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Guitar Lesson 5

The Harmonic Minor Scale

 

Having understood that the Major scale can be built from any root note by following the whole step/half step interval pattern, we can now look at how these intervals can be changed to give the harmonic minor scale.

Figure 1 below shows the interval patterns for the Major and Minor scales. By flattening the 3rd and 6th note of the Major scale you create the Minor scale in the key of the starting note – easy!

Figure 1: Forming the harmonic Minor

If we take the D as the starting note and work out the notes in the Major scale: 

D       E       F#     G       A       B       C#     D

We can now work out D Minor by flattening the 3rd and 6th notes:

D       E       F       G       A       A#     C#     D

So, we can now take any starting note and work out the Major, and then the Harmonic Minor scale in that Key by following the pattern in Figure 1

Lets have a look at how the Major and Minor scales can fit across the fretboard in the key of A

Figure 2: A Major

Now we flatten the 3rd note – C# to a C, and the 6th note – F# to an F to get the A Harmonic Minor (figure 3). The notes have been continued across 2 octaves – have a look at where else you could play this scale.

 

 

Figure 3: A Harmonic Minor-  (flattened notes shown in blue)

Figure 4: A Harmonic Minor in Tab form

 

Learning to use the interval formulas in each key is a great way to understand where each note on the fretboard lies and how different notes relate to each other. You should begin to see the importance of semitone position in giving the feel of a scale. It is only a matter of changing a few semi-tones in a scale (down one fret) to create a Minor from a Major scale. If you can master the Harmonic Minor scale then you will be able to improvise and play nifty solos – all you have to do is work out what key a song is in!

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