Learn the C Harmonic Minor Scale

c harmonic minor scale guitar

As an improviser, one of the many guitar scales you will require to hone your craft is the C harmonic minor scale. By learning it well and developing it further, this scale will serve as a strong basis for expanding upon and developing new musical ideas.

Practice is key when it comes to memorizing guitar scales; doing the same pattern over and over helps build muscle memory that makes using that scale easy for improvisation and writing riffs or solos.

Root note

Root notes serve as the starting point for scales, so it’s vital that you can play and derive chords from them effectively to expand your chord repertoire and make jazz chord changes simpler for improvisation.

The root note of the C harmonic minor scale can be found at fret one on your low E string guitar, making it a versatile scale that can be played from any position along its neck. Practice playing this scale from different positions on your instrument to train both fingers and ears!

When practicing moveable scales, ensure your hand moves up and down one fret at a time to practice the scale in ascending or descending order – this will train your ear while building dexterity in both fretting and picking hands.

Next, practice playing the moveable scale slowly on different positions on your guitar neck to familiarise yourself with its sound and enhance your ear for more clear sounds. This exercise should help to train and strengthen your ears for clearer sounds overall.

Another effective method for learning this scale is using tabs to demonstrate its playing. This will give you a good idea of which fingerings to use on each fret of your guitar – be careful to avoid making any mistakes and folding your fingers when playing this scale!

Those seeking to expand their understanding of this scale should practice it both open and closed position. When practicing open position, start playing your scale using your index finger on the first fret before adding subsequent frets with subsequent finger positions until finally playing all three frets at once – this method is highly effective but may prove difficult for some players.

For metal or surf rock fans, the C Harmonic Minor Scale provides an effective tool for adding new sounds to your improvisation repertoire. It can be utilized across many genres, ranging from classical music and jazz improvs all the way through metal and surf rock improvisations.

Scale notes

Harmonic minor is an idiosyncratic scale with its own set of unique qualities to consider when using it on guitar. It works particularly well when applied neoclassically or utilized heavily metal genres.

As its name implies, this scale features a major seventh rather than minor seventh which creates a distinct sound when playing over specific chords. Although only one semitone differs between them, this difference can really make an impactful statement when played correctly.

This is especially evident when playing melody notes; raised sevenths create leading tones, or half steps below the tonic tone, that create tension when used over minMaj7 chords, such as harmonic minor scale. If this causes tension for you when performing harmonic minor scale, find an attenuating note to reduce this strain on the scale and attenuate its effects by attenuating or at least attenuating it through resolution of scale notes.

As it contains two tritone intervals that create more dissonant sounds than regular major or natural minor scales, harmonic minor scale can present melodies with greater difficulty when trying to compose tunes with dissonant tones such as those created by major and natural minor scales. Moving from one tritone interval to the next can feel very abruptly and this can present difficulties when creating melodies.

To practice this scale, begin by playing it ascending and descending order on your low E string of your guitar. Soon enough, you should be able to play it in any key on any fretboard; for added interest try practicing it higher up with some tremolo picking for added variety.


The C harmonic minor scale is a popular choice among guitarists. Similar to C natural minor scale, except with one half-tone/semitone raised at note 7 instead. This gives it its unique sound when played with augmented/decreased chords.

The most basic and easily learned progression for this scale is i-iv-V7. This pattern also allows you to hit C sounds on three separate occasions, making practicing the C harmonic minor scale simpler.

Another simple yet effective progression for the C harmonic minor scale is i-V7-i, which can be performed using either barre or fretless chords. Learning how to play this progression will come in handy for multiple songs that call for it.

Metal genre music often utilizes harmonic minor scale in combination with other minor scales, as the style tends to be heavy with classical influences. Examples of such use can be found in “Masters Apprentice”, “Hangar 18”, and “Far Beyond the Sun”.

When playing songs that use the harmonic minor scale, you must ensure you use it correctly. As it does not sound like traditional western scales, using it improperly could prove challenging and create difficulty when performing.

Once you have mastered the harmonic minor scale, it is time to explore some triads derived from it. Closed voicing triads provide the easiest path towards mastery of this scale’s triads while strengthening finger strength and endurance.

In addition to triads, the C harmonic minor scale can also be expressed through fifth-note triplets – providing guitarists who have yet to master these types of chords with an effective way of developing these techniques. Take a look at our lesson with these exercises in it to see how they could apply to your playing!


The C harmonic minor scale can make an excellent addition to any guitarist’s repertoire. Not only is it distinct from major and natural minor, but its special characteristics will help make your music even more engaging.

C harmonic minor differs from other minor scales in that it features a large jump between scale degrees six and seven, known as a leading tone, to introduce an augmented second interval and produce an unusual sound not found in natural minor or major modes.

If you’re curious about learning this scale, practicing some exercises will help familiarize you with its sound while providing new inspirations for improvising over chords based on it.

Exercise for the C harmonic minor scale include playing it at various positions on the guitar neck, as well as stacking notes in thirds from within it to form chords diatonic with C harmonic minor key. These moveable patterns can also be adapted for other keys and used as an effective means to explore fretboard and develop guitar technique.

Start out by practicing your scale in octaves – that is, play it over both fifth-fret A and seventh-fret B using whatever fingerings feel most natural for you. Play slowly until you become comfortable with how the notes sound.

After practicing scales in octaves, attempt harmonizing it into triads with closed voicings–playing these slowly until they feel comfortable to you. Or combine these triads with eighth-note triplets for an excellent workout on the fretboard!

Once you are comfortable with the triads introduced this week, try incorporating them into progressions like Example 4. This simple yet effective progression illustrates how the C harmonic minor scale can be applied over any minor progression with chords built on the fifth degree.