Harmonic Minor Scales For Guitar - Mode 1
The Professor
Sep 1 2013, 11:58 AM
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Harmonic Minor For Guitar - Mode 1

In today’s lesson, the first in a series on the Harmonic Minor Modes, we’ll be looking at the different sounds produced by the first mode of the Harmonic Minor Scale.

Used to solo over minor chords, the Harmonic Minor Scale and Arpeggio, mMaj7, bring a strong sense of tension to your riffs and lines as it contains the #7 interval over a minor chord.

In this lesson, we’ll be exploring various shapes for the scale, arpeggio and chord derived from the first mode of Harmonic Minor, as well as improv exercises that you can use to solo with this scale/arpeggio over minor chords in different musical situations.

Harmonic Minor Mode 1 One Octave Scales

To begin, we will explore four different one-octave Harmonic Minor Scale shapes so that you can bring these sounds to your practicing and soloing ideas.

The Harmonic Minor Scale is build with the following intervals:

R 2 b3 4 5 b6 #7 R

Or, in the key of A would be:

A B C D E F G# A

Start by working the first shape in all 12 keys across the fretboard, before learning the next 3 shapes.

Once you can play all four shapes from memory, try playing them all back to back in one key, so the 6th, 5th, 4th and 3rd -string root shapes back to back in the key of D HM for example.

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Harmonic Minor Mode 1 Two Octave Scales

You can also play two-octave versions of the Harmonic Minor Scale, and here are two fingerings for those scales to check out in the practice room alongside the one-octave shapes presented above.

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Harmonic Minor Mode 1 Arpeggios

When breaking up the first mode of the Harmonic Minor scale into an arpeggio, by playing the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the scale in order, you produce a mMaj7 sound over any minor chord you apply it to.

The mMaj7 arpeggio, as seen below, brings a bit of tension to your minor chord soloing ideas as the #7 interval, G# in this example, is a semi-tone away from the root of the chord you are playing over.

Here are two shapes for the AmMaj7 arpeggio that you can practice and apply to your Am chord soloing ideas to bring the Harmonic Minor Mode 1 sound to your riffs and phrases.

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Harmonic Minor Mode 1 Chords

You can also play all of the mMaj7 arpeggio notes together to form the mMaj7 chord, as you can see in the example below.

Mostly used in jazz and fusion, this chord is a bit tense for most rock and pop songs, but it’s worth exploring in the practice room to see if you can come up with various musical situations to apply this cool-sounding chord.

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Harmonic Minor Mode 1 Soloing Exercises

To get started with applying the first mode of Harmonic Minor to your soloing, here is a backing track that you can use in the practice room.

Start by soloing over the track using only 1 one-octave shape, until you’ve covered all four, then start to mix and match them all together.

From there, you can solo over the backing track with the two-octave shapes, and finally the mMaj7 arpeggio.

The chord progression for the backing track is, 4-bars per chord:


Attached File  Minor_Backing_Track.mp3 ( 4.58MB ) Number of downloads: 821

Do you have a question about the first mode of the Harmonic Minor Scale? Share your thoughts in the thread below.

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