Music Theory

Learning about the B Minor Piano Scale

By Hoffman Academy Team
B Minor Piano Scale

Learn how to play the B minor piano scale! Explore notes, chords, finger positions, similar minor scales, and some fun songs in B minor.

To learn more about all kinds of piano scales, check out our All Piano Scales Guide: Major, Minor & More!

Meet the B Natural Minor Scale

The B minor scale starts on B. Its relative major scale is D Major, which means it will have the same key signature as D Major, with F-sharp and C-sharp marked on the staff.

B minor key signature

As with all minor keys, B minor has a relative major key that starts a minor third–or three half steps–higher on the keyboard. To find the relative major any minor key, start on the first note of the minor scale and go up three half steps. In B minor, that’s B up to D. For another example, A minor is the relative of C major. Start on A and go up three half steps to C.

B minor piano scale

So if the key signature for B minor and D Major are exactly the same, how do you know if the song is in B minor or in D Major? One quick trick is to look at the very lowest note the song ends on. If this note is a B instead of a D, you’re probably in the B minor scale.

Chopin Prelude in B minor last three measures.

A song in the key of B minor will also have a “minor” sound. If you listen to the song, you’ll hear minor chords and an emphasis on the important tones of the B minor scale, which are B (the tonic), F-sharp (the fifth), E (the fourth), and D (the minor third).

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What does it mean when a song is in the key of B minor?

A song that is based on the notes of the B minor scale is said to be in the key of B minor.  In classical music, B minor was considered to be a key that gave a song a feeling of deep and thoughtful sadness. The B minor scale could also convey patient expectation and hope. This was in contrast with its relative key, D Major, which was considered to be one of the most joyful keys.

What are the notes of the B minor piano scale?

The B minor scale is a musical scale that starts on B and has two sharp sin its key signature.  As with all minor scales, there are three different versions of the B minor scale.  First we have B natural minor, with has only the two sharps provided by the key signature: F-sharp and C-sharp. The notes are B, C-sharp, D, E, F-sharp, G, and A.

Notes of the B natural minor piano scale

Then we have the B harmonic minor scale. For this, raise the seventh note, A, a half step to A-sharp. The notes are B, C-sharp, D, E, F-sharp, G, and A-sharp.

B harmonic minor scale piano

Finally, there’s B melodic minor. Keep that A-sharp from harmonic minor, but also raise the 6th note, G, to G-sharp.  Melodic minor is the only version of a minor scale that’s different going up from going down.  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.

B minor melodic scale

How to play the B minor scale on piano

To play the B minor scale on the piano as a Pentascale (using only the bottom five notes of the scale), your hands don’t have to move at all.

B minor Pentascale for the Right Hand:

1 on B
2 on C sharp
3 on D
4 on E
5 on F sharp

B minor Pentascale for the Left Hand:

5 on B
4 on C-sharp
3 on D
2 on E
1 on F-sharp

One-octave B Minor piano scale:

When playing the full one-octave B minor scale, the fingering will be a little different than most scales you’ve probably learned. You want to avoid playing any black keys with your thumb, so in your left hand you’ll actually start with finger number four, and then cross that same finger over on your way up.

Right hand fingering for the one-octave B minor scale:

1 on B
2 on C-sharp
3 on D
Cross thumb under to E
2 on F-sharp
3 on G (G-sharp for melodic minor when going up)
4 on A (A-sharp for harmonic minor and melodic minor when going up)
5 on B

B natural minor right hand fingering

Left hand fingering for the one-octave B minor scale:

4 on B
3 on C-sharp
2 on D
1 on E
Cross 4 over to F-sharp
3 on G (G-sharp for melodic minor when going up)
2 on A (A-sharp for harmonic minor and melodic minor going up)
1 on B

B natural minor left hand fingering

To play the B natural minor scale, G and A should not be sharp. In the melodic minor scale, play G sharp and A sharp when going up, then G and A natural when going down.

Want to watch and learn how to play a two octave B minor piano scale, along with B minor arpeggios and chords? Check out this lesson from Mr. Hoffman.

What are the chords in the key of B minor?

Music written in the key of B minor will usually focus on the three most important chords of this scale: the i chord, which is built on B, the iv chord, built on E, and the V chord, built on F sharp.

i chord: B minor triad, B – D – F sharp

iv chord: E minor triad, E – G – B

V chord: F-sharp Major triad, F sharp – A sharp (using harmonic minor) – C sharp

common chords in B minor

Notice that the Roman numerals for minor chords are written in lower case. 

There are also three major chords in the key of B minor. They are the III chord, the VI chord, and the VII chord.

III chord: D Major triad, D – F sharp – A

VI chord: G-sharp minor triad, G – B – D

VII chord: A major triad, A (using natural mnor) – C sharp – E

More chords for B minor

Take a look at the III, VI, and VII chords in B minor. Do you recognize them? They’re the I, IV, and V chords in the key of D Major, the relative major key of B minor!

Finally, in the key of B minor, there’s one diminished chord, and it’s the ii chord, which starts on C sharp.

ii chord: C-sharp diminished triad, C sharp – E – G

B minor ii chord

Examples of songs in B minor

Some famous classical pieces in B minor include Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Schubert’s “Unfinished” symphony, Mozart’s Adagio in B minor, and even Wagner’s exciting Ride of the Valkyries.

Popular songs in B minor include “Hotel California” recorded by The Eagles, “When You Believe” from Prince of Egypt, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Alexander Hamilton” from Hamilton.

Curious about more songs in in this key? If you’d like to learn a song in B minor on the piano, Mr. Hoffman has a series of lessons on Dimitri Shostakovich’s “The Mechanical Doll.” Give it a try!

We hope you’ve had fun exploring the B minor piano scale! To learn more about minor scales and how to play them, check out Hoffman Academy’s Minor Scales Guide.


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