fine, you can. The thing to remember is that if you are working on something on your in a minor key and you're like, man, it really sounds like that should be a g sharp. Then it's cool. You can totally do that. You're using a different kind of minor scale, but that's fine. It exists. Um, so don't ever let the theory dictate what you write? Um, you should always let your ear dictate what you write. But that being said, um, this particular theory can account for when you say, man, I really wish that was a g sharp. You could do it. Um, so that's the harmonic and melodic minor scales. Okay, moving on.

Class Description

In the first part of Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, we learned how to work with the piano roll editor in a DAW to make harmonies, melodies, and whole tracks. In this second part, we'll expand on those ideas. We'll work with minor keys, focus some time on melody and bassline writing, and we'll talk about how different tracks work. 

Extensive Analysis 

In this class, we feature an extensive track analysis segment by Daft Punk, Avicii, Skrillex, and many more. In each of these segments, we'll look at their tracks on the piano roll editor. We'll talk about why they sound the way they do, and how you can use similar techniques in your own music. Each of these segments picks apart multiple elements of the song and dissects it in an easily digestiable manner. 

Who should take this course? 

Anyone interested in producing their own tracks. This will get you up and running and give your tracks a unique sound in no time.


This course consists of video lectures, which all contain a session in Ableton Live 9. If you are using a different program (or none at all), no worries! This isn't a class on how to use Ableton Live, and the concepts can be applied to any DAW.  



Well, I slobbered all over you after your first class and this one is as good or better. I realize people don't go to college for 12 years and learn what you shared in a few hours and you didn't earn your doctorate with just this stuff. I mean Julliard must offer a lot more, but you have advanced my knowledge by miles and I've got to say thank you. Make some more of these simple, common talk courses - I'll buy them all.

Nick van Lochem

This course its so good he makes it al sound so easy. that ists easy to remember and use in your creations.

Scott Vincent

Very cool class - learned a lot from this class as well as from the Part 1 class. Highly recommend both classes!