Harmonic Minor Scale 5 Patterns: Best Guitar Scales To Learn
Learn the five box position scale shapes that'll help you build strength, play solos & improvise better on guitar
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What Is The Harmonic Minor Scale on Guitar?
The harmonic minor scale is a 7 note scale derived from the natural minor scale. The only difference between the natural minor scale and harmonic minor scale is the 7th scale note of the harmonic minor is raised by one semitone (half-step).
The harmonic minor scale has a distinctive haunting sound with a spicy Middle-eastern seasoning, thanks to its unique interval structure.
For that reason, it is used in styles such as jazz, Neoclassical, folk, metal, Jewish and Flamenco music. The harmonic minor scale can be used to add spice and interest to your guitar solos and songwriting.
Just like all other musical scales, we use both a scale degree formula and semitone and tone interval formula (half and whole steps) that defines the harmonic minor scale (and thus determines how it sounds):
Harmonic minor scale formula:
1 – 2 – b3 – 4 – 5 – b6 – 7
Harmonic minor interval formula where T = tone and S = Semitone:
T – S – T – T – S – T½ – S
Here’s the formula shown in whole and half steps:
W – H – W – W – H – W½ – H
Pro Tip: The harmonic minor scale is simply the natural minor scale with a raised 7th note degree. Or put another way, the major scale with a flat 3rd (b3) and flat 6th (b6).
What Chords Fit Under The Harmonic Minor Scale?
The harmonic minor scale sounds at home played over the chords its intervals, and other similar minor scales create. This is why some chord progressions that seem like they are derived from the natural minor scale have a V7 (dominant 7th). The dom7th is borrowed from the harmonic minor scale.
Play the harmonic minor scale over chords including minor, major, dominant 7th, augmented, minMajor7th and a few other altered chord extensions. Have a look at the table below where the harmonic minor chords are compared to the natural minor scale chords:
Useful To Know: The second to last interval distance of a tone and a half is also referred to as either an augmented 2nd, or minor 3rd.
Now you know the scale formula for the harmonic minor scale, you can construct and play it in any key you desire on the guitar neck.
But we don't want to leave you hanging on any longer. Here are are 5 CAGED form scale patterns for the harmonic minor scale.
Our example key is G, and the G root note is highlighted in aqua blue in the fretboard diagrams below. The flat 7th altered scale degree is highlighted in orange which makes it stand out as being the only difference to the natural minor scale.
Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #1 - (D Chord Form)
Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #2 - (C Chord Form)
Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #3 - (A Chord Form)
Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #4 - (G Chord Form)
Harmonic Minor Scale Pattern #5 - (E Chord Form)
Essential Jazz Guitar Chords Chart Poster
Featuring 65 of the most used common jazz (blues, funk and country too) chord shape voicings & extensions + bonus Guitar Fretboard Notes Chart
Downloadable music prints that make your time learning guitar easier...
Jazz Guitar chord shapes include:
- Major seventh (Maj 7th)
- Minor Seventh
- Diminished - Half Diminished
- Dominant seventh
- Major 9th / minor 9th / dom 9th
- Maj11th / minor 11th / dom 11th
- Maj13th / minor 13th / dom 13th