Everything You Need to Know About the F Minor Scale

Today we’re talking all about the F minor scale.

There are actually three different types of minor scales: Natural, Harmonic, and Melodic minor scales.

We’ll cover the basic formula for finding the minor scales of any key, as well as the specific notes of each kind of F minor scale.

F Minor Scale (Natural)

If a scale is simply described as minor, you may assume it’s the natural minor scale. This is the simplest minor scale to understand. Natural minors are used the most often out of any other kind of minor scale in popular music.

Any natural minor scale is built with the following intervals:

Note 1 = Tonic or the Root note, or note the scale is named after

Note 2 = Major 2nd from Tonic/Whole Step up from Note 1

Note 3 = Minor 3rd/Half Step up from Note 2

Note 4 = Perfect 4th/Whole Step up from Note 3

Note 5 = Perfect 5th/Whole Step up from Note 4

Note 6 = Minor 6th/Half Step up from Note 5

Note 7 = Minor 7th/Whole Step up from Note 6

Note 8 = Perfect 8th/Whole Step up from Note 7

So when we use this formula starting with F, the F minor natural scale looks like F, G, Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F

*Music Theory tip #1*

An easy way to memorize the intervals of a natural minor scale is…

W + H + W + W + H + W + W

“W” = Whole Step

“H” = Half Step

*Music Theory tip #2*

The relative major of F natural minor is Ab. This means both F natural minor and Ab major have the same number of flats in their key signature. If you played all the same notes of F minor scale starting at Ab, you would end up playing the Ab major scale.

Famous Songs That Use F Natural Minor Key

Many pop songs use the key of F minor natural. Most modern songwriters will choose the natural minor of any key over the harmonic or melodic when they need to write a minor key song.

You may have heard of some of these popular, melancholy tunes in F minor:

  • “Hello” by Adele
  • “One More Night” by Maroon 5
  • “Telephone” by Lady Gaga
  • “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
  • “Dream On” by Aerosmith
  • “In Pieces” by Linkin Park
  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

F Harmonic Minor Scale

The harmonic minor and natural minor scales are almost identical, with one important difference. The harmonic minor scale raises the 7th by a half step.

Note 1 = Tonic or the Root note

Note 2 = Major 2nd from Tonic/Whole Step up from Note 1

Note 3 = Minor 3rd/Half Step up from Note 2

Note 4 = Perfect 4th/Whole Step up from Note 3

Note 5 = Perfect 5th/Whole Step up from Note 4

Note 6 = Minor 6th/Half Step up from Note 5

Note 7 = Major 7th/One and a Half Steps up from Note 6

Note 8 = Perfect 8th/Half Step up from Note 7

Let’s see how this affects the notes in the F harmonic minor scale…

F, G, Ab, Bb, C, Db, E, F

Raising the 7th of the F natural minor scale means the F harmonic minor scale is missing Eb. To play F harmonic minor, play E natural instead.

*Music Theory tip*

An easy way to memorize the intervals of a harmonic minor scale is…

W + H + W + W + H + (WandH) + H

“WandH” = One and a half steps

Famous Songs That Use F Harmonic Minor Key

Harmonic minor scales/chords tend to sound middle eastern or “exotic.”

  • Most Jewish folk songs use harmonic and melodic minor scales, sometimes venturing into Arabic minor scales
  • The timeless Christmas song “Carol of the Bells” is in harmonic minor
  • Jazz musicians love to use harmonic minor for solos
  • Many modern songwriters in the rock/metal genre will make use of a harmonic minor scale, but rarely write entire songs in harmonic minor

F Melodic Minor Scale

Melodic scales are unique in that the notes of the scale can change depending on when and how you’re playing the scale.

For the most part, a melodic minor scale is played one way while ascending the scale and switches back to the natural minor scale while descending.

This is the most frequently played version of the melodic minor scale. There are some exceptions where the same ascending melodic minor pattern is played while descending the scale, but most schools teach switching to natural minor while descending a melodic minor scale.

We’ll lay out the melodic minor interval pattern and then spell out both the ascending and descending notes of the F melodic minor scale for your convenience.

Melodic Minor Interval Pattern:

Note 1 = Tonic – the Root note, or note the scale is named after.

Note 2 = Major 2nd from Tonic/Whole Step up from Note 1

Note 3 = Minor 3rd/Half Step up from Note 2

Note 4 = Perfect 4th/Whole Step up from Note 3

Note 5 = Perfect 5th/Whole Step up from Note 4

Note 6 = Major 6th/Whole Step up from Note 5

Note 7 = Major 7th/Whole Step up from Note 6

Note 8 = Perfect 8th/Half Step up from Note 7

So which notes will you actually be playing?

ASCENDING: F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, E, F

Note 1 = F

Note 2 = G

Note 3 = Ab

Note 4 = Bb

Note 5 = C

Note 6 = D

Note 7 = E

Note 8 = F

DESCENDING:

(F minor natural scale)

Note 8 = F

Note 7 = Eb

Note 6 = Db

Note 5 = C

Note 4 = Bb

Note 3 = Ab

Note 2 = G

Note 1 = F

*Music Theory tip*

An easy way to memorize the intervals of the (ascending) melodic minor scale is…

W + H + W + W + W + W + H

Famous Songs That Use F Melodic Minor Scale

It’s hard to find any songs that use the melodic minor scale for much more than a melody.

However, some of the most well-loved and timeless songs make use of a melodic minor scale throughout the melody:

  • “Greensleeves”
  • “Yesterday” by The Beatles
  • I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder
  • “When You Wish Apon a Star” by Leigh Harline

Learning F Minor Scales

Hopefully, this has given you a thorough understanding of three types of F minor scales and how to play them on any instrument.

Happy playing!

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