Harmonic Minor Scale and Modes

     Before we dive in, it is important to understand how this scale can be built. The harmonic minor scale stems from a need to have a leading tone in a minor scale that naturally doesn’t exist. In essence, the harmonic scale is a minor scale (Aeolian mode) with a raised 7th degree, in order to create a stronger resolution to the tonic. For that reason, sometimes you may see the harmonic scale referred to as being an Aeolian #7:

     By raising the 7th degree, an augmented 2nd (with 1 ½ steps) is created between the 6th and 7th degree, which gives this scale a distinctive and exotic flavor.

     As we did before, the same procedure is applied in order to get the modes from the harmonic scale; which is to change the root by inverting the scale and using the same exact notes of that particular scale. Again, each mode will have a different modal feel and, in the table below, you will see how each mode is built and their respective names:

A Aeolian #7 A Locrian #6 A Ionian #5
A Dorian #4 A Mixolydian b2 b6 (Phrygian Dominant) A Lydian #2
A Locrian b4 b7 (SuperLocrian)

     Again, you should develop the knowledge of modes and the sensibility to how each sound so that according to each musical context you decide when and how to use it.

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