The Harmonic Minor Scale | Guitar Diagrams and Charts

The harmonic minor scale

What's the harmonic minor scale

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

How to harmonize the harmonic minor scale

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

  • The Dorian mode : 1-2-b3-4-5-6-b7
  • The Phrygian mode : 1-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
  • The Aeolian mode : 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7

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

How to play the harmonic minor scale on guitar

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

The harmonic minor scale over a minor II-V-I sequence

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.

In this lick, we will be playing 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

  • 49 Essential Jazz Lines NEW

    This downloadable eBook in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians of all times with TABS, standard notation and analysis both for guitar teachers and students. Learn to play essential jazz patterns to increase your playing skills.
  • 25 pentatonic licks

    Did you know that there are several pentatonic scales ? This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines built with common and rare pentatonic scales.
  • 20 II-V-I jazz guitar licks

    The 2-5-1 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 method is a printable PDF eBook with 20 II-V-I jazz guitar lines both in major and minor keys that will help you expand your improvisation skills over this chord sequence.
  • 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

    How to comp a II-V-I chord progression on guitar with drop 2, drop 3 chords, rootless and inverted voicings. This efficient method is a printable PDF eBook that contains 50 exercises with analysis, tabs & standard notation that will help you to play the essential jazz guitar chords over the famous II-V-I progression.
  • 11 blues jazz studies

    This PDF method contains 11 guitar lessons with chords, tabs, standard notation, analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music. The purpose of these studies being to hear, play and understand the main jazz-blues changes by using different chord voicings as drop 2, drop, 3, rootless.
  • 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 Dominant patterns

    This printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis and scale charts.
  • 25 soul jazz guitar licks

    You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks with tabs and standard notation in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson.These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
  • 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: 25/05/2018