Aug 03 2015

Harmonic Minor Scale

By: Frank Macri

Posted in: Guitar Scales


The harmonic minor scale is an exotic sounding scale. It has a character that is interpreted by many as a classical or neoclassical sound. The harmonic minor consists of a natural minor scale with a raised seventh degree. Doing this creates a leading tone to the scale, which gives a very strong pull from the last note of the scale back to the tonic.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G    Natural Minor Scale

1   2   b3  4   5  b6  b7

A   B   C   D   E   F   G#   Harmonic Minor Scale

1   2   b3  4    5  b6   7

The harmonic minor scale is broken down into 5 positions that will cover the entire fretboard. We will be learning  the harmonic minor scale positions in A. Position 1 starts on the root note A.  (root note highlighted in red)

Position 2 starts on the second degree (2) of the scale “B

Position 3 starts on the 4th degree (4) of the scale “D

Position 4 starts on the 5th degree (5) of the scale “E

Position 5 starts on the raised 7th degree (7) of the scale “G#“

Now that we’ve learned the five harmonic minor scale positions, lets look at some examples of typical harmonic minor chord progressions. Notice that the progressions use chords from the  A natural minor scale, except the V7 chord, E7, which comes from the harmonic minor scale. The first is a simple harmonic minor progression:

|  Am   |   %   |   E7   |   %   |

The next harmonic minor progression is based off of Steve Miller’s 1982 hit song “Abracadabra“.

|   Am   |   Dm   |   E7   |   Am   |

Santana’s 1999 number one hit song “Smooth” is based on this harmonic minor chord progression.

|   Am   |   F   E7   |   Am   |   F   E7   |

Walk, Don’t Run” is an instrumental composition written and recorded by The Ventures. Check out the progression based off of this song.

|   Am   G   |   F   E7   |   Am   G   |   F   E7   |

The final harmonic minor chord progression is similar to Gary Moore’s “Still Got The Blues“.

|   Am   |   Dm   |   G   |   C   |   F   |   Bmi7b5   |   E7   |   E7   |


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