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Introducing the Harmonic Major scale I: Following the Melodic.


Now when I say introducing, I am referring to the art of placing it into a piece of music.

The Harmonic Major scale is a slightly more complex and ambiguous scale that the ones we have looked at so far, Melodic and Harmonic minor. Its formula is 1 2 3 4 5 b6 7 and as you can see its b6 means it is often thought of as a Major scale with a b6, but it is often thought of as a Harmonic minor with a Major 3rd.

This ambiguity continues when studying the uses of Harmonic Major. It is usually found in certain situations and we will look at the first of these in this post, following the Melodic scale. Its ambiguity means that after the change from Melodic, it leads to two possible places of resolution, acting as either the scale on I or as the Dominant on V.

Both examples below use Melodic rule 2, raising the C Major scale root leads to the D minor key/chord on degree II. The Harmonic Major is then reached by raising the root of mode IV of D Melodic (G Lydian7) to get G# Locrianbb7, mode VII of A Harmonic Major.

Now this is where the ambiguity occurs, because of its formula, the A Harmonic Major scale can resolve to the key of A Major or D Major. If it is resolving to A Major, the F just needs too change to F# and I have finished with a V- I in A Major just to complete the change, (shown in Ex. 1).

Example 2 has a G natural following the A Harmonic Major as the change is to D Major, but the F is still present so briefly returns to D Melodic before the F# changes it to D Major where it resolves.

This is only the first place that the Harmonic Major appears and as you can see it is useful because of its ambiguity, the rule being Melodic mode IV with the root raised makes mode VII of Harmonic Major. ( I discuss the shorthand way of writing this and where the relevance of raising and flattening notes comes from in the book, which is too large a subject for a facebook post).

Next we'll look at how the Harmonic Major works with the Harmonic minor scale.


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