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December Music Blog

The Harmonic Minor Scale

In music theory the term minor scale refers to three scale patterns – The natural minor scale, the harmonic minor scale, and the melodic minor scale.

This blog will be discussing the harmonic minor scale. The harmonic minor scale has the same notes as the natural minor scale accept the seventh scale degree is raised one half step. A harmonic minor scale is represented by the following notation:1, 2, ♭3, 4, 5, ♭6, 7, 8 or whole, half, whole, whole, half, augmented second, half.

The scale is called the harmonic minor scale because it is a common foundation for harmonies (chords) in minor keys. For example, in the key of A minor the v chord is a  E minor triad in the natural minor scale. In the harmonic minor scale the E triad becomes major. (E, G#, B) This simple change creates a new and unique sound.

While it evolved primarily as a basis for chords, the harmonic minor scale with its augmented second can be used melodically. The harmonic minor scale is also occasionally referred to as the Mohammedan scale and in Indian raga, it is called Kirwani. 

Who Use It

The harmonic minor scale can be heard in harmony and melodically in classical music. It is widely used in jazz music for improvisation. You can hear this scale used in heaven metal, rock and pop. There is a strong influence in Spanish music incorporating this scale as well. This scale also created a sub-genre know as neoclassical metal.

Regardless if you play guitar, piano, saxophone, clarinet flute, or violin the harmonic minor scale  is a must know for all musicians. 

Please feel free to contact us to come in for a music lesson to learn all about the harmonic minor scale and anything else pertaining to music from one of our great instructor at the Colorado School of Music in Golden CO. 

Thanks for reading!

Dean Cutinelli

music blog

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