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The Harmonic Minor Scale…An Improvising Tool

The harmonic minor scale will add a new dimension to to your leads and riffs. This scale has a very unique sound to it making it easy to recognize.

There are several ways to use this scale. The first is that it can be used for all the chords in the scale itself. Down below.

All examples use only the scale notes, no passing tones or bends so you can hear the actual scale.

After you learn it you can do anything you want to it. Use slides, bends, pre-bends, distortion, echo or anything else.

You can Al Demeola use this scale in a lot of his songs. The minor 3rd interval is what gives it a unique sound.

Harmonic Minor Chord Types


All of the above chords can be reduced to triads. The only fifference between this scale and the natural minor is a G♯ which gives us these not so common chords.

Most of the time these uncommon chords are used as passing chords lasting one or two beats of a measure.

Here is what it sounds like played against an Am Chord

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The A minor harmonic played against an A minor chord

This scale is easy to recognize in songs

Another Improvising Method

The next way is to start on the 4th note of dominant chords with a sharp 5th or a flatted 9th

I am playing the A minor harmonic scale over an E7♯5 chord using only scale notes.

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The A minor harmonic played over an E 7th sharp 5 chord

Playing the A note against the E gives a suspended sound which you can resolve to G♯ or go anywhere else you want as long as it sounds good to you.

A Minor Harmonic Scale

Harmonic Minor Scale List

The keys are the harmonic minor scale and not the relative major. To find the relative major go up a minor third or 3 frets.

The E♭ and D♯ are the same scale just spelled different. This is where I switched to the sharp minor keys

F♯

F♯

G♯

A

B

C♯

D

E♯

This one is 1-2-♭3-4-5-♭6-♭7

Fairly easy to remember from the major scale. Three and six are flat.

Another way is to raise the 7th of the natural minor scale ½ tone or one fret.