Harmonic Major

Welcome back! In this lesson I will be covering the harmonic major scale, which is also referred to as the Ionian b6 scale. Because it is a major scale with a flatted 6th or a harmonic minor scale with a natural 3rd, the formula is, (1 2 3 4 5 b6 7). This scale is most common in jazz, but can be applied to any style of music. In this lesson, I included the modes of the harmonic major, the diatonic triads and 7th chords. Also, I included some of the other possible chords that are inside the harmonic major scale.

Applying the Harmonic Major

The harmonic major scale has unique chords in it and it can be related to the harmonic minor as well as the major scale. For example, If you are playing a major or a major 7th chord, instead of playing the IV major, turn it into a IV minor and if you add the 7th it would be a min(Maj7th) chord. You can make the two chord a diminished or a min7b5, like it is in a natural minor scale. Also, the five chord is dominant, like the major and harmonic minor scale. An example chord progression from this scale can be, I, IV minor, III minor, II min7b5, V7. In C major it would be C, Fm, Em, Ddim, G and if you add the 7th it is, Cmaj7, FmMaj7, Em7, Dm7b5, G7. This is just one example out of the many possibilities you can create. Try soloing over this using the C harmonic major scale. By just changing the one note in the major scale, you can get some great sounds from this scale.

Fingering Patterns

Example 1 and Example 2 in the diagram are the three-note per string fingering patterns off the 6th and 5th strings. Of course, learn them in all possible fingerings and in all keys all over the neck.

MP3 - Harmonic Major - Example 1
MP3 - Harmonic Major - Example 2

The Modes

Harmonic Major - 1 2 3 4 5 b6 7
Dorian b5 - 1 2 b3 4 b5 6 b7
Phrygian b4 - 1 b2 b3 b4 5 b6 b7
Lydian b3 - 1 2 b3 #4 5 6 7
Mixolydian b2 - 1 b2 3 4 5 6 b7
Lydian Aug #2 - 1 #2 3 #4 #5 6 7
Locrian bb7- 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 bb7

(see example 3 for the chart for the arpeggios)

MP3 - Harmonic Major - Example 3

Chord Scales (triads)

1. Major - Aug - Sus4 - Sus 2
2. Dim - Locrian 1 4 b5
3. Min - Maj - Aug
4. Min - Dim - Lydian 1 #4 5
5. Maj - Sus 4 - Phrygian 1 b2 5
6. Aug - Dim
7. Dim - Locrian 1,4 b5

Chord Scales (7th chords)

1 - Maj 7 - Maj7 b6 - Maj7 sus4
2 - Min7b5 - Dim7th
3 - Min7th - Dom7th - Aug 7th
4 - Min(Maj7) - Dim 7th - Dim (Maj7)
5 - Dom7th - Dom7th Sus4
6 - Maj7#5 - Dim 7th - Dim (Maj7) - Maj7b5
7 - Dim7th

Musical Examples

The harmonic major can be easy to apply to your playing. Example 4 begins with just a regular A blues scale and then it resolves into a C harmonic major scale. The C harmonic major is just one note different from the A minor scale, the A is flat. Also, an A harmonic minor scale has a G# in it as well, which is another scale you can weave into.

MP3 - Harmonic Major - Example 4

If you start with the root and play every other note of the scale, you will get the third pattern. M-m-M-m-m-m-M, which is a C Maj11 (#5) arpeggio. Example 5 is a 4 note sequence based on that arpeggio built from the scale and then in the second bar it descends down a 5 and 4 note pattern inside a F Dim (Maj7) arpeggio (F, Ab, B, E).

MP3 - Harmonic Major - Example 5


That is it for this lesson! We will cover more of the harmonic major scale in the future. Be sure to make up your own examples and visit www.mikecampese.com for more information!

Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

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