E Harmonic Minor Scale

In this article on the E Harmonic minor scale, you can learn about the brief music theory, notes, intervals, triads, 7th chords, modes, layouts on the Piano keyboard, and the guitar patterns with tabs and fingering recommendations.

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Harmonic Minor Scale Structure

The main purpose the Harmonic minor scale was created was to serve as the foundation of the harmonies in the minor keys. Hence, it was aptly named the Harmonic minor scale. Its function is to strengthen the weak resolution of the natural minor scale.

As you may know, the 7th of a natural minor scale is a subtonic. A subtonic note is a whole tone or two-half steps away from the octave. This lowers its tendency to resolve to a tonic note at the octave.

This Harmonic minor scale is constructed with its 7th note in line with the major scales resulting in a leading tone. This is done by raising the 7th note of the Natural Minor scale.

This change results in a dominant V major chord and a viio diminished chord, which translates to a Dominant 7th and fully diminished 7th chords naturally, as we will see in the section on chords. You can technically consider this change akin to borrowing a chord from a parallel scale or mode.

The scale formula for the 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}

In this formula,

  • H, W, S & T represent the half-step, whole-step, semitone, and whole-tone intervals.
  • WH and TS represent an interval of 3 semitones, an Augmented 2nd interval enharmonically equivalent to m3.

This Augmented Second interval provides the characteristic exotic sound of the Harmonic minor scales. If you want to use the notes of the parallel major scale to derive the notes of the Harmonic Scale, you must use the below formula.

[1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7]

The formula shows that the notes of the Harmonic minor scale can be obtained by lowering the 3rd and 6th degrees of the parallel major scale by a half step.

Intervals Of Harmonic Minor Scales

By using the above formulas, you can derive the intervals of the Harmonic minor scales. The intervals are as follows.

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

Notice the M7 interval from the tonic note, which is the raised 7th as against a minor 7th in the natural minor scale.

The melodic minor scales have raised sixth and seventh notes from their natural minor counterparts.

E Harmonic Minor Scale Notes

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

{E, F#, G, A, B, C, D#, and E(O)}.

D# is the leading tone for the E harmonic minor scale that wants to resolve to the tonic note E(O), an octave higher. The notes of E harmonic minor carry two sharp notes.

Harmonic minor scales do not have separate key signatures. They use the key signature of the parallel natural minor scale (E minor scale in the present case) on the sheet music. Accidentals are added to denote the raised seventh notes.

On the same lines, the relative minor and relative major scales are defined based on the natural minor scales. There is no major or minor scale having the same notes as those of any Harmonic minor scale. They form relative pairs only with their own modes.

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 by red circles.

E Harmonic Minor Scale on Piano Keyboard

Scale Degrees

The intervals between the notes of the E 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 MinorEF#GABCD#E(O)

Diagram Of This Scale On The Treble And Bass Clef:

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

Treble Clef:

E harmonic Minor Scale on Treble Clef

Bass Clef:

E harmonic Minor Scale on Bass Clef

E Harmonic Minor Scale Guitar Positions

To play any harmonic minor scale, you can use the five patterns derived by carrying out the minor modifications in the regular CAGED patterns. The combined layout of these patterns on the complete fretboard is shown below.

You can see the complete E Harmonic minor scale in one line from fret 2nd to 14th on String 4.

E 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.

E Harmonic Minor Scale Patterns

1st Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: E open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 9th to 13th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Three.
  4. Lowest root position: 12th fret on the 6th string.
E harmonic Minor - E Shape

2nd Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: D open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 11th to 15th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Three.
  4. Lowest root position: 12th fret on the 6th string.
E harmonic Minor - D Shape

3rd Pattern

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

4th Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: A open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 4th to 8th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Two.
  4. Lowest root position: 7th fret on the 5th string.
E harmonic Minor - A Shape

5th Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: G open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 7th to 11th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Two.
  4. Lowest root position: 7th fret on the 5th string.
E harmonic Minor - G Shape

Practicing The Scale Patterns

The recommended fingerings for the five patterns are given in the diagrams below. In the diagram, 1 stands for the index finger, 2 for the middle finger, 3 for the ring finger, and 4 for the little finger, respectively. You can modify them if you are comfortable with slightly different patterns.

E Harmonic Minor Scale Fingerings

What Are The Chords Of The E Harmonic Minor Key?

The chords of any Harmonic minor scale are built by stacking the intervals of thirds (major or minor) over the root note. Every scale degree is made the starting note of one such chord.

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

Scale Degrees1234567
Chord DesignationiiidimIII+ivVVIviidim
Chord NamesEmF#dimG+AmBCD#dim
Chord QualityminordiminishedAugmentedminorMajorMajordiminished

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

  1. Two major chords – V and VI – B major and C major. The V chord (B Major) is the dominant chord for the scale.
  2. Two minor chords – i and iv – E minor and A minor chord.
  3. One Augmented chord – III+ – G Augmented chord.
  4. Two diminished chords – ii° and vii°, F#dim and D#dim.

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

Scale DegreesIntervalsChord NotesChord Name
1R – E – m3 – G – M3 – BE – G – BEm
2R – F# – m3 – A – m3 – CF# – A – CF#dim
3R – G – M3 – B – m3 – D#G – B – D#G+
4R – A – m3 – C – M3 – EA – C – EAm
5R – B – m3 – D# – M3 – F#B – D# – F#B
6R – C – M3 – E – m3 – GC – E – GC
7R – D# – M3 – F# – m3 – AD# – F# – AD#dim

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

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

  • E Minor Major 7th Chord – EmM7 – imM7 – [E G B D#].
  • F# half Diminished 7th Chord – F#m7b5 – iiø7 – [F# A C E].
  • G Augmented Major 7th Chord – G Major7#5 – bIIIMaj7#5 – [G B D# F#].
  • A Minor 7th Chord – Am7 – ivm7 – [A C E G].
  • B Dominant 7th Chord – B7 – V7 – [B D# F# A].
  • C Major 7th Chord – CMaj7 – VIM7 – [C E G B].
  • D# Full Diminished 7th Chord – D#o7 – viio7 – [D# F# A C].

The Modes Of The E Harmonic Minor Scale.

The seven modes of the E Harmonic minor scale are:

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

Conclusion

The article above presents all the important aspects of the E Harmonic minor scale. If you need more information or clarifications, feel free to write to us in the comments section below.

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