Skip to content
Notifications
Clear all

Harmonic Minor

6 Posts
4 Users
0 Likes
1,766 Views
(@wishus)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 53
Topic starter  

I'm sure that my terminology is far from perfect, but I believe I have a good understanding of modal composition. I understand why and how D Dorian is different from A Minor. They are both "minor" sounding, and use the same notes, but they have a different tonic and a different feel.

What throws me off is Harmonic Minor.. in the above example, D Dorian and A Minor have the same "scale pattern," just rotated to a different starting position. Harmonic Minor has different "scale pattern," and where I get lost is what happens if you "rotate" it and use a different note as the tonic.

For instance, I'm writing something and all the notes from the melody (and harmony) come from the C Harmonic Minor scale. However, I know that C is not the tonic. I think that it is B. It sounds good, but I don't understand why.

Third Take a blog about home recording


   
Quote
(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

There's a difference between tonality (the notes you use) and modality (the tonal center) which can be really confusing. It's one reason most guitarists don't really use modes... they just think they do :)

The named modes are from early church music - about 1,000 years ago - and the concept of modes goes back at least twice as far, to ancient Greece. Altered minor scales are a comparatively modern invention; they've only been used for about 400 years. The 'modes' of the altered minor scales don't have accepted names yet.

It sounds good because you're establishing tonality, playing notes in C harmonic minor. It sounds different from C harmonic minor because you're shifting the tonal center.

Because of the big gap in the harmonic minor - the augmented second between the 6th and 7th notes - the harmonies of a harmonic minor are going to be more 'tense' than those of the major scale. You end up with more diminished sounds than the major, and the augmented sound on the III that's not present in the major. I'd be a bit surprised if you can resolve that tension without taking your melody up to C at the end :)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
ReplyQuote
(@wishus)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 53
Topic starter  

Thanks NoteBoat, that made sense. I'll have to figure out the notes in the vocal melody and let you know how I resolve it.

The chords I'm playing are:
G | G | G | cm |
G | G | cm | G |

I sing something in the first bar, and the second bar has a guitar part that goes: B C D Eb D C B.

I am surprised that no one has named the "modes" of altered minor scales. Maybe that will be my contribution to humanity. :P

BTW, I've been a lurker for a while and I really appreciate the time you've spent on here dishing out theory. I've learned a lot from you, and you're $80/hour cheaper than my previous instructor. :lol:

Third Take a blog about home recording


   
ReplyQuote
(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 646
 

The song is in G major, with a minor substitution on the IV chord. This is quite common. Notewise, you are using a b6 (Eb) in place of the more usual 6 (E).

The melody starts in B, the major 3rd. This is very common.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
ReplyQuote
(@wishus)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 53
Topic starter  

It's definately not major.

Third Take a blog about home recording


   
ReplyQuote
(@alex_)
Honorable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 608
 

you can see it as different scales aswel

A minor, (natural minor), shifted to D is D Dorian, Shifted to F, is F Lydian, shifted to E, is E Phrygian..

A harmonic minor.. shifted to E, is E Spanish Phrygian, or Phrygian Dominant.. and changed to D it wont be D Dorian, it will sound sort of the same (excusing the aug2 gap)


   
ReplyQuote