C Harmonic Minor Scale

This article on C harmonic Minor Scale below covers its notes, intervals, scale formulas, patterns on Piano Keyboard and guitar fretboards, guitar tabs, fingerings, modes, triads, 7th chords, etc.

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Harmonic Minor Scale Structure

The scale formulas are used to derive the notes of any scale from their root note. The scale formulas for the notes of any Harmonic minor scale is

{W H W W H WH H} or {T S T T S TS S} or {2 1 2 2 1 3 1}

Where,

  • H, S, W, & T denote the intervals between the notes in half-steps, semitones, whole-steps, and whole-tones.
  • TS & WH is an interval that is not found in any diatonic scale. It represents an Augmented 2nd interval, equivalent to a minor third (m3) enharmonically.

One more formula can derive the notes of the harmonic minor scale. It uses the notes of the parallel major scale as an input. It is as follows:

[1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7]

For comparison,

  • The natural minor scale formula is [1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7].
  • Similarly, the formula for the melodic minor scale ascending is [1 2 b3 4 5 6 7].

Intervals Of Harmonic Minor Scales

The intervals of the notes of the Harmonic minor scale from their tonic note are:

R – M2 – m3 – P4 – P5 – m6 – M7 – R(O).

Observe that the Harmonic minor scale has an M7 interval from the tonic note instead of a minor 7th in the natural minor scale.

C Harmonic Minor Scale Notes

Using C as the first note in the above formulas, we get the notes of the C Harmonic minor scale as,

{C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, B, and C(O)}.

B is the leading tone for the C harmonic minor scale that resolves upwards to the tonic note C (O), an octave higher. The C harmonic minor scale carries two flats. The harmonic minor scale descending has the same notes as ascending.

For comparison, the notes of

  1. C Natural minor scale is {C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, and C(O)}, and
  2. C Melodic minor scale ascending are {C, D, Eb, F, G, A, B, and C(O)}, while the notes of C melodic minor scale descending are the same as those of C minor scale.

The harmonic minor scales carry the key signature of their parallel minor scales. Hence, C Harmonic minor uses the key signature of the C minor scale comprising three flats. The separate accidentals show the raised seventh notes on the sheet music. Also, the relative major key is defined only for the natural minor scales. It is Eb major scale for the C minor scale.

You require six white keys (including the octave) and two black keys to play this scale on the Piano Keyboard. You can see the piano diagram below with the relevant keys marked.

C Harmonic Minor Scale on Piano Keyboard

Scale Degrees

The intervals between the notes of the C Harmonic minor scale, the notes, and the scale degrees, are shown in the table below.

Intervals Root M2 m3 P4 P5 m6M7P8
Scale Degrees12345671(8)
Melodic MinorCDEbFGAbBC(O)

Diagram Of This Scale On The Treble And Bass Clef:

The notation diagrams of the C Harmonic minor scale ascending and descending are shown below, showing its notes on the treble and bass clef.

Treble Clef:

C Harmonic Minor on Treble Clef

Bass Clef:

C Harmonic Minor on Bass Clef

C Harmonic Minor Scale Guitar Positions

To play any harmonic minor scale, you can use the five patterns based on the CAGED patterns. The combined layout of these patterns on the complete fretboard is shown below.

You can see the complete C Harmonic minor scale in one line from fret 3rd to 15th on String 5.

C Harmonic Minor Scale Up to 15 Fret

The five individual patterns are shown in the diagrams below. The main characteristics of these diagrams are also detailed below.

C Harmonic Minor Scale Patterns

1st Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: E open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 5th to 9th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Three.
  4. Lowest root position: 8th fret on the 6th string.
C Harmonic Minor - E Shape

2nd Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: D open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 7th to 11th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Three.
  4. Lowest root position: 8th fret on the 6th string.
C Harmonic Minor - D Shape

3rd Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: C open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 10th fret to 14th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Two.
  4. Lowest root position: 10th fret on the 4th string.
C Harmonic Minor - C Shape

4th Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: A open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 12th to 16th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Two.
  4. Lowest root position: 15th fret on the 5th string.
C Harmonic Minor - A Shape

5th Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: G open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 3rd to 7th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Two.
  4. Lowest root position: 3rd fret on the 5th string.
C Harmonic Minor - G Shape

Practicing The Scale Patterns

The recommended fingerings for the five patterns are given in the diagrams below. You can modify them if you are comfortable with slightly different patterns.

C Harmonic Minor Scale Fingerings

What Are The Chords Of The C Harmonic Minor Key?

The chords formed from the seven notes of the C Harmonic minor scale, their chord qualities, and Roman numerals designation are given in the table below.

Scale Degrees1234567
Chord DesignationiiidimIII+ivVVIviidim
Chord NamesCmDdimEb+FmGAbBdim
Chord QualityminordiminishedAugmentedminorMajorMajordiminished

The following triad chords result from the C Harmonic minor scale.

  1. Two major chords – V and VI – G major and Ab major. The V chord (G Major) is the dominant chord for the scale.
  2. Two minor chords – i and iv – C minor and F minor chord.
  3. One Augmented chord – III+ – Eb Augmented chord.
  4. Two diminished chords – ii° and vii°, Ddim and Bdim.

The seven triads, their note names, and their intervals are shown in the table below.

Scale DegreesIntervalsChord NotesChord Name
1R – C – m3 – Eb – M3 – GC – Eb – GCm
2R – D – m3 – F – m3 – AbD – F – AbDdim
3R – Eb – M3 – G – m3 – BEb – G – BEb+
4R – F – m3 – Ab – M3 – CF – Ab – CFm
5R – G – m3 – B – M3 – DG – B – DG
6R – Ab – M3 – C – m3 – EbAb – C – EbAb
7R – B – M3 – D – m3 – FB – D – FBdim

What Are The Seventh Chords Of The C Harmonic Minor Key?

The following seventh chords naturally occur in C Harmonic minor scale.

  • C Minor Major 7th Chord – Cm(M7) – imM7 – [C Eb G B].
  • D Half Diminished 7th Chord – Dm7b5 – iiø7 – [D F Ab C].
  • Eb Augmented Major 7th Chord – Eb Major 7#5 – bIIIMaj7#5 – [Eb G B D].
  • F Minor 7th Chord – Fm7 – ivm7 – [F Ab C Eb].
  • G Dominant 7th Chord – G7 – V7 – [G B D F].
  • Ab Major 7th Chord – AbMaj7 – VIM7 – [Ab C Eb G].
  • B Full Diminished 7th Chord – Bo7 – vii07 – [B D F Ab].

The Modes Of The C Harmonic Minor Scale.

The seven modes of the C Harmonic minor scale are:

  1. C Harmonic minor or Aeolian #7. The mode has structure [1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7], hence known as Aeolian #7. It has notes [C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, B].
  2. D Locrian #6 – The structure is [1 b2 b3 4 b5 6 b7], and the notes are [D, Eb, F, G, Ab, B, C].
  3. Eb Ionian #5 – The structure is [1 2 3 4 #5 6 7], and the notes are [Eb, F, G, Ab, B, C, D]. This is also known as the Eb Augmented Major mode.
  4. F Dorian #4 – The structure is [1 2 b3 #4 5 6 b7], and the notes are [F, G, Ab, B, C, D, Eb]. This is also known as the F Ukrainian Dorian or Altered Dorian mode.
  5. G Phrygian #3 – The structure is [1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7], and the notes are [G, Ab, B, C, D, Eb, F]. This is also known as the G Phrygian Dominant mode.
  6. Ab Lydian #2 – The structure is [1 #2 3 #4 5 6 7], and the notes are [Ab, B, C, D, Eb, F, G].
  7. B Super-Locrian scale bb7 – The structure is [1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 bb7], and the notes are [B, C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab]. It is sometimes referred to as the Altered Diminished mode also.

Conclusion

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