Harmonic Minor Scale Chord Formula Sequences

21 July 2017

I probably should just refer to chord sequences that just use this scale like Dm7b5 - G7 - Cm, but I think that is a probably a bit of a dead end for most people.

With it you could learn a Gypsy Jazz tune or some quaint traditional number, but what good will that do, unless you want to learn Gypsy Jazz of course - which is great - check out Nuages from the Rosenberg Trio. Kills me every time. It is not exclusively Harmonic minor but it's worth a mention at every chance.

Generally speaking, songs do not use this scale or it's chords exclusively. Instead, the chords or notes are borrowed and put in to a 'Major Scale' song for effect.

Make up a chord sequence using the chords from the Major Scale.

Using the key of C, I chose C, Am, Em, F.

That would be a I vi iii IV chord sequence.

Well, the vi chord would be the natural minor. A minor.

A common trick is to 'borrow' the Harmonic minor's V chord.

That would be E (check out Harmonic minor Scale Formula.

The chord sequence I ,ade up uses Em. So I swap it for my borrowed chord (E Major).

Now it is C, Am, E, F.

The vibe is cooler, and has a bit more about it.

So, I can think of it like this:

The iii chord in the Major scale can be converted to a Major chord for a cool effect.

If I do that, then I just add the Harmonic minor scale based on the 6th note in the scale.


Yes, it sounds like a lot to take in, but put it in to practise. It will soon start to make sense.

Soon, you will understand and it then say, 'well, why didn't you say it like this...'.


So in playing that chord sequence I thought it sounded like Where is my Mind by the Pixies.

The chord sequence I made up uses the C Major Scale.

Where is my Mind is in the key of E

The chords from the key of E are:

  • E
  • F#m
  • G#m
  • A
  • B
  • C#m
  • D#dim

Make the iii chord Major (III):

  • E
  • F#m
  • G#
  • A
  • B
  • C#m
  • D#dim

Now play the chords based on the chord formula:

I vi iii IV: E, C#m, G#, A

Third Chord is Major

Tune in to the sound it gives you. All of these songs make the iii chord Major (III)

  • Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding (Key of A)
  • Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis (key of C)
  • Nobody Home - Pink Floyd (Key of C)
  • Back to Black - Amy Winehouse (Key of F)
  • Creep - Radiohead (Key of G)


So this is just an intro. Take your time with what is written, and investigate the scale.

Create a 3 Notes per String Scale shape to kickstart your licks featuring this scale.