Sounds Hard But Is Easy: F# Melodic Minor

Things That Sound Hard but Are Very Easy

Sometimes, certain things sound very hard but are surprisingly easy to pull off.
An example of this is soloing in the key of F#

Most musicians would think of this as “advanced” or “really challenging”. The thought is: “Wooaww, the key of F# has 6 sharps, hard!”

But what if I told you that the key of F# is actually not (that much) harder than the key of C?

What is the trick?
Simple: rather than thinking of an F# major scale as having 6 sharps, think of the scale as having 1 white key.
F# major scale: a B note and all the rest is sharped.

F# major is only a hard scale when you think of it as having 6 sharps. It feels like a big ordeal to have to worry about that many black keys.
If however you just focus on the 1 note that is not sharped, B, then F# major isn’t any harder than say an F or a G major scale.

We surely all can handle focusing on 1 note.

The Melodic Minor Trick

So to raise the ante, if you think F# is a challenging key, then the thought of having to solo in F# melodic minor, must REALLY be scary.

Good news: there is also a trick to figure out the notes in all melodic minor keys, really quickly and easily.

As discussed in last week’s blog

The Melodic Minor Scale?

A melodic minor scale is the scale you get when you lower the 3rd note in a major scale.

All you need to know then is the key signature to all the major scale keys, and bingo: you can easily figure out all the notes in all the melodic minor scales.

Some examples:

C melodic minor scale = all white keys but with Eb instead of E

G melodic minor = G major scale with b3 = keysignature: F# and Bb

D melodic minor scale = D major scale key signature (F# and C#) with lowered 3 –> F# down to F = 1# C# and 6 naturals (white keys)

F melodic minor scale = F major scale key signature (1b Bb) with lowered 3 –> A note down to Ab = 2b’s Bb and Ab and 5 naturals (white keys: F G C D E)

If that somehow doesn’t immediately make sense: all this gets well-explained in lessons.
This all easily makes sense for students who are on a plan, and already learned key signatures of major scales.

Following that same reasoning, remember that the F# major scale had 1 white key (B) and the rest was sharped?

Well, following the logic that a melodic minor scale is a major scale with a lowered 3rd, figuring out the notes in F# melodic minor is actually much easier than one would think.
It’s 2 white keys, B and A, and the remaining 5 notes are #.

F# major: F# G# A# B C# D# E#

Lowering the 3rd gives you:

F# melodic minor: F# G# A B C# D# E#

The easiest way to be able to solo in F# melodic minor right away?
Think “A and B are naturals, and the remaining 5 letters are sharped”.
Who would have thought that such a “tough” key or scale, is actually pretty easy?

Lesson to be learned from this and last week’s blog: it’s pretty easy to figure out the key signatures (in other words: “what the notes are”) to all 12 keys for the melodic minor scale.
Use your major scale key signature knowledge, and then lower the 3rd.

E major scale has 4 sharps: F# C# G# D#
E melodic minor is THAT same key signature BUT with the G# note (the 3rd in the key of E) lowered to G.
Conclusion: E melodic minor = E F# G A B C# D#

And off you are, practicing/memorizing the key signatures for all 12 melodic minor keys.
Back to those good old flashcards.


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