Mostly I play hard rock and metal, and recently I've been trying to improvise a lot with the harmonic minor scale, but it's not going great. I'd really like to learn to improvise (and rock out) with this scale and wondered if anyone can give me any advice or knows of any tunes that might lend some inspiration. I'm not looking to go all Malmsteen neo-classical though Thanks
no malmsteen???

i know slayer uses them, i forgot which songs,
metallica wherever i may roam - uses harmonic minor i think

iron maiden uses them some times

sorry im no help at all
Harmonic Minor, eh?

Sweet Child Of Mine solo before wah-wah pedal (that mellower part, before that fast lick).
Muse frequently uses harmonic minor.

This from top of my head, try using google for more results...
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Yeah, I got the urge to start using this scale from the Sweet Child solo; It's just a shame that Slash uses it so briefly. I'm really looking for more examples like this.
Look into some live solos from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' song Parallel Universe. John Frusciante has been using the harmonic minor a lot more frequently.
Good call Kartman; Parallel Universe live at Slane Castle has some truly phenomonal wailing in it. Thanks.
Listen to some Anthrax...alot of the solos are in harmonic minor.

And it's not Malmsteen wankage...
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Okay.... Parallel Universe live at Slane Castle is NOT the best example of a good solo that uses that scale...

Check out Sultans of Swing a little bit. A few of those licks in that song use that scale a little bit. Just remember that you're not really doing anything particularly different with this scale. The characteristic of it is just that dominant V chord. It take some getting used to the shapes and stuff, but it's an easy scale to improvise with. The biggest thing is just making sure that you use the natural seven in the right spots.

I don't think there's any real secret to using that scale man. Just playing around with it, seeing what sounds good and what doesn't, that's how you're going to get good at using it. You wouldn't typically use it for an entire guitar solo, though. If you're on the root chord in a progression, the flat seven might be a better choice, even if the chord progression goes from the root to the V7 chord. It's a really fun scale, you can create a lot of wonderful sounds with it, but like everything else that you learn on the guitar, there's a time and place. A lot of times, it's difficult to find a time and place in most of the songs that you'll probably learn.
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it's possible that since the altered degree in this scale is the 7th, you're focusing on it, and spending too much time playing that major 7th, and not enough time going from that note to the root, like the listener's ear (and your ear) probably expects.

i find that when i'm working on a new scale, i'll focus on it's altered degree too much, and not on how the other notes affect that altered degree. try to think of just playing a minor scale, but the seventh has moved. it still functions as a seventh, and a lot of your usual tricks will still work.
Last edited by frigginjerk at Jan 8, 2009,
Slash actually uses the Harmonic Minor at lot; end solo of November Rain is in it, off the top of my head.

Anyway, say for example, you're playing in A minor...and the chords are A minor, E minor and D minor, just a standard I-IV-V-I etc. Now, change that E minor to an E Major, then use A Harmonic Minor over E Major and you will be blown away. Obviously you can use A Minor over the A Minor and D Minor or can treat them separately, but whatever..

But basically, take any minor key, make the V degree major (like in it's major counterpart), then go harmonic minor on it's ass.

E.g in D Minor, the A Minor becomes major, in E Minor the B Minor becomes major...etc.

metallica wherever i may roam - uses harmonic minor i think

Actually it uses phrygian dominant, the fifth mode of harmonic minor.
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Harmonic minor is a Harmonic device by nature.

This means you need to base a progression which brings that note out.

Here are a few harmonic minor progressions to noodle with.

It's in A Harmonic minor;

Dm- E7 - Am

Am - F - E

Since Malmsteen (I know you hate him, and he's not the first who did this) made it popular as a melodic/shred device, it's commonly used over Dominant 7th chords, so whenever u see one, try to play the harmonic minor scale with it's root 5 semitones higher.

Example C7 chord; Go 5 semitones up = C#, D, D#, E, F so you play F Harmonic minor over it.

If you play this scale over that dominant 7th chord(technical starting/resolving on a C note of that scale), your playing/implying the 5th mode of the Harmonic minor scale, which is called Phrygian Dominant, and is used by (death) metal bands, neoclassical Metal, Flamenco and instrumental rock...

..Or sometimes in rock music like slash to spice it up a bit.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jan 8, 2009,
I'd honestly advise playing the harmonic minor and then just rooting and tooting around with the modes of it. i found amazingly complex lines and eastern feels from that sweet bunch of notes

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