B Minor Scale - Your Piano Learning Guide (2024)

Most piano students don’t start out learning minor scales. But once you’ve got the major scales out of the way, you’ll likely move on to the natural minor scales. Today, we’ll take a look at the B minor scale. It’s important to note that we mean the B natural minor scale.

Getting to Know the B Minor Scale

Composer Christian Schubart wrote some of the most famous characterizations of the major and minor keys. His description of the B natural minor scale sounds pleasant: “This is as it were the key of patience, of calm awaiting one’s fate and of submission to divine dispensation.”

It’s an emotional key that’s somewhat popular in pop music, and there’s no shortage of classical compositions in B minor, either. A few examples are Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Chopin’s Scherzo No. 1, and Liszt’s Piano Sonata.

Formula, Structure, and Intervals of the B Minor Scale

You may already know the formula you can use to figure out a minor scale. To get a natural minor scale, start with your root note and follow the pattern whole-half-whole-whole-half-whole-whole. If we do that, we get these seven notes: B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A. That’s the B natural minor scale.

Now you know the note names of the scale. But did you know each also has a scale degree name and interval name? Here they are:

  • B tonic (this is the scale degree and interval)
  • C# major 2nd (supertonic)
  • D minor 3rd (mediant)
  • E perfect 4th (subdominant)
  • F# perfect 5th (dominant)
  • G minor 6th (submediant)
  • A minor 7th (subtonic)
  • B (one octave higher) (octave) perfect 8th

As you can see, there are two sharps in the B natural minor scale. If you look at the key signature of a piece of music, you’ll be able to tell if it’s in the key of B minor by looking for these two sharps. When you’re looking at a treble clef, bass clef, alto clef, etc., look for sharp symbols where the C and F normally are.

How to Play the B Minor Scale on Piano

It takes a lot of practice to be able to play a scale from memory. To help you get started on the B natural minor scale, we’ve included a breakdown of how to play it. This video lesson will also show you how to play it correctly on the piano keyboard.

Right Hand:

  • Start with B, the key immediately to the left of C. Use your thumb (1).
  • Next, play C#, the key (black key) to the immediate right. Use your index finger (2).
  • After that, play D (the next white key). Use your middle finger (3).
  • Now move your thumb (1) beneath your fingers and to the right to play E, the next white key.
  • Then play F# (the first black key after E). Use your index finger (2).
  • Now play G (the next white key). Use your middle finger (3).
  • After that, play A (the next white key). Use your ring finger (4).
  • Lastly, play B (one octave above the first B you played) with your pinky (5). This is the next white key.

Left Hand:

  • First, play B. Use your ring finger (4).
  • Then play C#. Use your middle finger (3).
  • Next, play D. Use your index finger (2).
  • After that, play E. Use your thumb (1).
  • Cross your fingers over your thumb and play F#. Use your ring finger (4).
  • Then play G. Use your middle finger (3).
  • Next play A. Use your index finger (2).
  • Lastly, play B (one octave higher). Use your thumb (1).

The B minor natural scale requires a little more finger flexibility than some scales. That’s because when playing the scale with your left hand, you must cross three fingers over your thumb. With most other scales, you only need to cross two fingers.

Parallel and Relative Scales

As you learn, make time to understand how different scales relate to one another. Each minor scale (or minor key) has a relative major scale (or major key). Relative majors and minors have the same notes in their scales but in different orders. The D major scale has the notes D, E, F#, G, A, B, and C#. It’s the relative major of the B natural minor scale.

If two scales have the same root note, they are parallel scales. The B natural minor scale and the B major scale both have B as their root note, so they are parallel scales.

Chords of the B Minor Scale

If you’ve also learned the music theory behind some other scales, you might already know the formula of Roman numerals to find chords in a scale. Lowercase numerals indicate minor chords, uppercase numerals indicate major chords, and the degree sign means the chord is diminished. Here are the chords in the key of B minor:

  • i. Bm
  • ii˚. C#dim
  • III. D
  • iv. Em
  • v. F#m
  • VI. G
  • VII. A

Remember that the chords above are just the basic chords in the key. Extended versions, seventh versions, etc., are still in the key of B minor. Each chord has a scale degree identical to its corresponding note on the B natural minor scale.

Songs in B Minor

The best way to familiarize yourself with B minor’s sound and mood are to listen to some songs in the key. Here are a few to start with:

  • 1. “Disturbia” by Rihanna
  • 2. “Listen To Your Heart” by Roxette
  • 3. “Karma Police” by Radiohead
  • 4. “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga
  • 5. “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5
  • 6. “Hotel California” by The Eagles
  • 7. “Suicide is Painless” by Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman
  • 8. “Reptilia” by The Strokes
  • 9. “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses
  • 10. “Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan

Common Chord Progressions in B Minor

Taking a closer look at some of the songs above can give you an idea of some common B minor chord progressions. The catchy intro to Rihanna’s “Disturbia” has a progression of i-III-VII-VI-i-III (Bm-D-A-G-Bm-D). And the chorus to the iconic “Hotel California” by The Eagles has a surprisingly simple chord progression: VI-III-V7-i (G-D-F#7-Bm). “Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan has an intro with an i-iv-v (Bm-Em-F#m) progression.

Check out these other commonly-used progressions in the key:

  • i-iv-v (Bm-Em-F#m)
  • i-VI-VII (Bm-G-A)
  • i-VI-III-VII (Bm-G-D-A)

Final Thoughts

We hope that understanding some of the music theory behind the B minor scale will help you learn and remember it! Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

B Minor Scale - Your Piano Learning Guide (2024)


How to play B minor on piano scale? ›

The ascending notes of B melodic minor are: B, C-sharp, D, E, F-sharp, G-sharp, and A-sharp going up. However, when descending, return the 6th and seventh notes to what they were in natural minor: then B, A-natural, G-natural, F-sharp, E, D, C-sharp, and B going down.

What is the pattern of the B minor scale? ›

B minor is a minor scale based on B, consisting of the pitches B, C♯, D, E, F♯, G, and A. Its key signature has two sharps.

What is the easiest minor scale to learn on the piano? ›

Start with the natural minor, because it is the easiest to learn and remember, and it's also the most common minor scale used in popular music.

What is the finger position for the B minor scale? ›

The B Minor harmonic in the right hand starts of with the thumb on the B. When you get to the D with your third finger, bring your thumb under to hit the E. Follow the rest of the scale finger by finger and you should end up on the final B with your pinky finger.

What emotion is B minor? ›

Bbm: Feels like the night, darkness, blasphemy, death, and destiny. B: Feelings of strength, wildness, passion, jealousy, fury, negativity, and the will to fight. Bm: Solitude, melancholy, patience, calm, submission, and acceptance.

What is the step pattern for minor scale? ›

Minor scales are built with a formula of half and whole steps as follows: W, H, W, W, H, W, W. Major scales are built with a formula of half and whole steps like this: W, W, H, W, W, W, H. Basically, they're built from a different sequence of half and whole steps, which changes the sound of the scale.

What is the difference between B major and B minor? ›

The B major scale contains seven notes and starts and ends on B. Major scales are arranged in a specific pattern of whole and half steps: W-W-H-W-W-W-H. The B natural minor scale follows the key signature of its relative major: D major. In natural minor scales, there are no additional accidentals.

What is the root note of the B minor scale? ›

The first note, B, is the root note of the scale. If you were building a B minor chord, you would combine the root note B with the minor third D and the perfect fifth F#.

What is the trick for minor scales? ›

This is the other trick to minor: You can change any major scale into a minor scale by changing notes 3, 6, and 7 – MI, LA, and TI. Simply lower each of these notes by a half step, and voila, you have a minor scale!

What should A piano beginner learn first? ›

One of the first things you'll learn as a new piano player is the layout of the keyboard. You'll learn the musical alphabet and how to form scales and simple chords. Practicing chords and scales can feel tedious, but knowing them well will help you familiarize yourself with the keyboard.

How can I memorize piano scales easily? ›

5 Ways to Remember the Music Notes on a Scale
  1. Use Mnemonic Devices. Mnemonic devices are helpful memory aids that can help children remember the names of the notes on a scale. ...
  2. Practice Makes Perfect. Repetition is key when it comes to learning music. ...
  3. Visualize the Notes. ...
  4. Learn the Pattern. ...
  5. Gamify the Process.
Mar 15, 2023

What is the key signature of the B minor scale? ›

The notes of the B Minor scale are B C# D E F# G A. It's key signature has 2 sharps.

What is the B minor scale on a keyboard? ›

The notes of the B melodic minor scale ascending are: B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G# – A# – B. The notes of the B melodic minor scale descending are: B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G – A – B. The formula for a melodic minor scale is W-H-W-W-W-W-H.

What piano notes are in B minor? ›

The notes of a Bm chord are B, D, and F#. The B minor triad chord is actually a bit trickier than some of the other listed chords, because a B minor piano chord actually uses the note F#, often played by the pinky finger.

How do you find the B minor scale? ›

The notes of the B melodic minor scale ascending are: B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G# – A# – B. The notes of the B melodic minor scale descending are: B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G – A – B. The formula for a melodic minor scale is W-H-W-W-W-W-H. The descending formula is the natural minor scale formula backwards.

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