Harmonic Minor Scale: Theory & Ear Training

music notation for c harmonic minor scale ascending

The Harmonic Minor Scale is one of many existence proofs that scales are not made up of half steps and whole steps…

C Harmonic Minor Scale Theory…

  1. The scale structure of the Harmonic Minor Scale is always 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-7-1, no matter what key you are in.
  2. The Solfege syllables of the Harmonic Minor Scale are always Do-Re-Me-Fa-So-Le-Ti-Do, no matter what key you are in.
  3. The only thing that changes when you change keys are the letter names.

Comparative Scale Study

Notice that all minor scales use the same [five-note] penta-scale: DoReMeFaSo.

The only notes one needs to fuss over are b6(Le), 6(La), b7(Te), and b7(Ti).

Play and sing the Natural Minor Scale and Harmonic Minor Scale side-by-side, slowly enough to hear the melodic-harmonic difference between Ti and Te. Pay special attention to the unique pull each note has toward Do.

Ti has an extremely strong melodic-harmonic pull towards the key center Do. This attraction is so strong that it is called the leading tone because it leads the ear back to the key center Do.

This particular minor scale is called “harmonicbecause Ti is the tension-filled tone that defines the dominant (V) chord. The V chord is essential to making the overwhelming majority of European classical music tick. We will learn more about this when we study chord progressions. That said, this does not mean that the “natural” and “melodic” minors are “un-harmonic” or that the harmonic minor is un-melodic or un-natural!

Harmonic Minor Scale Solfege Ear Training

Reading, playing, and singing the Solfege Syllables out loud is an extremely effective way to tune up your ears and to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in the scale with respect to the key center Do. Make sure to do this slowly enough for the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege Syllable to make a meaningful impression on your mind’s ear.

C Harmonic Minor Scale: Linear, Ascending…


C Harmonic Minor Scale: Linear, Descending…


C Harmonic Minor Scale: Do-X-Do, Ascending…


C Harmonic Minor Scale: Do-X-Do, Descending…


Note: While it’s possible to continue by singing a bunch of other musical patterns, the 80-20 Principle teaches us that a more efficient approach is to get your ear training material directly from the music that YOU want to play!

learn more… Mixolydian Scale: Theory & Ear Training

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