Harmonic Minor Scale Licks

The general application, and creation of licks from the scale of Harmonic Minor.

Ultimate Guitar
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers questions from off of his Guitar Blog website.

Q). I recently watched your video titled "Understanding the Harmonic Minor Scale" and it really helped me with getting the basics down for Harmonic Minor's theory. But, now that I've started to get into trying to actually use the Harmonic Minor, I'm finding that I have trouble at developing licks with it. Would you consider making another video dedicated to licks of the Harmonic Minor Scale?
Cliff – Eugene, OR. USA

A). The use of the Harmonic Minor Scale has a number of different functions, all of which are useful in their own unique ways. Start the lesson, by watching the video below...

Video lesson (with on-screen TAB):

YouTube preview picture

Lesson overview...

Modified fifth (V) harmonic degree:

In a popular application, we find musical situations such as a "Major," or a, "Dominant 7th," five (V) chord in a minor key progression, we can apply the sounds of Harmonic Minor scale built from the same tonic note as the key center.

This would mean, that if we were in the key of "A Natural Minor" (which contains a fifth chord of "E Minor"), and we noticed that the five chord was converted from its normal minor quality, over into either a major chord (E Major), or into a Dominant 7th chord, (E7), we could apply the "A Harmonic Minor" scale over-top of that modified "E chord-type."

Modified seventh (VII) harmonic degree:

Another, "Harmonic Minor," situation is when we find a raised 7th harmony degree in a progression operating as a "Diminished 7th" chord." If we again used an example from the key of "A Natural Minor," we might see a "G# dim.7" chord either along with the proper "G Major or 7th" or perhaps we might see the "G# dim.7" operating by itself. Regardless, we can play "A Harmonic Minor" over the appearance of, "G# dim.7."

Minor II-V chord progressions:

Whenever we're playing over a Minor Key "II-V" (which is popular with a lot of Jazz and Latin numbers), the Harmonic Minor can pull us through once again!

But, it doesn't end there. When we experiment with Harmonic Minor in all kinds of other minor key environments, we are going to find that its licks can be manipulated to work for almost every one of the minor concepts using the extremely versatile sounds of this scale. Your best bet is to experiment, try out different situations and if you can make the Harmonic Minor work, then go for it. Chances are you'll be able to force it into a lot of unexpected minor key musical situations.

About the Author:
Andrew Wasson is a 1992 Graduate of Hollywood California's Guitar Institute of Technology (G.I.T.). He has operated his Canadian Music School; Creative Guitar Studio, for the last 20+ years teaching thousands of guitarists both in studio sessions, and through his popular YouTube Channels and websites. Hundreds of FREE lessons are available at www.andrewwasson.com.

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