I'm trying to write a guitar riff in D Harmonic Minor, and wanted a 2nd guitar to harmonize with it. It always sounds really dissonant, there's a lot of diminished fifths and minor thirds. How can I harmonize the second guitar without having so much dissonance?
What happens if you use the natural minor rather than the harmonic minor?

*hint hint*
What interval are you trying to harmonise at? Figure that out first.
Last edited by Lavatain at Apr 6, 2013,
@HotspurJr What do you mean?
@Lavatain I'm using a perfect 5th, but it clashes with the rest of the band. For example, the rhythm guitars and bass are playing D, and if the lead guitar does a hammer-on and pull-off on C# and D, and the harmony guitar does the same thing a perfect 5th higher, then it's going between G# and A. A sounds nice, but the G# is a diminshed fifth and sounds bad with the rest of the band.
Quote by zaxk7521
but the G# is a diminshed fifth

Do you know why it's not a diminished 5th, but rather a augmented 4th?
...Not really. Is it because Ab is the diminshed fifth? I don't really know the difference between Ab and G# though.
Yeah, D to A is 5 letters. D to G is 4 letters. Pernickety, but very important nonetheless.

Try harmonizing in 3rds and 5ths.
Because you're using harmonic minor, the G# is creating a tritone with the root note, D. This is what's causing your dissonance.

You could either use the natural minor scale, and use C and D in one guitar and G and A in the other. Or you could use thirds harmony and do the C# and D with one guitar, and E and F in the harmony guitar.
Quote by zack7521
@HotspurJr What do you mean?

I think your problem is coming because you are foolishly using the harmonic minor scale, rather than the natural minor scale. That you don't understand the difference suggests, perhaps, that you should steer a mile away from the harmonic minor.

The harmonic minor is a variation of the natural minor scale which is used primarily because you're trying to strengthen the v-i cadence by making it a V7-i cadence. The advantage of the harmonic minor over the natural minor is that the raised 7th acts as a strong leading tone back to the tonic.

If you don't understand the above paragraph, then you should probably just stick to the natural minor. Weird stuff happens in the harmonic minor because of the step-and-a-half interval between the 6th and 7th scale degrees. This is why very few people use it. If you aren't specifically using the raised 7th of the harmonic minor as a leading tone, then really, just use the natural minor. Life will be much simpler.
try using parallel 3rds or 6ths above the 1st guitar melody
Last edited by ha_asgag at Apr 6, 2013,
Is it alright to switch between harmonic minor and natural minor in a song? In between say the chorus and the solo?
Why do you want to use the harmonic minor at all?

Okay, look - unless you are using the 7th degree as a leading tone, you're not using the harmonic minor. You're just using a major 7th accidental in a minor key. You can certainly do that whenever you want. There's nothing wrong with it.

But the "harmonic minor" isn't really it's own thing aside from its use as a leading tone.

I mean, heck, in your solo, unless you're playing that 7th note, you couldn't tell if you were in the harmonic or natural minor anyway, right?

Let me make a guess, when you solo, you aren't really aware of what scale degrees your playing, right?
You got your answer above. The harmonic minor scale changes v > i to V (or V7) > i.

So in your key of D minor, natural minor i,v, would be Am > Dm. Harmonic minor would be A major (or A7) to Dm. What you've done is introduce a major 7th interval into a scale with a b7th.

The best example I can think of, in which the harmonic minor being utilized, is The Rolling Stones, "Paint it Black. Here, the melody and any variations thereof, center around the notes C# to D, and E to F. These are both minor seconds, and that's what gives the song a false Phrygian sound.

Or as my daddy put it, with his typical drunken and consummate lack of elegance, "turn that shit off, it sounds like a Jewish chant".

Just as a suggestion, you can use the C# in the improv all you want, when going from A > Dm. However, you have to avoid introducing any other differential notes from the A major scale into the context. And your "G#" would be one of them. F# would be the other red herring.

I thought this was the reason set intervals in a harmony over a key wouldn't work, since as soon as you lock the harmonic interval, the whole mess becomes chromatic...no?
Last edited by Captaincranky at Apr 6, 2013,
This is a very ironic problem. Do you also need help melodicizing the melodic minor?