*Scales: Harmonic Minor Scales

Harmonic minor scales are similar to the natural minor scale, however, because of a raised 7th, the harmonic minor scale has a more definitive end. The seventh note of the harmonic minor scale is a minor second step away from the root and consequently, desperately wants to return to that root.

The scale goes like this.

The harmonic minor scale is very similar to the natural minor scale, but as you can see, the harmonic minor scale has a raised seventh. Instead of playing G, as you would do in the natural minor scale, you play a G sharp. The raised seventh causes the harmonic minor scale to sound faintly eastern. In fact, the harmonic minor scale is similar to the Arabian scales.

The harmonic minor scale is unique when compared to other common scales because it has a minor third step, while most other scales only contain minor and major second steps. The minor third step occurs between the sixth and the seventh note. Above it’s between the F and the G sharp.

Try playing the above harmonic minor scale and notice the difference in sound between it and the natural minor scale, notice the seventh tone, and how it is begging to continue to the A. Try playing the scale and stopping on the seventh note to hear the tension.

As before, the harmonic minor scale can begin on any note, for example, if we were to begin on the key of C, then the scale would like this.

harmonic minor scales

The same steps are utilized in the key of C as in the key of A. The only difference is the starting note, but in order to keep the same pattern or steps, the rest of the notes are also changed.

Songs based on the harmonic minor scales usually play only the notes in that scale. For example, if we were composing a song based in the key of A harmonic minor, then we could use the following notes: A, B, C, D, E, F, G sharp.

However, if you combine the natural minor and the harmonic minor scales you gleam an additional note to play with. Combining the two yields the following notes: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, G sharp. New Possibilities! And if you combine the harmonic minor scales with the melodic minor scales, you can use another note.

This is the reason I like to compose in minor keys.