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Andrew Cockburn
Exotic Scales - Harmonic Minor


The Harmonic minor scale is a variation of the minor scale in which the 7th degree is sharpened compared to the natural minor (which make is a major 7th instead of a flattened 7th). This makes the interval between the 6th and 7th notes of the scale an augmented second. The Harmonic minor scale was originally conceived to produce a minor scale that preserved the leading tone of the major scale, which has an important harmonic function but is not present in the natural minor(Aeolian) scale. For more information see my lesson on Minor Scales Revisited.

The resulting scale sounds a little odd and exotic, since the introduction of the major 7th leaves a 3 semitone gap which is a little unusual in western music. In contemporary music, this scale is beloved of neoclassical guitarists and is an important weapon in any one's arsenal. It is a very defined sound and can be overused, but used sparingly it can lend a very exotic feel to an otherwise normal piece.

Number of tones : 7

Intervals : 2-1-2-2-1-3-1

Formula : 1,2,b3,4,5,b6,7

Characteristic Chords : MinorMajor 7, Minor b6

Click to view attachment
The Uncreator
Great lesson Andrew, keep up the good work.
Eat-Sleep-andJam
Nice Lesson! You said something about how it can be
QUOTE
overused
what do you exactly mean by that ? Any tips to not overuse it ?

-John
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (Eat-Sleep-andJam @ Nov 4 2007, 06:42 PM) *
Nice Lesson! You said something about how it can be what do you exactly mean by that ? Any tips to not overuse it ?

-John


Yes ... play it less often wink.gif

What I meant was that it gets used a lot in neo classical and has almost become a signature sound since it is so very distinctive. My suggestion was rather than base a whole song around it, bring it in occasionally for a change here and there to mix things up a little.
Muris Varajic
QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Nov 5 2007, 12:44 AM) *
Yes ... play it less often wink.gif

What I meant was that it gets used a lot in neo classical and has almost become a signature sound since it is so very distinctive. My suggestion was rather than base a whole song around it, bring it in occasionally for a change here and there to mix things up a little.


Tell that to Y.J.M Andrew laugh.gif
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (muris @ Nov 4 2007, 06:46 PM) *
Tell that to Y.J.M Andrew laugh.gif


I don't think he'd pay any attention Muris smile.gif
The Uncreator
It does get overused, i agree, if used scarcely it becomes a true original sounding part of the song.

Look at it this way, if Diamonds werent rare, would they be worth anything? No, they wouldnt, so id you make the Harmonic Minor scale "rare" in your playing, it will be a "diamond" when you play it smile.gif

Make any sense?
Muris Varajic
QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Nov 5 2007, 12:56 AM) *
I don't think he'd pay any attention Muris smile.gif


100 % correct biggrin.gif

Must tell you this,bit of topic.
Friend of mine is making album,John West did vocal parts for it.
And John West also sang on Alchemy album ,Y.J.M.
And this is small anegdote about Yngwie,true one as well. biggrin.gif
When they were recording album,Yngwie asked John to have a drink with him at Hard Rock Cafe,
not sure was it in Miami or L.A,never mind.
They went into Cafe and Yngwie pointed at the Strat hanging on the wall
"See this Strat?..That's my Strat"
And John,guy with fine manners responded with..."Really?? Cooool!! smile.gif "
But God had a final word.."But I can't see your stuff hanging here??" laugh.gif laugh.gif
Eat-Sleep-andJam
QUOTE (muris @ Nov 4 2007, 04:06 PM) *
100 % correct biggrin.gif

Must tell you this,bit of topic.
Friend of mine is making album,John West did vocal parts for it.
And John West also sang on Alchemy album ,Y.J.M.
And this is small anegdote about Yngwie,true one as well. biggrin.gif
When they were recording album,Yngwie asked John to have a drink with him at Hard Rock Cafe,
not sure was it in Miami or L.A,never mind.
They went into Cafe and Yngwie pointed at the Strat hanging on the wall
"See this Strat?..That's my Strat"
And John,guy with fine manners responded with..."Really?? Cooool!! smile.gif "
But God had a final word.."But I can't see your stuff hanging here??" laugh.gif laugh.gif



laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif - To bad it was really Marcus's HomeMade Strat , the irony tongue.gif
LwShieN
Awesome theory lesson , a question about harmonic minor scale and help would be appreciated,

You say suitable chords would be chords like Minor7 and major 7 etc? ..

If lets say you were to play a harmonic Minor Scale to a normal chord like C Major an example using an A Harmonic Minor would it fit and would it still sound exotic or would the raise 7 clash with it?..

Thanks
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (LwShieN @ Nov 28 2007, 06:15 AM) *
Awesome theory lesson , a question about harmonic minor scale and help would be appreciated,

You say suitable chords would be chords like Minor7 and major 7 etc? ..

If lets say you were to play a harmonic Minor Scale to a normal chord like C Major an example using an A Harmonic Minor would it fit and would it still sound exotic or would the raise 7 clash with it?..

Thanks


That depends on the degree of the scale that the chord is taken from. Some will work, others might not - check out my lesson on chords for scales for more details.

For instance:

A hormonic minor is:

A B C D E F G# A

If you started on the root note of A for the scale, you could make the chord of A minor out of those notes (A C E). If you wanted to add a 7th, it would have to be a minor major 7th because of the G#.

if you started on the note of D for the same scale, you would make a chord of D minor (D F A) and adding a 7th would get you D minor 7 (adding a C),

The D minor 7 would be the same in a regular minor scale as it doesn't require use of that altered 7th note of the scale. The A minor major 7 would normally be a minor 7 in a regular minor scale.
LwShieN
Thanks for your help Andrew, i see what you mean , depends on the chords and the triads involve ...

That helps ...Now i must learn when to apply it laugh.gif not as simple as i thought ..

Cheers for the help wink.gif
shredmandan
Maybe its overused but thats just because it sounds sooooooo good smile.gif
Khaos Keith
QUOTE (shredmandan @ Nov 28 2007, 11:32 AM) *
Maybe its overused but thats just because it sounds sooooooo good smile.gif


wait why arient more boxes for this scale being shown? is this cause this are advanced scales and by now we should have to write them out ourselves sad.gif
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (Khaos Keith @ Dec 20 2007, 09:19 AM) *
wait why arient more boxes for this scale being shown? is this cause this are advanced scales and by now we should have to write them out ourselves sad.gif


Yeah - that's the idea - you can choose boxes, 3 notes per string or any other method thaty suits you smile.gif

If you have trouble working it out yourself there are many tools in the web that will help you. My favorite is this one.
Chris Evans
QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Dec 21 2007, 12:58 PM) *
If you have trouble working it out yourself there are many tools in the web that will help you. My favorite is this one.


wow!! just checked that site out, thats a really excellent tool, thanks smile.gif
berko
Hi there!

Awesome theory board btw, and is just wanted to ask if someone could list me the names of the 6 other modes of the harmonic minor. So we have the harmonic minor, or, for instance starting from the fifth degree we get phrygian dominant and so on (well, that leaves only 5 more to name). I would like to know the English names of these, and possibly the most common one for each mode.

If anyone could help, i'm gonna say a HUGE thanks smile.gif wink.gif

cheers
DeepRoots
Here they are in order:

Harmonic minor
Locrian Natural 6
Harmonic Major/ Ionian #5
Dorian #4
Phrygian-Dominant
Lydian #2
Diminished
berko
And that's a HUGE thanks to DeepRoots smile.gif smile.gif
Andrew Cockburn
QUOTE (berko @ Oct 7 2008, 07:40 AM) *
And that's a HUGE thanks to DeepRoots smile.gif smile.gif


And thanks from me too smile.gif
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