The Harmonic Minor Primer

For Serious Improvisers of All Levels!

As an essential tool, the Harmonic Minor Scale, along with Melodic Minor and the Major Scale

derived minor modes - Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian (aka Natural Minor) - has been a traditional

favorite among improvisers and composers for expressing minor tonality.


This has been particularly true for the early Bebop pioneers, in that Harmonic Minor - while

possessing several "avoid notes" (as does the Major Scale), also contains all the required diatonic

tonal relationships to form a complete "in house" minor ii-V7-i cadence. This includes a b5 in the

ii7 chord (D-F-Ab-C in C min), as well as the altered extensions b9 & b13 of the dominant V7 (G-B-D-F-Ab-Eb).


While it is common to express a tonic minor (i) chord with a Melodic Minor scale - in order to

"avoid the avoid note" (Ab in C Harmonic Minor) - the interval of an augmented 2nd (Ab - B) thus

created between Harmonic Minor's 6th & 7th scale degrees give this scale its soul and identity.


The minor ii-V7-i examples found transposed to 12 keys throughout the book, all contain

material from that particular key's single Harmonic Minor scale.


Understanding and mastery of the Harmonic Minor Scale system is essential for the improviser at

any level. The material contained within these pages will not only open the door in that respect,

but will potentially keep one in the room of continuous discovery.


Bobby Stern

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