Harmonic Minor Scales in Detail
The Harmonic Minor Scale is commonly used in Baroque, Classical, Middle Eastern Music and in some instances in hard rock music ("One" by Metallica and Slash's solo in "Sweet Child o' Mine" leap to mind as examples of solos using the harmonic minor). Although I don't use the scale a great deal in composition I do enjoy playing modes of the harmonic minor in Jazz and Latin Guitar Improvisations. It has some very specialised uses and it is helpful to make sure that you are familiar with the Natural Minor scale before you attempt to master this one.
The Structure and Sound of the Harmonic Minor Scale
The Harmonic Minor is based in the same way as the Natural Minor but differs in that it has a raised 7th note. It could also be remembered as a Major Scale with a flattened 3rd and 6th.
Notice that in the Harmonic Minor there are three intervals of a semi tone, between the 2nd and 3rd and the 5th and 6th notes (as there are in the Natural Minor) and then also between the 7th and 8th.
Chord Chart for the Harmonic Minor
The Chord Chart for the Harmonic Minor Goes as follows:
Below is a chord chart for some commonly used triad and extended (four voice) chords in the key of A Minor. Chords using the Harmonic minor will often be mixed up with chords using the other minor scales. It is common then to see that the 5th chord of the scale is taken only from the Harmonic Minor and is a Dominant 7.
Useful Positions for Playing the Harmonic Minor
The above chord diagrams all display common positions for the Harmonic Minor scale. I have kept them all in the key of A Harmonic Minor so that you can start from the open position and work up the neck of the guitar. In all of these chord charts note that the red note symbols denote all of the root notes and that in the open position the O symbolises that the open string that must be played.
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