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Hidden Brilliance of Minor Scales in Western Classical Music

Western Classical Music is well-equipped with so many scales and versatility of the notes. However, the broader classification of the scales boils down to major and minor scales. With the presence of natural notes, and ease of hearing, major scale compositions are widely appreciated by the musical connoisseurs along with normal listeners.

Major scale is also signified towards a cheerful and a happy emotion and termed as brighter scales for the listening and even performing. On the contrary, minor scales are attributed to dark feelings, deep emotions and some extent of inquisitiveness. The minor scales are often used for compositions that show up estrangement, anger or any of that sort of deeper aspects.

As a result, the minor scale compositions including the ones from older era are somehow looked less often with admiration compared to the major scale compositions. 

But the beauty of minor scales is that- the notes evoke a deeper and multi layered emotion compared to the major scale compositions. Take the famous composition Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart. Though the composition starts in major scale with a kickoff, the real beauty comes in when the minor scale portion comes in. Many composers use this beautiful trick to take the listeners through a multitude of emotions by bringing in the best of the both worlds.

However, the pure minor scale classics such as the famous Unfinished Symphony no.7 by Franz Schubert is an ultimate masterpiece and a text book composition for all those who would want to understand the brilliance of minor scales. Interestingly, much of film soundtrack composing and mainstream pop music is also realizing the hidden aspects of minor scales and the tremendous scope of it to be explored in western classical music.

When complete minor scales are one aspect to be addressed, there are ample combinations of them that are too good to be true. The pentatonic minor blues scale has become the backbone for genres such as Jazz and Blues.  This one golden scale has given us some mesmerizing compositions to cherish- without realizing they are based on pure minor notes. Yesteryear legends such as Frank Sinatra, to the King of Pop Michael Jackson and even the recent sensation Ed Sheeran have discovered the beauty of minor scale songs. 

One such immediate Jazz number which we can never forget is ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ based on the pentatonic minor scale.  The song is a great example of how a minor scale can be greatly used in a romantic perspective – and has a tinge of bubbliness to it. It disputes the popular belief that minor scales are more suitable for melancholic compositions. 

The recent magical number of Disney’s Alladdin – Speechless is also a classy minor scale composition. Though it has an element of pain in it, the song speaks of aggression, resilience and lot of hope and positivity for a brighter days ahead.

So, take some time out for these lovely compositions in minor scales and go on a never before taken path- off the beaten track! 

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