What is a Harmonic Minor Scale?


Harmonic minor scales are definitely my favorite type of scale – the harmonic minor scale.  I mean, major scales are nice and all, but there’s something so spicy and mysterious about harmonic minors, and it has everything to do with that raised 7th!  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, definitely check out today’s video – hooray for music theory!

And in case you missed them, here are a couple videos that tie into today’s:
How to tell Major and Minor Scales Apart: A bit of backstory on regular (natural) minor scales

A Natural Minor Scale: One of our examples today builds on “A” natural minor, so be sure to check out this quick video first!

Natural minor scale – a review

So let’s review the type of scale that we learned previously, the NATURAL minor scale. So C major scale shares a key signature with A minor scale – there are no sharps or flats. Today we’ll talk about harmonic minor scales, which is a variation of the natural minor scale.

A natural minor scale

Here are the notes of the A natural minor scale, just to visualize. No sharps or flats, just like C major scale, it’s happy twin. To transform this to a harmonic minor, all you have to do is take the 7th note (G) and raise it a half step. Now it’s G# instead of G.

E harmonic minor scale

Here are the notes of an E harmonic minor scale. Since it’s the evil twin of G major, it has an F# in the key signature. now to transform it to a harmonic minor, find that 7th note, and raise it a half step. Voila, a D#.


And that, my friend, is how a harmonic minor scale is built – by raising the 7th note of the scale half a step. It’s amazing how much of a difference that can make to the sound!


Allysia has been teaching piano in Canada for nearly a decade, and has her Grade 10 RCM certificate. She especially enjoys nerding out to music history and theory. When she’s not making videos or teaching, she’s reading, writing, and jamming in a rock band.