Chord Harmonization over Minor Scales



Introduction

Chord Harmonization over Minor Scales

If you need to remember what chord harmonization is visit our page on harmonizing chords over major scales. Although there is only one Natural Minor scale, there are two other Minor scales that are also widely used: The Harmonic Minor scale and the Melodic Minor scale. These scales exist for historical reasons and we will leave its explanation for another time. For now you need to know is how to construct these scales.

Harmonization in the Natural Minor Scale

The natural minor scale is a diatonic scale which consists in transposing the major scale in 3 halftones. Their ranges are:

(2) (1) (2) (2) (1) (2) (2)
Chord Harmonization over Minor Scales

These numbers represent the number of semitones in each interval. So the C Natural Minor scale is:

C D Eb F G Ab Bb

Using the same technique that we used in the section on harmonizing chord Major scale, we get the harmonized chords in the Natural Minor scale:

Cm Ddim Eb Fm Gm Ab Bb

This rule applies to all natural minor scales:

minor diminished major minor minor major major

curious note: shift the major scale harmonized chords 5 halftones and you get the harmonized chords for the natural minor scales. ever heard of the circle of 5ths ? (more on this later).

Harmonization in the Harmonic Minor Scale

Not all authors consider the harmonic minor scale a diatonic scale, because it does not result from transposition of the Major scale. This scale arises because the natural minor scale is not suitable for many types of music due to its antiquated sound. The Harmonic Minor Scale is constructed from the following halftone intervals:

(2) (1) (2) (2) (1) (3) (1)

Example in C:

C D Eb F G Ab B

The harmonized chords in the minor Harmonic C scale are:

Cm Ddim Eb(aug) Fm G Ab Bdim

The augmented chord Eb aug results from the fact, in order for the 5th of the Bb chord to fit the scale, the 5th has to be augmented The resulting pattern applies to all harmonic minor scales:

minor diminished augemented minor major major diminished

Again, this pattern applies to all scales.

Matching the scale Melodic Minor

Some composers consider the augemented interval on the 2nd interval of the harmonic minor scale too dissonant, so frequently it is replaced it with a full interval. The result is the melodic minor scale, which is characterized by the following intervals:

(2) (1) (2) (2) (2) (2) (1)

Example in C:

C D Eb F G A B

The harmonized chords in the melodic minor C scale are:

Cm Dm Eb aug F G Adim Bdim

This pattern applies to all melodic minor scales:

minor minor augmented major major diminished diminished

 
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