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Getting Started with Harmonic Minor-Leads and Jamming

Today we're talking about the harmonic minor scale and that is one of my favorite scales of all time. It's the very first scale that I was able to identify just on hearing it alone because it has such a distinct flavor to it. You should have heard in that intro that ain't major that ain't mine or that's something way different and you'll see as we construct the Feel that there's something unique about this that we just don't see in major or minor. 

Transcription

 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!

Today we're talking about the harmonic minor scale and that is one of my favorite scales of all time. It's the very first scale that I was able to identify just on hearing it alone because it has such a distinct flavor to it. You should have heard in that intro that ain't major that ain't mine or that's something way different and you'll see as we construct the Feel that there's something unique about this that we just don't see in major or minor. So in this video, I'm just going to introduce you to what the harmonic minor scale is. And I want to show you as a guitar player or lead player some of the things you might do to extract some of the great Parts out of the scale and use it as a lead device to write lead lines or melodies or just improvise with it. We're not going to go too heavy into the cord Theory. I'll save that for another video but really it's just about sounding good with harmonic minor on top of a simple chords or a Jam track, like what we'll be using today now, I normally Make my own Jam tracks for these videos, but today is a little different. I've been in contact with a YouTuber named Chuck us and he makes great Jam track videos with excellent graphics on screen scale charts diagrams all that great stuff. So he has been kind enough to provide me with one of his Jam tracks and that's what we'll be using today. I highly suggest you check out his channel. I've linked to it in the description and there's tons of fantastic Jam tracks on there that I have been having a lot of fun playing on top of so let's get started. What is the harmonic minor scale? And how do we build it?

If you know, what a minor scale is this will Be so much easier. So please do some homework and watch my video on the minor scale. If you're not already familiar with this concept, but if you do know what a minor scale is, all we have to do is make a minor scale and then find that 7th note and just raise it up a half step. So here's what I mean e-minor is F sharp g a b c d my seventh note there was D. And if I just raise it to a D sharp instead of a d that I've got e harmonic minor take a listen e f sharp g a b c sharp Back down those same and you can hear just going up and down already gets us that exotic kind of Middle Eastern Flair to it, right you add a little bit of Interest something like a hammer on or a pull off at the top and you know, throwing the cord when you're done the tonic chord there would be E minor just like in the E minor scale. That sounds wonderful. All I did was just go up and down.

So something I want you to pay attention to as you're learning. This is that that's six note has a pretty big jump to get to the seventh note. All right, normally our scales have been set up where there's just a whole step to the next note a half step to the next node. This is a distance of three Frets to get to that next. No, that's that's one and a half steps and that's a big jump and I think that's really what is going to help you identify. The scale by ear is hearing that huge jump in the second half of the register there now as a guitar player, there are like infinite ways. Actually play this I'm only going to give you one little shape here today and it's gonna look like this. I'm going to find the root on my 5th string So since today we're Annie. I need to find e on my 5th string and that's my seventh fret and once I found that I can build this shape, it goes like this. I'll have my first finger and my ring finger and my pinky that's 7 9 10 and then the next ring 7 9 10 and then the next thing will be eight nine eleven.

My next ring will be 8 10 and 12 and then the next ring will be eight big jump to 11 and then the pinky finishes off on.

Twelve going back through those same notes 12 11 8 12 10, eight eleven nine eight ten nine seven ten nine seven and I set that up three notes per string. So it's easy to economy pick through. So if you want to later on take the scale and start learning some Yngwie Malmsteen or some neoclassical harmonic minor is going to be the scale for all of that kind of music, but you don't have to play three notes per string. I encourage you to look for other shapes and other ways to play this but for right now, I want to learn it like that.

So what we can Do is just play up and down it on top of our Jam track. So for right now really just go to this Jam track and hit play and try going up and down with some simple patterns and hear what it sounds like it's not going to be the most exciting thing, but you can spice it up a little bit by maybe putting a little gaps in your up and down playing so maybe go up just to go up a few notes and then stop maybe go up a few more notes and stop and then maybe back down some notes and then down a few notes and then back up. All right be creative see what happens but definitely do it over that Jam track like I'm going to about to show you and you'll hear how interesting something. Simple like that can actually sound so the next step is actually putting something really interesting in there right now. We've got this kind of a boring up-and-down thing. But what I want to do is I want to prepare a little cool sounding trick that I can just kind of serve up to the listener whenever I want to something I already have figured out ahead of time. So I don't have to like calculate the Rhythm and the fingers something. I like a lick that I have pretty much memorized and what I've prepared here for this starts at the top of the scale and just goes down the scale and then back up.

However, I start off with some 16th notes to give it a little intro. So it's going to go one e and two and three and four and one just like that. So here's what it sounds like itís Loop that lick over and over again one e and two and three and four and one two, three four now in the middle of my Jam track. Act whenever I find a one beat, I know I can play this little phrase and will end right on a one Beetle. Give me something that actually sounds like a knows what he's doing as opposed to me. Just noodling back and forth right take a listen.

And now once you have that one trick up your sleeve see what you can do with what you wrote to give yourself two tricks up your sleeve. So I'm going to take that same idea. And I'm just going to displace it by one string. So I'll started here on this string. I'll just do pull offs on the top money and and then I'll go down the scale two and three and four and one. So here's basically the same lick one e and two and three and four and I can bust that out whenever I want and not really have to, you know, calculate anything or sweat it out and you know, try and figure out oh, I don't know where I'm going. Is it going to end on time? I know it's going to is on time because already prepared it ahead of time and that's the idea, you know improv is a funny word, but a lot of Your improvisation I'd say only 10% of your improv is actually improvised.

Most of your improvisation is just you rehearsing things that somehow have crept into your mind or you're playing or your fingers. I think even for some of the greatest players ever I think only ten percent of it is truly spontaneous and the other 90% is just the result of what they've been surrounded with and the result of what they've practiced that kind of thing. Now, I want to show you one more cool thing we can do with this as a guitar player. We can take the scale and set it up on one string and then pedal to our Open string. So for example where Annie and the notes here on this string look like this, but after every one of those notes I could pedal back to my open string and I get this nice little effect like that or I could do pull offs to that or I could do a pull off and an extra thick stroke to that.

Or a combination of these things one, two, three, one, two, three one really neat stuff and I can apply that pretty easily into my improvised improvisation just by deciding. Hey, I'm going to start going on one string and I'll try doing some pull-offs and some hammer-ons listen to what that would sound like.

Now this is an extremely brief introduction to the harmonic minor scale and there is a ton we have to talk about we have to learn about the chords of this key and some of the styles that we might hear this and we need to talk about Neo classical music in the Yngwie and diminished arpeggios, but you got to start somewhere. So really all I want you to do if this is new stuff to you is I want you to memorize that formula. How do you build a harmonic? Minor scale recognize that it's a minor scale with a sharp 7. I also want you to know at least that shape that I taught you here, but really try to explore as many shapes as possible and I have a tendency to set up a lot of my shapes three notes per string because I like to shred. I think it's fun to play things really fast. But you know jazz players are going to give you an entirely different shape for this that you might be more comfortable with. So, please explore some other options on that end of things and really what I'm looking forward to teaching you all is about the phrygian dominant scale.

That is the fifth mode of harmonic minor, but you can guess it's going to be a lot easier. Easier to understand that if we understand the harmonic minor scale first, so hopefully all these little demonstrations kind of gave you a taste of what harmonic minor can really sound like we don't hear it a lot in our everyday radio music but it does pop up fairly frequently, especially in the little little spots. You'll usually hear harmonic minor played as just a temporary scale to accommodate one kind of cord and we'll talk about that later on in our future videos, but really today is just about getting comfortable with what is it? How do I play it and a little bit of advice on improvising with an exotic scale like this? So I hope You like this video? If you do like videos like this, I could really use your help on my patreon page. If you can't do that. I understand please just like subscribe and share that's good enough for me. Thanks for watching.

 





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