Aug 19, 2008

The Harmonic Minor Scale

For years there have been guitarists with the deadliest of sounds. The kind of guitar players who can rip off leads that will make your spine tingle. I'm not just talking about fast riffs. I'm talking about those infamous axe-monsters who can make blood squirt from your grandma's ears just by playing a few, well chosen notes.

Sorry about all of the dramatic text, but this is a scale that requires that I talk about it in a fashion of Jack Black-ism.

The Harmonic Minor scale is heavily favored by Yngwie Malmsteen and the likes of frenetic master minds like Alex Skolnick (who used every mode known to man in his days with Testament) and Jason Becker. Not to mention the ever-missed, Dimebag Darrell.

Its structure is extremely classical, but slap a little distortion on there, and you can make nuns cry.

Watch this video and then consult the information below it, to see how we are actually going to construct the harmonic minor scale.

The first thing that I should explain to you, is that it is almost identical to the Natural Minor Scale. I could link you to the article about the Natural Minor scale, where I explain its construction, but for purposes of simplicity, here it is.

Click To Enlarge

Q: What's the difference?
A: One note!

The 7th note in the Natural Minor scale is flatted.

That formula is 1,2,3b,4,5,6b,7b

The formula for the Harmonic Minor scale is 1,2,3b,4,5,6b,7.

Look at those two formulas together. They are almost identical except for the last note. So you can build the Harmonic Minor scale from the Natural Minor scale, but I also want to show you how the Harmonic Minor scale relates to the Major scale.

The Major scale is very simple in the sense that it does not contain any sharps or flats. It is simply 1,2,3,4,5,6,7.

If you flat the 3rd and 6th notes you produce the Harmonic Minor scale. Check out the image below to see the comparison.

Click To Enlarge

Now I don't want to leave you with too much to ponder over, but I wrote and recorded a song called Rasputin that is in the My Music section of this blog, and the main riff is out of C Harmonic Minor. If you are interested, check that out so that you can see how it might be used.

Guitar Goodies:::: Guitar Sites ::::Site Map:::: Privacy