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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

Well remember those cool days when you realised you can play B Harmonic Minor over E Harmonic Minor??

Look no further because the uber cool Harmonic Minor scale has more to offer us still..

For too long people only used it sound like Bach or Yngwie without understanding why back in the 14th century it was classed (and still is in classical music) as the "primary" minor scale, with the snubbed and shunned "natural minor" relegated to recorder players and beginners..

So why did the classic greats use the Harmonic? Well simply because it was the most flexible scale (in an unaltered state) that existed, this may be still true today, but why is it so flexible its just a minor scale?

The phrase "its just a minor scale" shows epic musical ignorance. The Harmonic Minor is a true rare beast as it contains some musical oddities exploited by the great composers/song writers even today.

For example the harmonic minor contains Major scale sounding chord progression in fact quite a few pop songs have been written in harmonic minor with nobody even knowing it because people think of it only in terms of the 2nd to tonic to major seventh sound.

If you look at E harmonic minor you can play a genuine unaltered note Major scale sounding progression like C Em B Am, all nice and happy but there is far more depth than just a "darkness and light" sound scape, lets look deeper at the notes and chords.

Classically the note are:

E F# G A B C D# (too lazy to use flats!)

Thus the chords can be named thus:

Em F# Dim G+ Am B C D# Dim

But if we look closer at the scale we find something really rare in the scale. We find TWO duality chords. A duality chord is one where a single chord can be two different triad types with the same root using UNALTERED notes from the scale. If we look at our E harmonic minor example we see the two DUALITY chords start on the notes A (IV) and C (VI).

If we analyse the scale this means we can have Am AND A Dim, as well as C Major 7 AND C Dim in the same unaltered key!!

Because Am need A C and E (which we have) and A Dim needs A C D# (which we also have). C Major 7 needs C E G B (which we have) and C Dim needs C D# F# (which we also have).

This leads the musician into really cool mood changing chords without changing key. So if we took a nice happy Major sounding chord progression like: C Am B Em we could get all deep and evil by using one or more DUALITY chords to infere a change of key to a nasty Minor thus:

C Am B Em then C Em B A Dim Em F# Dim etc...

And thats just a glimpse into the untouch world of the Harmonic Minor scale and don't forget you can flip your top with the even more astounding Harmonic MAJOR scale!!

Until next time rock on!!
 

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To add some history: The harmonic minor key was created to give composers a major dominant chord in a minor key, creating a stronger resolution. Of course, the third degree of the dominant chord also happens to be the leading tone of the scale, giving harmonic minor the formula: 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-7

Raising the seventh degree has the side effect of creating a augmented second between the sixth and seventh degrees, which is generally considered dissonant. For this reason it was (and still is) generally used to build chord progressions (hence: harmonic minor). When creating melodies, composers either raised the sixth degree as well (hence: melodic minor), or flatted the seventh depending on the direction (this is rarely done nowadays). When ascending, melodic minor was used as the leading tone flows more smoothly into the tonic, whereas the flatted sixth leads more smoothly into the fifth degree when descending.

B Harmonic Minor over E Harmonic Minor??
You're referring to B phrygian dominant, which is not the same as harmonic minor (having the same notes is about the only thing they have in common). If the progression is in E minor, you would use E minor. Modes are generally played over one or two chord vamps specifically tailored for a specific mode. Modal music is different from key based music.
 

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Sorry to hijack the thread but I'm currently studying the harmonic MAJOR scale (major scale with a flat 6.) Does anyone know any practical applications for such a scale?
The harmonic major scale is more often used to create borrowed chords (specifically, a minor chord built off of the subdominant in a major key) than to create actual progressions, but it is very harmonically stable and you could certainly create a progression out of it if you wanted to. It usually isn't used when creating a melody for the same reason that harmonic minor isn't, but if the patchy and dissonant quality appeals to you, go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The harmonic Major scale is god! Much understudied, apart from the boring jazz connections you can make a half decent instrumental out of it.

As Satriani showed with the Engimatic scale the only true limitation is your own confidence in writing music.

It is not very difficult to create a good song with the harmonic major and melodies have an individual quality that can make the difference between sounding like everyone else and having your own voice.

As always if you look at anything from a mostly theory perspective the tonal beauty of any scale is lost and so is creativity which is sacrificed to keep "in key" and soon you sound like all the people in the music store who all play the same licks yawn!

Work out all the chords you can have and 3 inversions of each and string em together in random orders and soon coolness and fame could be yours!

Me i'm chickening out and going back finishing my Pink Floyd number in E Harmonic Minor (using the duality chords to hide it!) with a some mind bending chord combinations over the top.

Anyway I am glad this proved of interest to somebody, the best theory is the stuff that makes music rather than filling people heads with things they never use (super locrian anybody?)

Have a nice day and thanks for looking :)
 
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