Harmonic Minor Improvisation
In this lesson we introduce the colours and flavours of the harmonic minor scale into our right hand improvisations. Whilst the main use of the harmonic minor scale is to create more interesting harmonic possibilities in minor keys, the scale can also be used for improvisation and is particularly useful to create melodies over minor 251 progressions.
Visualise The b6
We start by playing the scale up and down to visualise the notes and their intervalic relationship. We then add the b6 to our 5-note scale and play this over the descending minor line cliché.
The b6 is an alternate colour to the major 7th from the melodic minor scale that we explored in the previous lesson. Remember that the b6 colour is the distinctive note of the harmonic minor scale.
Well Suited To Minor 251s
The harmonic minor scale can be used to create beautiful melodies over minor 251 progressions. At the end of the first line we have the 251 into D minor. We demonstrate the following concepts to bring out the harmonic minor colour over this progression:
- Chromatic lines and neighbour tones
- Targeting alterations of V7 chord
- Scale run starting on the characteristic notes
- Arpeggio lines of E-7b5
- Bb major arpeggio shape over E-7b5
These ideas can also be used over the minor line cliché so spend some time to explore these techniques and sounds over both the minor line cliché and the minor 251 progression.
In the next lesson we will introduce the blues scale to further develop our improv options over the 251 progressions which are the 251 in D minor moving into bar 5, and the 251 in F major in bars 7 and 8.
The b6 is the characteristic note of the harmonic minor scale.
The harmonic minor scale can be used to create beautiful melodies over minor 251s.
Experiment with chromaticism, neighbour tones, and the licks and arpeggio patterns demonstrated in this lesson.