# How to Build a Melodic Minor Scale

## INTRODUCTION

The melodic minor scale is one of the three minor scales we have in music (the others being the natural minor and harmonic minor).  One way it is different from the two other minor scales is that it uses different notes depending on whether it is going up (ascending) or down (descending).

Here is an example of a relatively simple melodic minor scale (simple as in it has very few sharps or flats). Can you guess the name of it?
In this article, I am going to show you two different ways to build a melodic minor scale from any note. I hope you’re excited – let’s go!

## BUILDING A MELODIC MINOR SCALE

Like I did with the natural and harmonic scales, I will show you two methods you can use to construct the melodic minor scale. The first is a sort of cookie-cutter method – by applying a set formula to our notes. The second is a slightly more sophisticated way that will require a bit of prior knowledge of music theory. Let’s begin with the first method now.

## Method 1: Using a formula

Here, we will create a melodic minor scale by simply following a formula of whole steps and half steps. Remember that the notes of this scale are different depending on whether we are going up or down, which means we will have two different formulas, one of the ascending version and the other for descending. Here they are:  Now, let’s use these formulas to build a couple of minor scales.

### Example 1: A Melodic Minor Scale

We will start off easy by building the A melodic minor scale, which we have already seen. Applying the above pattern of whole steps and half steps gives us the following result:
Not too hard, right? Of course this method assumes that you at least know how to raise or lower notes using accidentals, so you still need a bit of music theory I suppose!

### Example 2: D Melodic Minor Scale

Let’s apply the same method to build another melodic minor scale, the D melodic minor. Applying the formula carefully gives us the following result:
Hopefully the formula method makes sense. Now, let’s move on and see another way to build melodic minor scales!

## Method 2: Using the Harmonic & Natural Minor scales

For this method, we need to be familiar with the natural minor and harmonic minor scales, which can be thought of as the predecessors of the melodic minor scale. In my experience, this method is more practical than just memorizing a formula of whole steps and half steps as it is more meaningful for the brain, which makes it easier to remember (at least for me!).The idea here is to take the harmonic minor scale as our starting point and to modify it slightly on the way up (ascending). Then,  just use the natural minor scale on the way down (descending).

### Example 1: A Melodic Minor Scale

Let’s build the A melodic minor scale to start with. We will begin with the A harmonic scale first, which we know contains a G# as its raised 7th degree. So it looks like this:
For the melodic version, we are only going to use the ascending portion of the harmonic scale and modify it slightly by also raising the 6th degree (F becomes F#). So let’s do that now:
Great, we’re half way there. Now for the descending portion, which is even easier. All we have to do is bring our 6th and 7th degrees back down by a half step. In other words, use the A natural minor scale. So we get:
Perfect. Now we have the ascending and descending parts of our scale written separately. If we want to write them together, however, we will need to cancel out the sharps in the ascending part with natural signs in the descending part, so our complete A melodic minor scale will look like this:

### Example 2: D Melodic Minor Scale

Now, let’s do a few more examples for practice. Let’s build the D melodic minor scale this time. We know that D harmonic minor looks like this:

Raising the 6th gives us the ascending portion of the D melodic minor scale:
Bringing down the 6th and 7th gives us the descending portion: And with the two halves written together on the safe staff, we get our complete D natural minor scale, which looks like this:

### Example 3: F# Melodic Minor Scale

Let’s raise the 6th ascending: Let’s lower the 6th and 7th for the descending part: Finally, let’s put the two halves together for our complete version: