The harmonic minor scale | Guitar diagrams and charts

Harmonic minor scale

The harmonic minor scale contains seven notes, these are the same as the minor natural scale (aeolian mode) except the seventh degree that is raised by one semitone. Here is a comparison between the natural minor scale (aeolian mode) and the harmonic minor scale.

C natural minor scale (aeolian mode) C D Eb F G Ab Bb
Formula 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
C harmonic minor scale C D Eb F G Ab B
Formula 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7


Here is the C harmonic minor scale formula :

C Harmonic minor scale C D Eb F G Ab B
Formula 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7
Intervals W H W W H W+H H


Theoretically the harmonic minor scale should be played over minMaj7 chords, but it can also be used over minor chords like m6, m7, m9, m11, m6/9. Playing the harmonic melodic scale over a minor 7 chord creates tension because of the major seventh present in it. To attenuate this tension you need to resolve you lick on a proper note.

Chords of the harmonic minor scale (Harmonization)

Here are the chords built from each degree of the harmonic minor scale. Triad chords are made of three notes stacked in thirds and quadrads chords made of four notes stacked in thirds too. For example the first chord, C minor(maj7), is built by stacking C, Eb, G and B respectively root, minor third, perfect fifth and major seventh.

Once the harmonic minor scale is harmonized we get a major seventh chord (sixth degree), one augmented chord (III), two minor chords (degrees I & IV), one minor seventh flat fifth chord on the second degree (II), one dominant seventh chord (V) and one diminished seventh chord on degree VII.

Augmented chords are necessarily majors and diminished chords are minor.


C Harmonic minor scale C D Eb F G Ab B
Triad chords Cm Ddim Eb Aug Fm G Ab Bdim
Quadrad chords C-maj7 D-7b5 EbMaj7#5 Fm7 G7 AbMaj7 Bdim7


Chords formulas

Quadrad chords in the key of C minor.

Chords  Notes  Formulas
CmMaj7 C-Eb-G-B 1-b3-5-7
D-7b5 D-F-Ab-C 1-b3-b5-b7
EbMaj7#5 Eb-G-B-D 1-3-#5-7
F-7 F-Ab-C-Eb 1-b3-5-b7
G7 G-B-D-F 1-3-5-b7
AbM7 Ab-C-Eb-G 1-3-5-7
Bdim7 B-D-F-Ab 1-b3-b5-bb7


Other minor scales

Minor modes of the major scale

Minor modes of the melodic minor scale

  • The melodic minor scale : 1-2-b3-4-5-6-7
  • Dorian b9 mode (melodic minor II) : 1-b2-b3-4-5-6-b7

Harmonic minor guitar position 1

These two recommended patterns shows you how to play the harmonic minor scale on your guitar.

To understand and "hear" this scale it is important to play these patterns by starting with the root "R".

For example, to play the C harmonic minor scale using the first pattern you have to put your first finger on the sixth string at the eighth fret.

You have to learn these fingerings and transpose these patterns in twelve keys.

To play the harmonic mode in other keys you just have to move the root "R" to the desired note keeping the same intervals.


Pattern 1 w/ intervals. Roots on the sixth, fourth and first string.

Harmonic minor scale guitar positions

Pattern 1 w/fingerings

Harmonic minor scale guitar fingering 1

Harmonic minor guitar position 2

To play the C harmonic minor scale using the second pattern you have to put your first finger on the fifth string at the third fret.

Pattern 2 w/ intervals.Roots on the fifth and the third string.

Harmonic minor scale guitar positions 2

Pattern 2 w/fingerings

Harmonic minor scale guitar fingering 2

How to play the harmonic minor scale over a minor II-V-I sequence

Here is an example of use of the harmonic minor scale over a minor II-V-I sequence. The following sequence contains three chords related to the harmonic minor scale. By taking the second (Dm7b5), the fifth G7(b9) and the first chord of this scale you get a minor II-V-I progression present in many jazz standards as Autumn leaves, Black orpheus, Blue Bossa, Stella by Starlight...). It is very important to master this jazz sequence.

Basically, you can play the D harmonic minor scale over the whole sequence. You could also  play the D locrian mode or a D half-diminished arpeggio over Dm7b5, the G altered scale over G7b9... there are many solutions to improvise over a minor II-V-I sequence that are discussed in the PDF eBook  "10 minor II-V-I jazz guitar licks".

In this lick we will play the Eb harmonic minor scale over the Dm7b5 chord starting on the minor third (F). You can also think it as the D locrian # 2 mode. Playing this mode over Dm7b5 can bring an interesting color/tension, the #2 (or #9), to your guitar solos.

Ii v i harmonic minor jazz guitar lick

  • 20 II-V-I jazz guitar licks

    The II-V-I sequence is the most common chord progression found in jazz music.It's a must know for anyone who wants to learn jazz language.This printable PDF eBook contains 20 II-V-I jazz guitar lines both in major and minor keys.
  • 5 Jazz blues arpeggio studies

    A printable PDF eBook with tabs and standard notation containing five guitar studies that will help you to master arpeggios over a jazz blues progression. Many topics are discussed, dominant 7, minor 7, diminished arpeggios.
  • 50 II-V-I voicings NEW

    Printable PDF eBook method containing 50 exercises with tabs & standard notation to practice the essential jazz guitar chords over the II-V-I progression. Drop 2, drop 3 chords, inverted voicings, substitutions with analysis.
  • 11 blues jazz studies

    This PDF eBook contains 11 guitar lessons with chords, tabs, standard notation,analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music. The purpose being to hear, play and understand the main jazz blues changes
  • Mastering the altered scale

    This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to learn to master the altered scale. How to develop the altered scale, how to apply it to the V of a II-V-I sequence.
  • 40 blues jazz guitar licks

    40 easy jazz, blues guitar licks with tabs & scale charts. Printable PDF & eBook method to learn to play in the style of Wes Montgomery & Charlie Christian.
  • 25 soul jazz guitar licks

    This PDF eBook is about 25 soul jazz guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks. Lessons with tabs, diagrams, backing track & audio files.
  • 25 dominant diminished licks

    This eBook PDF contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and some diminished 7th arpeggios.
  • 25 minor jazz guitar licks

    This printable PDF eBook contains 25 minor jazz guitar licks with tabs, video links, analysis. How to play modes, scales & arpeggios over minor chords.
  • 5 Tritone substitution licks

    The tritone substitution is explained through 5 jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video links and backing track links. Printable PDF eBook

Last edited: 08/12/2017

Add a comment

Incorrect code - please try again.


Subscribe the newsletter 

To keep you informed of the latest lessons and articles. (no spam)