Watch the Week 7: Harmonic Major | Introduction online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Modal Mother Lode Alpha

The Harmonic Major Mode

The harmonic major mode introduces the perplexing modal system with this parent scale offering. Once again you have a mode with a single alteration, a double tritone, and that (now) infamous 1-1/2 interval - this time between the b6th and major 7th degrees. It starts off innocent, but ends exotic and it goes like this:

1 2 3 4 5 b6 7

Just like other scales in the harmonic minor and major modal systems, it's the 1-1/2 interval that immediately piques your audible interests, but at the same time mucks up your conventional fingerings when playing any one of these modes. That said, make sure you keep aware of the fingering recommendations I make throughout all three style ideas.

The Rock Lick
Harmonic major will have you fingering the b6 degree in two different locations. Check out the Performance video and then get the scoop behind what I did in the Breakdown & Analysis video. This version of the Rock Lick will end with a Csus2b6 that was intentionally voiced with both a b6 and P5 ensuring the b6 is not mistakenly heard as a enharmonic 5th.

The Funk Vamp
The double tritones bring back the diminished 4th deal-io, which cause a marginally difficult fingering scenario when it comes to the 2nd and 5th degree stacks in the first half of the call & response sections. The second set of eight bars will drop a modally related 2nd inversion major triad built from the 3rd degree that helps really drive the intended vibe of harmonic major. Just like the Rock Lick, the ending chord ensures the b6 gets its just due in the voicing with a 3rd position Cmaj7b6.

The Blues Solo
Of all the blues solos in this course, The harmonic major rendition has the sweetest melodies to these TrueFire guy's ears. The I chord lick idea especially grabs me. The b6 and the horizontal approach create similar melodic instances as Ionian #5; most notably when playing over the IV chord. As always, make sure you're applying the intended phrasing inflections in your playing. It's not about just learning these modal sounds, it's also about learning to play them!