Using Harmonic Minor

Using the Harmonic Minor Scale for Atmospheric Improvisation

As a guitar player, sometimes you don’t want to use flashy technique or work on improving technical aspects of your playing.  You just want to pick up your instrument, relax and let some music flow out of your brain, through your fingers and into your guitar without having to think too much.

This often happens to me (usually late at night), which is when I try to improvise in an “ambient” style.  I’m not sure “ambient” is exactly the right word here; perhaps “atmospheric”, “relaxing” or “calming” would be a better fit.  The word used to describe it doesn’t really matter. I’m talking about a slow, free time improvisation where you are trying to create a mood or a scene, and are not particularly concerned about technical playing.

I find that the harmonic minor scale is perfect for this type of playing. It has that slightly mysterious, almost Eastern feel to it, making it perfect for building a mood and creating and releasing tension.  Mixed in with some chordal ideas (minor chords, minor and makor 7th chords), it can make for beautiful but tense mood music.

Why not have a go yourself at using the harmonic minor scale to create an atmospheric piece of music?

Here is a video of me attempting to do exactly that….

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.


Paul Douglas.