B flat minor scale : piano scales
This scale is the relative minor of D flat major, and like it has five flats. Explain this scale to the pupil.
Bb minor is based on B flat, consisting of the pitches Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab and Bb (natural minor scale). Its key signature consists of five flats. The harmonic minor scale has a leading tone; in this case, the A is natural.
A short and easy way to remember this key signature is with the mnemonic “BEAD = bead add a G B E A D G”. A mnemonic to help remember the order of sharps is “Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle”; in reverse, the same mnemonic describes the order of flats.
Its relative key is D flat major, and its parallel major is B flat major. Its enharmonic equivalent is A sharp minor.
Changes needed for the melodic and harmonic versions of this scale are written in with accidentals as necessary.
In the German language, the pitch Bb is called B, so Bb minor is called B moll.
B flat minor music mood and examples
Bb minor is usually associated with sadness and loneliness. Some of the best oboe solos are written in this key. One example is the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony N. 4, which depicts “the feeling that you get when you are all alone”, in Tchaikovsky’s words. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is written in this key, but the famous opening theme is in the relative major, Db major.
One of the few symphonies written in this key is Shostakovich’s Symphony Number 13, “Babi Yar”. Other examples include Sir William Walton’s Symphony No. 1 and Richard Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie.
Domenico Scarlatti wrote just two keyboard sonatas in B flat minor: this is the flattest key he ever used for a sonata. Other well-known pieces in this key are Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 (Funeral March) and Christian Sinding’s Rustle of Spring.