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The Professor
Harmonic Minor For Guitar - Mode 5

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

Used to solo over 7b9b13 chords, the Harmonic Minor 5th Mode and Arpeggio bring a strong sense of tension to your riffs and lines as it contains the b9 and b13 intervals over 7th chords.

In this lesson, we’ll be exploring various shapes for the scale, arpeggio and chords derived from the fifth 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 5 One Octave Scales

To begin, we will explore four different one-octave Harmonic Minor 5th Mode shapes so that you can bring these sounds to your practicing and soloing ideas.

The Harmonic Minor 5th Mode is built with the following intervals:

R b2 3 4 5 b6 b7

Or, in the key of E would be:

E F G# A B C D

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 E7b9 for example.

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Harmonic Minor Mode 5 Two Octave Scales

You can also play two-octave versions of the Harmonic Minor 5th Mode, 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 5 Arpeggios

When breaking up the fifth mode of the Harmonic Minor scale into an arpeggio, by playing the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th notes of the scale in order, you produce a 7b9 sound when using this arpeggio in a soloing situation.

Here are two shapes for the E7b9 arpeggio that you can practice and apply to your soloing ideas to bring the Harmonic Minor Mode 5 sound to your riffs and phrases.

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Harmonic Minor Mode 5 Chords

You can also play all of the 7b9 arpeggio notes together to form the 7b9 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 5 Soloing Exercises

To get started with applying the fifth 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 7b9 arpeggio.

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


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Do you have a question about the fifth mode of the Harmonic Minor Scale? Share your thoughts in the thread below.
Also often referred to as Phrygian Dominant! Good "article"/lesson!
The Professor
QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Sep 15 2013, 11:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also often referred to as Phrygian Dominant! Good "article"/lesson!

Thanks! yeah I usually call it that, but not everyone does, so good to know a few ways to refer to it so we recognize it in lessons and when talking to other guitarists.
Also known as 'Freygish' (comes from phrygian) to those who play Klezmer music.
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