# Blog

# How to Build a Harmonic Minor Scale

May 6, 2020 by Taras (Terry) Babyuk### Introduction

The harmonic minor scale is arguably the most popular of the three minor scales (the others being the natural minor and melodic minor). It is pleasing to the ear but at the same time has a certain melancholic quality, as is the case with all minor scales. In this article, you will learn exactly how to build this scale using two different approaches, with plenty of practice along the way!

## Building a Harmonic Minor Scale

We can approach building the harmonic minor scale in one of two ways: using a formula (pattern of whole steps and half steps) or using a natural minor scale. Let's have a quick look at each of these methods and how they work.

### Method #1: The Formula

All scales follow a specific pattern of whole steps and/or half steps (a formula), and the harmonic minor scale is no exception. For the harmonic minor scale, the formula looks like this:

The "W" with a little arrow pointing up represents a raised whole step, which means we have to go up a whole step plus a half step (1.5 whole steps or 3 half steps). This creates an interval of an augmented 2nd between the 6th and 7th degrees of the harmonic minor scale. If we apply this formula starting on any note, we will always end up with a harmonic minor scale!

### Method #2: The Natural Minor Scale

The other method (which is quicker as long as you are comfortable with natural minor scales) we can use the build a harmonic minor scale is by taking the natural minor scale and raising its 7th degree by a half step. Here is a little graphic that explains this idea:

Yes, it's as simple as that! If you know your natural minor scales well, the only thing you have to do to get the harmonic minor is raise its 7th degree by a half step! This is another reason why it's important to get very comfortable with your natural minor scales. If you have them down solid, you will have the tools to build the other minor scales easily. (To learn more about the natural minor scale, read our post on the topic here).

Now, let's put all this theory into practice by building 3 different harmonic minor scales using the methods we just discussed.

## Putting It to Practice

### Example 1: "A Harmonic Minor Scale"

### 1. Using the Formula

For our first example, let's build the A Harmonic Minor scale using the formula method. Starting on "A", let's start applying our pattern of whole steps and half steps.

"A" to "B" is a whole step, "B" to "C" is a half step, "C" to "D" is a whole step, "D" to "E" is a whole step, "E" to "F" is a half step, "F" to "G♯" is a raised whole step, and "G♯" to "A" is a half step. The result: A Harmonic Minor scale! We can see that this scale consists of the notes "A", "B", "C", "D", "E", "F", "G♯", and (repeated) "A".

### 2. Using the Natural Minor Scale

This time, let's build the same scale using the Natural Minor Scale method. We begin with our A Natural Minor scale, which looks like this:

As we can see, this scale only uses the white keys on the piano. Next, let's find the 7th degree of this scale. Counting from "A", we find the our 7th note is "G". Therefore, we need to raise our "G" by one half step to get the harmonic minor scale! Let's do that.

Raising the "G" by half step gives us a "G♯". And voila - we have our A Harmonic Minor scale!

Here is what the A Harmonic Minor scale looks like written down on the music staff:

### Example 2: "D Harmonic Minor Scale"

### 1. Using the Formula

Let's apply our formula pattern starting from D:

"D" to "E" is a whole step, "E" to "F" is a half step, "F" to "G" is a whole step, "G" to "A" is a whole step, "A" to "B♭" is a half step, "B♭" to "C♯" is a raised whole step, and "C♯" to "D" is a half step. Therefore, the D Harmonic Minor scale is made up of "D", "E", "F", "G", "A", "B♭", "C♯" and (repeated) "D".

### 2. Using the Natural Minor Scale

Let's begin with the D Natural Minor scale, which looks like this:

We can see that our 7th degree here is the note "C", which we must raise by a half step. The result:

Here is what the D Harmonic Minor scale looks like written down on the music staff:

### Example 3: "C Sharp Harmonic Minor Scale"

Lastly, let's try something a bit harder, the C Sharp Harmonic Minor scale.

### 1. Using the Formula

We can see that the C Sharp Harmonic Minor is made up of: "C♯", "D♯", "E", "F♯", "G♯", "A", "B♯", and (repeated) "C♯".

### 2. Using the Natural Minor Scale

Here is our C Sharp Natural scale:

Next, let's raise our 7th degree, which is "B", by one half step.

And here's our result:

### Conclusion

Hopefully you are now more confident with your Harmonic Minor scales. As mentioned earlier - this scale is very common and you are sure to be using it regularly as a musician!

Tip: practice playing a harmonic minor scale from a random note and see how long it takes you to figure it out. The more you do it, the easier it gets!

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