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HomeHomeTeachersTeachersMichael JohnsonMichael JohnsonUnderstanding the harmonic minor scale..Understanding the harmonic minor scale..
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10/29/2002 6:16 PM
 
Here's a question I email Michael with a while ago. He asked me to post it :)

My question was about the harmonic minor scale. I know the scale contains a natural 7th,
as opposed to a flatted 7th, as in the aeolian mode(Relative minor).
My question is when is that scale used? Can it somehow fit in where the relative minor is used? I figured
that the natural 7th would be dissonant but perhaps I'm not looking at this right,
I'm self taught theory wise, after all :P
Well, there's the question...thanks.
Jalle
 
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10/29/2002 8:47 PM
 
Jalle
That is an excellent question for others to see "when is that scale used?" My answer may surprise you; whenever you hear that it fit in. I know you were asking for a magical formula, but if you are looking to create a gypsy or dark sounding solo you can jump between the Minor (Aeolian) and Harmonic Minor by simply changing the 7th note. The 1, b3 and 5 notes are the main notes of the chord structure, both of the Minor (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7) and Harmonic Minor (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7) share those main notes, everything else is "color" or creating a "mood". "Modes" are actually considered "moods," that's the beauty of scales! If you hear a direction or sound you would like to create when improvising you have the freedom to make subtle adjustments to the scale formula to create that mood. For instance, you have the option of using other Modes as well in this context to change the sound, try recording a minor rhythm and playing each of the scale over to compare the sounds:

Minor (Aeolian) (1), 2, (b3), 4, (5), b6, b7
Harmonic Minor (1), 2, (b3), 4, (5), b6, 7
Dorian          (1), 2, (b3), 4, (5), 6, b7
Phrygian        (1), b2, (b3), 4, (5), b6, b7

The European composer Paganni visualized how the Harmonic Minor/Minor would create illusions of darkness, evil and fear in the mind of the listener. In fact this scale was actually considered by some as the devils music. That illustrates how powerful music can be. I hope this gives you a better understanding on using scales.

Thanks!
Michael J
 
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10/30/2002 8:02 AM
 
Ah, so in truth the only 'mis-notes' that would cause noticable dissonance would be the 1st, 3rd or 5th that 'didn't match'. The other scale tones change the mood of the song but don't need to match up relative to the scale?
That would sort of explain why some intervals that I figured shouldn't fit in thanks to using a note outside of the parent scale, still end up sounding just fine in the song and not causing dissonance :)
Thanks a lot teach.
Jalle
 
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10/30/2002 11:35 AM
 
Jalle, you got it! Now experiement and see what you come up with.

Michael J
 
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11/10/2002 7:15 PM
 
If you don't mind me revisiting an old topic....since you said that tones other than the root, 3rd and 5th of a scale don't cause dissonance, being 'tonal colors'...does that mean if someone throws things like 7th and 9th chords into a progression say...the scale you play over it wouldn't necessarily have to match up to the extra 'colors' of the chord? That question may not have been worded right :P
Jalle
 
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HomeHomeTeachersTeachersMichael JohnsonMichael JohnsonUnderstanding the harmonic minor scale..Understanding the harmonic minor scale..


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