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GMC Forum _ THEORY _ Harmonic Minor Scales For Guitar - Mode 2

Posted by: The Professor Sep 4 2013, 12:57 PM

Harmonic Minor For Guitar - Mode 2

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

Used to solo over m7b5 chords, the Harmonic Minor 2nd Mode and Arpeggio bring a strong sense of tension to your riffs and lines as it contains the #6 interval over a m7b5 chord.

In this lesson, we’ll be exploring various shapes for the scale, arpeggio and chord derived from the second 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 2 One Octave Scales

To begin, we will explore four different one-octave Harmonic Minor 2nd Mode shapes so that you can bring these sounds to your practicing and soloing ideas.

The Harmonic Minor 2nd Mode is built with the following intervals:

R b2 b3 4 b5 6 b7 R

Or, in the key of B would be:

B C D E F G# A B

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 over Dm7b5 for example.

Harmonic Minor Mode 2 Two Octave Scales

You can also play two-octave versions of the Harmonic Minor 2nd Mode, and here are two fingerings for those scales to check out in the practice room alongside the one-octave shapes presented above.

Harmonic Minor Mode 2 Arpeggios

When breaking up the second 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 m7b5 sound when using this arpeggio in a soloing situation.

The m7b5 arpeggio, as seen below, is used to outline m7b5 chord, which are usually found in minor key ii V I chord progressions.

Here are two shapes for the Bm7b5 arpeggio that you can practice and apply to your soloing ideas to bring the Harmonic Minor Mode 2 sound to your riffs and phrases.

Harmonic Minor Mode 2 Chords

You can also play all of the m7b5 arpeggio notes together to form the m7b5 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.

Harmonic Minor Mode 2 Soloing Exercises

To get started with applying the second 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 m7b5 arpeggio.

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


 m7b5_Backing_Track.mp3 ( 4.52MB ) : 194

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

Posted by: klasaine Sep 4 2013, 06:29 PM

The bridge of 'There Is No Greater Love' is a great example of when to use Harm. Min. mode II. The melody of the tune at that point even incorporates the #6.

Matt, does that mode have an alternate name? Like how HM mode 5 is referred to alot as phrygian dominant.

Posted by: The Professor Sep 4 2013, 06:30 PM

Good example, yeah you can use it on that bridge for sure. I've never heard it called anything except maybe Locrian Natural 6 or Locrian #6, but that's about it.

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