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Harmonic Minor Scale in all 12 Minor Keys

Alright Im back with a bang this month! Here are the scale patterns for the Harmonic Minor Scale in all 12 Keys. I listed the scales to be played at 65 bpm and in 3 Note Per String fashion. I will list some sequences on how to attack this scale. I will also talk about how to learn it and use it most efficiently.

How to Learn the Scale

65 beats per minute is kind of fast using 16th note triplets if you've never done this scale before. Feel free to learn at the speed at which you are comfortable with.

Start with (Scale Fragments) such as 2 strings at a time. That would equal 6 notes at a time. So in order to learn the scale learn the first 6 notes on the bottom 2 strings (string 6 and string 5). Once you do that learn the next 2 strings (strings 4 and 3) and finally learn (strings 2 and 1).

Do this without a metronome at first. Go slow and play them (piano or even pianissimo). This is to get you nice and relaxed so that you can get up to speed quicker.

You will then (after you've learned all 3 sets of strings...6-5, 4-3, 2-1) Go back and play them FORTE or FORTISSIMO but not to the point where you have pain in your hand just play them loudly and with good, clean articulated tone.

AFTER this you can start adding 1 note to each pattern doing speed bursts if you want to practice for speed but also to make sure you have good technique and that you maintain that technique for each note.

Once this stuff is learned you can start to use a metronome. Don't skimp on the metronome. It's your best friend. Unlike your drummer. :)


The scale has a raised 7th. So you could call this mode Aeolian # 7. Pretty easy to remember this way although when you put your fingers to the fretboard its not so easy locating that # 7 so Ive included the tablature for you as well.

The formula for the scale is:

1 2 b3 4 5 b6  # 7


W - H - W - W - H - W+H - H

Basic Triads of the Harmonic Minor Scale

i iio7 III+ iv V VI viio7


imaj7 iio7 III+maj7 iv7 V7 VImaj7 viio7

iio7 and viio7 are fully diminished chords meaning they have a double flat 7.

If you dont know the chords you can let me know and ill whip something up for you. Its probably already whipped up actually.


Now that you've learned it the hard part is to use it efficiently.

For each key you can record or find a backing track online. Start off with 1 chord and using the scale over that one chord. You can always add chords later. The reason for this method is to FOCUS on chord tones. If you don't know your chord tones you're not gonna sound as good as you can if you did know your notes.

Start with slow, well articulated... melodies. Use whole notes and half notes and slowly increase the note values. Don't start off with 16th note flurries. I promise you that you will come up with a better lead if you start with a melody. You can check out Alex Skolnick's lesson on starting leads off with a melody.

Ok that's it folks. Have fun with this. Record yourself playing the scale on all 6 strings using video or audio. This doesn't have to be heard by anyone else other than you.

After you've recorded yourself and feel comfortable with the scales in each key...shoot for all 12 keys at once!

Harmonic Minor Modes Ascending SHAPE 1- 12 KEYS.pdf Harmonic Minor Shape 1 - 12 Keys
Harmonic Minor Modes Ascending SHAPE 1- 12 KEYS.pdf, 521KB

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@pauljones   2 years ago
Great stuff Mike! You have some interesting tips here... playing melodies as a tool for learning scales is a very useful tip. And thanks for the scale patterns on the pdf! I had not played the harmonic scale with this very fingering, but it's quite comfortable to play it this way.
@michaelsocarras   2 years ago
yes it is. and thanks for your comments.!