The Harmonic Minor Scale | Guitar Diagrams and Charts

What's The Harmonic Minor Scale?

The harmonic minor scale contains seven notes. The interval pattern formula is 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - 7. It is built the same as the natural minor scale (Aeolian mode) but the seventh degree is raised by one semitone. 

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


Harmonic minor scale

What's the Difference Between Melodic Minor and Harmonic Minor?

The melodic minor scale is built the same as the harmonic minor scale but has a major sixth (6) instead of a minor sixth (b6) giving the formula 1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7. They both have a major seventh.

Comparison melodic and harmonic minor scale

Comparison With Aeolian Mode

The main difference with the Aeolian mode (natural minor scale) is the seventh that is minor (b7) for the Aeolian mode whereas it is major (7) for the harmonic minor.

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
Comparison aeolian and harmonic minor

Harmonic Minor Scale Application

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. To attenuate this tension you need to resolve you lick on a proper note.

Harmonic Minor Scale - One Octave Diagrams

Here are four diagrams to play the harmonic minor scale on your guitar. Each shapes contains tones within the space of one octave.

The most easy way to learn the scale is to play it starting from the tonic (1 in the graphic). Be sure to practice them in twelve keys.



Harmonic minor scale guitar 1

Harmonic Minor Scale - Two Octave Diagrams

These two shapes show the harmonic scale within the space of two octaves. Remember to practice them slowly, the speed will come later.  You can also practice these shapes in quarter notes, eighth notes or even sixteenth notes.

Harmonic minor scale two octave shapes 2

Harmonic Minor Scale - 3 Notes Per String 

Here below in the diagram, the G harmonic minor scale is presented in 7 different shapes covering the whole neck. Each shape contains 3 notes per string. The first position starts with the tonic (1), the second with the second (2), the third with the b3 and on and on. Keep in mind that all these shapes are movable.

Harmonic minor scale guitar positions 1

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 tetrad 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
Tetrad 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
Harmonic minor mode harmonization

Seventh Chords (Drop 2 and Drop 3 Voicings)

The five diagrams below show how looks drop 2 and drop 3 chords from the harmonic minor scale harmonized in thirds. Each chord type is represented by a color code.

  • Green for the chord of the first degree (minMaj7).
  • Brown for the chord starting on the second degree (m7b5).
  • Blue for the chord starting from the third degree (Maj7#5).
  • Red for the chord of the fourth degree (min7).
  • Grey for the chord starting on the fifth degree (dom7). 
  • Orange for the chord starting from the sixth degree (Maj7).
  • Purple for the chord starting on the seventh degree (dim7).

How to The Harmonic Minor in Arpeggios?

When playing one by one each of the chords from the harmonic minor scale we get seven arpeggios:

  1. MinMaj7 ? 1 b3 5 7
  2. m7b5 (half-diminished) ? 1 b3 b5 b7
  3. maj7#5 ? 1 3 #5 7
  4. min7 ? 1 b3 5 b7
  5. Dom 7 ? 1 3 5 b7
  6. Maj7 ? 1 3 5 7
  7. Dim7 ? 1 b3 b5 bb7

These arpeggios are very useful to improvise over jazz chord changes. Learning them will expand your theoretical knowledge and your guitar technique.

The transcription below show how to play the seven arpeggios from the C harmonic minor scale. As you will hear, each arpeggio is played ascending and descending. Be sure to play them in all twelve keys all over the guitar neck, trying to vary the positions and fingerings. 

Harmonic minor arpeggios for guitar

PDF Methods For Jazz Guitarists

  • Guitar Chord Dictionary

    This PDF eBook provides over 550 guitar chord shapes. This is the perfect reference guide to understand how chords are built and how to play them on guitar.
  • 172 Arpeggio Shapes For Guitar

    This printable PDF is a method designed for guitarists of all styles who want to learn the most important types of arpeggios using diagrams and theoretical charts.
  • 126 Triad Chord Shapes

    This handbook for guitar players is intended both for teachers and students. It includes 126 guitar shapes for mastering triads.
  • 30 Smooth Jazz Guitar Licks

    In this package you'll get a printable PDF Method with tabs, notation, analysis, scale shapes and audio files related to 30 smooth jazz guitar licks.
  • 40 II V I Jazz Guitar Licks

    This pdf method for guitar contains 40 II V I jazz guitar lines with tab, standard notation, analysis, scale charts and audio files.
  • 50 II-V-I voicings

    This guitar method is a printable PDF eBook containing 50 exercises with audio files, analysis, tab & standard notation.
  • 40 Minor 2 5 1 Chord Voicings

    This PDF method contains 40 exercices with tabs, scores and audio files for practicing jazz guitar chords over the minor 2 5 1 progression.
  • 40 Minor II V I Licks

    This guitar method is a printable PDF with tabs, diagrams, theory and audio files providing 40 minor II V I jazz licks.
  • II V I Bundle

    This package contains 3 PDF methods for jazz guitarists with tabs, audio files, analysis about the II V I progression.
  • 40 Mixolydian Jazz Guitar Lick

    PDF guitar method with tabs, audio files and theory providing 40 dominant jazz guitar lines for teachers and students.
  • 40 Minor Jazz Guitar Licks

    This printable guitar method in PDF format contains 40 easy minor jazz guitar lines based on the Dorian mode.
  • 40 Major Jazz Guitar Licks

    Printable PDF eBook method containing 40 major jazz guitar licks with tab, standard notation and audio files for beginners and intermediates.
  • Diatonic Licks Bundle

    This package contains 120 jazz guitar lines based on diatonic modes as Mixolydian, Dorian and Ionian. PDF format with tabs, audio files and analysis.
  • Guitar Walking Bass Lines

    This jazz guitar method about walking bass lines and chords is available as a PDF files containing 35 exercises with tabs, analysis and audio files
  • 101 Dominant Arpeggio Patterns

    This printable PDF method provides 101 dominant arpeggio exercises with tab, theory and standard notation for the jazz, blues and rock guitarist.
  • 49 Essential Jazz Lines

    This printable eBook method in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians. Tab, standard notation, audio files & analysis.
  • 11 Jazz Blues Studies

    This PDF method contains 11 guitar lessons with chord studies, tabs, standard notation, analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music.
  • 25 Altered Jazz Guitar Lines

    This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
  • 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, audio files and scale charts.
  • Mastering 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 with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
  • 25 Soul Jazz Guitar Licks

    You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks 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 Diminished Patterns

    This eBook PDF with audio files contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
  • 6 Tritone substitution licks

    This Printable PDF eBook available for free download contains 6 easy jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video link and analysis about the tritone substitution.

Last edited: 2021-05-17


  • Arun Kaji Shrestha
    • 1. Arun Kaji Shrestha On 2021-04-04
    Thank you Sir.
    • Stef Ramin
      • Stef RaminOn 2021-04-04
      You're welcome
  • Pivo
    • 2. Pivo On 2021-02-14
    Hey Stef,
    I think I found what Phil was talking about in his comment: the tablature for Ebmaj7#5 as found in the image titled "harmonic minor mode in seventh chords" has a flat B instead of a natural one, as there is no flat B in the harmonic minor scale.
    Also, thanks a lot for this guide, the colored charts are fantastic!
    • Stef Ramin
      • Stef RaminOn 2021-02-14
      Hi, The natural symbol in the first bar works for all the following bars including Ebmaj#5 (E-B-D-G). My software don't display the natural if it is already noted. Thank you ;)
  • phil
    • 3. phil On 2019-01-30
    Thanks for this really helpful page.
    Just noted there should be a 'natural' symbol on the B shown in notation for Ebmaj7#5?

    • Stef Ramin
      • Stef RaminOn 2019-01-30
      No need natural symbol. Thanks for your comment

Add a comment