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August Issue
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Digging Deeper: Inside the Harmonic Minor Scale

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We juxtapose augmented and major triads for Fig. 7. It imparts the feeling of an oxymoronic, but peaceful uneasiness. Very psychedelic.

The funky three-chord jam in Fig. 8 takes Zappa’s “Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progression” a little more outside.

E Phrygian dominant is probably the most commonly used mode of the harmonic minor scale. Fig. 9 conjures up images of southern Spain and flamenco dancers.

This haunting harmonic atmosphere (Fig. 10) is ethereal and yearning. It never wants to resolve to a specific chord, and though it’s often used in new age music, you can also find examples in instrumental shred.

The Super Locrian scale is aggressive and dissonant. When working through the vamp in Fig. 11, think of Les Claypool and early Primus.

Though some of these progressions might sound a bit strange at first, give them a chance to grow on you. Perhaps you rarely hear them because they sound strange. Or maybe they sound strange because you rarely hear them. Either way they are worthy of your time, study, and curiosity. If one of the jobs of musicians is to make “new” music, why not really do your best to make something new? I’m not saying you should play weird or strange just for the sake of doing it, yet there’s much to be gained by experimenting. And who says you have to subject the world to your experiments? Practice these in the privacy of your home. You can decide later if you want to unleash them on the world at large. Play weird! Make mistakes. Who knows? You might learn something.

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