How To Find The Harmonic Minor Scale
In this lesson, we are going to learn how to find and the Harmonic Minor Scale. This is a minor scale that is a bit different from the natural minor scale. It only incorporates flattening the 3rd & 6th notes of the major scale it is derived from.
The minor scale
This minor scale is the counterpart to the major scale. All major scales will have a minor scale counterpart. A major will have an A minor scale. C major will have C minor. This minor scale is created by flattening the 3rd, 6th, & 7th notes of the major scale.
A major: A B C# D E F# G# A. A minor: A B C D E F G A. As you can see, we have flattened the three notes mentioned above to create the A minor scale.
The harmonic minor scale
To create the harmonic minor scale, you just need to flatten two of the three notes. The 3rd & 6th notes. This will create a different type of sound to the scale.
A minor: A B C D E F G A. A harmonic minor: A B C D E F G# A. In this scale we leave the 7th note as it is. A G# note. Now we have a minor scale in A that only has one sharp. And it is by flattening the 3rd & 6th notes that give the harmonic minor scale its character.
Study & practice
This concept of creating the harmonic minor scale works with any scale in any key. But to be able to fully understand how it works and sounds in practical application, you need to study & practice.
I recommend you get out a sheet of paper and write out the notes on different scales like I have done in this guitar lesson and see it for yourself. Then apply it to the guitar fretboard. It will really open your eyes and ears with what can be done with this information.
Learn your notes
To get the most out of guitar theory you must learn your notes. If you play by ear that’s ok. But learning about the notes along the fretboard will really help you to understand why things work the way they do.
Not only with scales but also when it comes to building chords. Chords and scales work in harmony with each other and that’s how the music sounds appealing to the ear. It’s only when you play notes that don’t fit together that you have musical issues.
Now if you choose to just play by ear that’s fine. Put in enough time and you’ll eventually find the notes that fit together and then you just have to remember where they are. But you won’t fully understand why they work, you’ll just know they do. I highly recommend you learn your notes.
Chords that come out of scales
As I mentioned, chords and scales work in harmony together. So by knowing this we can create chords out of scales and scales out of chords. Let’s look at this in further detail.
Key of A major: A B C# D E F# G# A
Now if you know your triads, you can see that we can create an A major triad out of this scale. A major triad consists of the 1 3 5 of the scale. That would be the A C# E notes. Given each note represent a number from 1-8. We can also create an Am6 chord. This would be the 1 3 5 6 of the scale. These notes would be the A C# E & F# notes played together.
We could also create an Asus2 chord. The 1 2 5 of the scale. The notes would be the A B & E. An Asus4 could also be created. The 1 4 5 of the scale. The notes would be A D & E. We could also create an Asus4add7 chord. That would be the same as the sus4 except you add the G# note.
Can you see how this works? By knowing this we could create chords that go well with this scale. And since the notes all come out of the key, the major scale would sound good over the top of them.
Watch the video lesson below
To learn more about scales and how they can be applied when playing guitar solos, I recommend you check out the book Lead Guitar Wizardry vol 2. This book is an expansion of volume 1 and goes into further detail about how to use scales to play guitar solos. You’ll learn such things as:
Pentatonic scale guitar licks
All 7 major modes
Mode scale formulas
Natural minor scale
Harmonic minor scale
Melodic minor scale
Diminished minor scale
and much, much more. This book will thoroughly show all that’s need to take your lead guitar playing to the next level. And with enough study & practice, you’ll become a guitar wizard. But of course, that’s only with enough study & practice.
When it comes to the harmonic minor scale, it can be created in any key. You just need to learn what notes are in the major scale (or natural minor scale) and flatten the 3rd and sith notes.
By doing so, you will increase your knowledge of the music theory and the guitar fretboard. That is provided, you learn your notes. Knowing your notes will help you not only in creating different guitar scales, but it will also help you in guitar chord construction.
Best of luck, and if you fell guitar lessons can help, be sure to contact me as I offer both in-person and online lessons.
Keep practicing and take care.