The B flat Minor Scale: A Complete Guide

By Jade Bultitude
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The B flat Minor scale is a 7 note scale that uses the following notes:

Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, Gb and Ab.

B flat minor scale with note names

The scale is usually written as starting and ending on B flat and it can be repeating at higher or lower octaves. B flat Minor is a diatonic scale, which means that it is in a key, in this case the key of B flat Minor!

The Natural Minor Scale

There are three types of minor scale: the natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor. In this post we will stick to A Natural Minor Scale, but you learn about Bb Harmonic Minor and Bb Melodic Minor in our other articles. 

How is the B flat Natural Minor scale created?

All Natural Minor scales follow a specific pattern of tones and semitones (steps and half steps). The tone pattern is:

Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone

If we take the start at a C and follow the pattern we will get the C Natural Minor Scale. To create the B flat Natural Minor scale, follow the tone/semitone pattern starting on the note Bb.

Whichever note you start on, you will always achieve the minor scale starting on this note. 

B flat minor scale, with tones and semitones labelled

B flat Minor Scale on the Piano

As you can see, if we were to play this scale on the piano diagram we will use five black keys for each of the 5 flats.  

B flat minor scale on piano with keys labelled

To play this scale on the piano use the fingers written below.

B flat minor scale piano fingerings, right hand

B flat Minor Scale on the Guitar

To play the Bb Natural Minor scale on the guitar use the tab below.

B flat minor scale guitar tabs two octaves

Degrees of the Scale: B Flat Minor  

Each note in the B flat Minor scale has a position that we call the degree of the scale. The first note of the scale is called the ‘tonic’ note.

B flat minor scale with degress of the scale

Key Signature for B flat Minor

Rather than writing the flat signs on the individual notes, we can now make use of the key signature. B flat Minor is the relative minor of D flat Major. You can work this out because B flat is the sixth note of D flat Major.

This means that they both share a key signature and have five flats: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db and Gb.

B flat minor scale key signature treble clef

Here is B flat minor written out using the key signature.

B flat minor scale with key signature, one octave

B flat Minor Scale in Different Clefs

Treble Clef

Below is the B flat Natural Minor Scale written out in the treble clef, both ascending and descending.

B flat minor scale treble clef ascending and descending

Bass Clef

Below is the B flat Natural Minor Scale written out in the bass clef, both ascending and descending.

B flat minor scale bass clef ascending and descending

Alto Clef

Below is the B flat Natural Minor Scale written out in the alto clef, both ascending and descending.

B flat minor scale alto clef ascending and descending

Tenor Clef

Below is the B flat Natural Minor Scale written out in the tenor clef, both ascending and descending.

B flat minor scale tenor clef ascending and descending

What is the Relative Major of B Flat Minor

circle of fifths, b flat minor and d flat major highlighted

As you can see from the circle of fifths diagram Bb Minor is the relative minor of Db Major. Or to say it another way: Db Major is the relative major of Bb Minor. This means that both scales share the same key signature and have five flats. 

The great thing about this is that both scale are identical except for that Bb Minor starts on a ‘Bb’ and Db Major starts on a ‘Db’.

What are the chords in the B Flat Minor scale?

There are chords starting on each note of the B flat Minor Scale. To learn more, see our dedicated post on B flat Minor Chords. 

What do we mean when we say a piece is ‘in the key of B Flat Minor’?

  If we say that a piece of music is in the key of Bb Minor, this means a few things:

  • The key signature will have five flats as the relative major is Db major.
  • The tonic (or root note) of the piece will be Bb. This note will sound the most stable in the whole piece.
  • The piece will mostly use notes from this scale, these could be in any octave.
  • The chords used will be those chords that are in B flat Minor. 

What’s next….

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AUTHOR
Jade is an experienced musician and teacher as well as being the founder of Music Theory Foundations. She has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.

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