Private Guitar Lessons - All ages accepted - Beginer to Advanced
For more information and scheduling, contact Diablo.

- Sample lesson below -


- The Harmless Harmonic Minor Scale -

 

There are so many wonderful scales out there. My personal favorites are the "exotic" scales. This should be obvious when listening to any of the Labyrinthe music. One of the most commonly used is the Harmonic Minor Scale. At alot of shows, I get asked "How do you have your guitar tuned?" I love this questions. And I love telling them "It's standard tuning. Just a unique scale."

Anyone that knows me knows that I usually don't talk much, but when I get started, I've always got some long drawn out story to go with whatever I'm talking about at the time. I figure this online lesson should be no exception. :)

- THE LONG DRAWN OUT STORY -

At some point in the early 90's, a friend of mine named Phillip Quinn was going on a hunting trip. Sort of a weekend getaway kind of thing. While he was gone, he let me borrow his Ensonic EPS keyboard. The reason being that I'd been having my first ever classical ideas stomping around in the old attic and the Ensonic's built in recording capabilities would really help to bring them out. Now, I'd been playing guitar for years at that point but didn't know how to read music. There wasn't much need for it in the rock bands and such. I was very familiar with guitar tablature but sheet music? No way....

After setting out to find these notes and patterns I was hearing on the keyboard, I started making headway and decided that I needed to notate my first classical-esque piece. (Which could probably hold the record for the worlds shortest string quartet, but hey you've got to start somewhere.) I learned the basics of reading / writing music that evening.... I had to. Now because I was just learning and didn't know alot about sight reading, key signatures and the like, I notated my piece in some unknown key signature that I laughed at years later. This unknown key signature had all Naturals except for G, which was sharped. The funny part is that there is no key signature with one G #.

Years later, I was exploring the mysteries of the Harmonic Minor Scale I'd heard about from my old guitar teacher. Imagine my surprise when I found that A Harmonic Minor has one sharp, and it's a G. Now, it might not be a key signature but this told me that what I was hearing in those early stages was in fact A Harmonic Minor. Revelations are wonderful. :)

To this day, I use it to no end in Labyrinthe and will continue to I'm sure. It's a beautiful scale and I'm going to share it with you here. Enjoy.

Most lesson layouts use C as an example. For this, we'll use A because it works so well with open root notes and is the relative minor to C major. The notes of the Natural A minor scale are as follows:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A

Notice that there are NO sharps or flats. Just like the C major scale. This makes the A minor and C major scales relative. Now, the notes of the A Harmonic Minor scale are:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G#, A

Let's start at the 5th fret. (Top string.) The following is an easy pattern of the Harmonic Minor. Let's start with ascending the scale.

 

 

Tell me you can't hear the uniques-ness of that G# and I'll eat a bug....

Now, let's do the same pattern but descend the scale. Like so:

 

 

After working on ascending and descending a bit. Let's go ahead and play the pattern ascending AND descending.

 

 

Just running the scale conjures up visions of vast deserts, camels and the like. Get creative with the pattern. Try running the notes from the high E, B and G strings using the lower open D, A and E strings for bass. You'll be surprised at the sounds coming out of the guitar I'm sure. As an example of this, I'm going to share a new Labyrinthe song that we're going to start performing soon.

It's tentatively called "The Messenger." because when we were doing music for Middle Tennessee State University's production of "Arabian Nights" it was used in a scene where a messenger runs back and forth across the planet several times. It utilizes the above pattern and uses Mainly open A and D strings for bass while the melody stays on the high E, B and G strings. Don't let the notes ring too much. Clip them off in staccato fashion for a nice effect.

 

"po" stands for "Pull-off."

 

And there you go. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into a different yet beautiful scale. Remember to get creative and stay that way. :) Experiment constantly. If you are in the Nashville area and think you'd like to learn more. Drop me an E-MAIL to schedule some lessons.

Be well.

Diablo.