The Harmonic Minor Scale and Augmented Intervals / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Learning About a New Scale

This time, we will take a look at the new scale mentioned in our 51st and 52nd articles.

The information from our previous articles below will be necessary so be sure to brush up on your knowledge.

14. Tritone and Augmented Intervals

27. Scale degree names

49. Scale Degree Names – Natural Minor Edition

Harmonic Minor Scale

This new scale contains the note that leads a half-step up to the tonic – aka the leading tone – by turning the b7 to a 7.


Lets see what this new scale is called.

This scale is also called a harmonic scale.

The (natural) minor scale had a very “natural” tonality to it.
Perhaps it is because it was born naturally from human instinct for sound.

Now we have the harmonic minor scale.

The name for this chord relates to the 5th diatonic chord (V V7) that contains the leading tone and tritone interval.

❇︎ These are all chords made from the tonic, subdominant, and dominant notes so they may be written as T, SD(S), or D as well.

This allowed us to add powerful tension and release (similar to a major key) while still having that melancholic or cool sounding progression.

This function was added into the minor scale to make it more “singable” in a song.

The harmonic scale allows you to better identify a key with it’s powerful dominant quality as well.

Harmonic Minor Scale Degrees

Lets take a look at the scale degrees of the scale types we’ve seen up until this point.
The advantage of memorizing scale degrees, is that if you know the major scale, you can simply change some numbers in the major scale to create whatever scale you’re after.



Numbers for the major scale
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (8)

In this case,
the natural minor scale would be
1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 (8)


In relation to the major scale, the harmonic scale turns the minor b7 back to the 7 (be aware that it is not #7).
As the image shows above, it contains the 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7 8.

The Issue with the Harmonic Minor Scale

Up until now we’ve looked at 2 different minor scales.
Before learning 1 more, lets take a look at the issue with the harmonic minor scale.

❇︎ There is no reason you can’t use it because of this issue nor do we imply that one way is better than the other. There are songs that use the movements below.

The issue with the natural minor scale is it’s weak sense of resolution due to the lack of a leading tone.

What issue exists with the harmonic minor scale?

We won’t feel much of an issue with the phrase below.


In our 51st article we mentioned a distinct sound found between the b6 and 7th. Lets pay attention to this sound and listen again.

  • C Harmonic Minor Scale

C D Eb F G Ab B (C)
1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7 (8)

The b6 and 7 create a very “arabic” style sound.
This motion is often found in middle-eastern music and hold a strong importance, but it is not as common in western styles of music.


This is because of the Augmented 2nd interval that we haven’t seen in our other scales yet.

C Harmonic Minor Scale

We will keep this characteristic and info in mind for now.

Next time, we will take another look at how to use minor diatonic chords.

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.