Writing Chord Progressions in Harmonic Minor

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In this video, we go over the chords in Harmonic Minor and some suggestions on how to put them together in order to write music only using the Harmonic Minor scale. All chords are covered with the exception of the Augmented bIII chord. I forgot to mention that the chord is nearly useless to me and I have yet to find a use for it in the context of Harmonic Minor. 


Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors. However, I do hope you find it helpful. Be sure to check out The Ultimate Modal Poster!

If you're already familiar with the harmonic minor scale, the next step is to get familiar with the chords that are available to us just using the notes of that scale.

So we're really thinking in this video like harmonic minor is its own key and it's not there's no such thing as a key of harmonic minor but let's just pretend there is and we're going to deduce every single cord were allowed to play and that way we can make chord progressions that really only consists of those notes. Then we're going to contrast what we get with that with our normal minor scale and see some of the differences there and some of the cool things we can do is composers to play around. Two ideas of working in harmonic minor and just working in natural minor. So let's start off by figuring out what are the chords of the ee harmonic minor while the notes worry F sharp G A B C D sharp and E.

All I need to do is to figure out the chords is well, let's start on the first note E and I'll figure out the first chord by just skipping a note and every time I do that, well, I skip a note takes me to GI. Skip another note it takes me to be that's an E Minor triad.

So that means my first chord will be E minor if I start on the second note and if I build a Triad I again F sharp and then I skip a note it takes me to a and then if I skip another note that takes me to see so that would be an F sharp diminished Triad.

So my 2 chord would be an F sharp diminished my three chord you can see would be G B and D sharp.

That's a g augmented Triad.

My four chord would be a mime.

My five chord would be B major 6A C Major seven IS F sharp diminished again. We're just going to call it a Triad for now, but we're going to talk about the 2 chord in the seventh chord and just a little bit for right now, though. Take a look. We've got some really nice chords here. We've got a minor one. We've got a minor for got a major 5 and we got this Flat 6, which is a major as well. So just those four chords right? There are my advice for you to write in harmonic minor just take those four chords switch them up play around with them and see what you get if I give it something like a Latin strumming pattern right? I'll start off on E minor go to my for board go to my 6 by 5.

So that's the miners the one a miners before.

See Majors the 6 and then be made I like Ending by chord progressions. I like having that last chord be that five chord because we talked in the last video about this being the dominant chord that pulls us back to E minor. So if I need to Loop my chord progression, I'm going to have a lot of success by ending with a major taking me but you don't have to have the last chord be the dominant chord. I could have like the forecourt be the last chord. So let's listen if I want from my 1 chord E minor.

To my five chord right away, then go to the 6 chord for C. Now. Let's go to the four chord for a Maya metal still resolved just in a softer fashion.

It won't have that real tension to take us back. It's a just a softer Landing their back to the minor.

But all those chords right there. I know that every single note in harmonic minor can be found in those chords. So I know if I wanted to sing or play leads or write a lead. I know that harmonic minor would work wonderfully over that.

Entire chord progression right there. So that's my first piece of advice use the one the 4 the 5 and the 6 play around with those and see what you get. I think the five and the six there's a lot to explore going back and potatoes because you have two major chords that are just a half step apart and that's pretty neat if you've got Built up in just that little movement right there in the five to six change.

So let's talk about where these diminished chords are going to fit in when I start on the second note and start skipping. I get the notes F sharp A and C and that's a diminished Triad but it's pretty rare to see these Triads all alone. Normally what we do is add another note to them to either make them a half diminished chord or a full diminished chord now in this scale if I skip another note I can get to e and that'll give me a half diminished chord, but I also have a half diminished in.

E-minor scale so it's not that unique of a cord.

However by adding in this D sharp, it makes it a full diminished chord and you're not allowed to play a full diminished in E Minor. So I find this to be a more fun chord to play in harmonic minor.

If I look at the four notes of F-sharp full diminished. I have F sharp a C and D sharp and if I build a full diminished chord off of my seventh degree, I get the exact same notes in a different order.

So when dealing with these full diminished chords, I like to think of the 2 and the 7 as pretty much the same chord because they're the same notes and they serve the same function this Stu chord sounds really ugly on its own right? It's pretty disturbing but it resolves very well to the one chord.

I to hear that nice change right there for my to to my so this is actually a great Jam that I use a lot is just going from a diminished to who will one and it works great to have a lead player play some little salsa harmonic minor piano on top of it or leave guitar player and believe it or not. You can even get away with totally breaking the rules here and even This is pure harmonic minor you could play a pentatonic minor or a natural minor jam on top of that and you'll still get some really cool spicy sounding stuff, even though these chords are just strictly in the key of harmonic line.

The diminished chord though. I have a lot more success following up that diminished chord with the five chord. All right, so either of the diminished chord I'm thinking of it as a two five one Cadence. So here's my 2 chord.

Here's my five chord and then here's my one.

So this is the kind of thing. You'll hear a lot in Neo classical music.

It's just a very very strong bold Cadence and I will be using that in the composition video that will follow this up. I'll be trying to slip in a little bit more of that get some medieval flare out of things. So let's write a quick little chord progression in any harmonic minor. I'll start on my 1 chord, which is E minor. We'll just arpeggiate that. That I'll go straight to my five chord, which is B7 and then I'm going to go to see major my six and then my four chord a minor then I'll go back to E minor.

I'll go straight to the six then to my 2 chord which is diminished and then to my five.

So here's my cord brush. I've got one five six.

the 6 to the 2 to the 5 during medieval E chord progression. You can hear that harmonic minor flare really seeping through everything we're doing right there and obviously as a composer, I might want to accent that by may be doing this on something like a church organ or over a triplet feel to get kind of that neoclassical Viking metal feel out of it. There's a lot of flavor that's already kind of infused into this harmonic minor writing that as a composer. You can feel it. You can feel free to amp that flavor up or try to subdue it with what you do now. This isn't really What we're supposed to do as musicians is this is this isn't the stuff we hear a lot. We don't hear a lot of stuff. That's strict harmonic minor what we normally here is stuff that's natural minor and then there's just little bits of this harmonic minor stuff in there. For example, if I compare my E minor chords to my e harmonic minor chords, there's a lot of similarities here. I still can play email. I can still play E minor a minor. I can still play a C major those are important chords, but in E Minor, I'm allowed to play a d natural.

I'm allowed to See this D major chord, which is an excellent cord if I want to stay in harmonic minor, I'm not allowed to play D. And that just stinks why I mean, there's no reason I shouldn't be allowed to play that I like that court. I want to do it, especially if I follow it up with a see it sounds really nice going E minor and then with a B7 at the end so I can think of this Andalusian Cadence here. This is just a lot of seven a six and then this major five here. I can think of this as being in the key of E minor and then that five chord is just the dominant five four.

Temporarily over this dominant five board, you can think of it as I've shifted into harmonic minor for just a little bit take a look at this simple chord progression. What if I was just on E minor to a minor that's my fourth or there's nothing about this chord progression that is making it harmonic minor or that's making a natural minor because I'm avoiding that whole problem with the seventh. I'm not doing anything that's shoving us into being in harmonic minor. We're shoving this into being a natural minor which means that you get to choose you get to do either. Or on top of us and you could really kind of go back and forth to give the listener some, you know, some cool Smokey minor stuff, but also given that spicier heavier Vice your harmonic minor something like this.

So for me, this is pretty important stuff knowing the difference between minor and harmonic minor and knowing the affected gives me as a listener when I'm in full harmonic minor versus just temporarily being in harmonic minor and major. Mainly being in the natural minor scale. So in the next video here, what I'm going to do is take all these Concepts and apply them to modern music instead of just walking through the theory will actually talk about songwriting in the modern sense. How can I turn this into a rap beat, how can I turn this into an English a Malmsteen neoclassical song and that should be a pretty fun video. So stay tuned for that. If you like videos like this, please like subscribe comment. Please check out my patreon you can support me there and thank you for watching.


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