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Thread: Harmonic Minor scale, b5th

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Harmonic Minor scale, b5th

    Hey guys, I've been analyzing a lot of As i Lay Dying's music so i could see what scale and note choices they use to get the dissonant but kinda unique sound they do and im having a really hard time utilizing what i'm finding, much less do i know what the name of the scale is. Its the typical D minor scale but the 5th interval A, they will use Ab instead of G. This gives a really dark tone and they will come back around to a normal D minor riff utilizing the normal G.

    The Eleventh Hour by August Burns Red uses a riff when it kicks in that follows closely what i'm talking about.

    They add a Flat root like a harmonic minor too.. But they have the Ab there i was speaking about. Im having a hard time composing songs around this but i think i just need more practice to get the notes to flow better. Im so use to the normal minor scale and harmonic minor that sometimes its hard trying to get something good to come out when working with this. I understand i should stay away from that G during a passage using the Ab (unless i want a chromatic sound).

    Can anyone shed some insight? What scale is this exactly and it seems they use them as only passing notes and go back to the normal scale sometimes. I've been composing metal songs for the band i'm working with but i want to give it more edge with this kind of sound.

    Any tips?

  2. #2
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Bristol, UK
    Its not all one scale.

    My best guess is a mixture of Phrygian Dominant (which is a mode of harmonic minor) mixed with Mixolydian and an occasional blues note. The droning E ensures that E remains the tonic, therefore there really isn't a "flat root" in the sense you probably mean (this would be an Eb which I can't see anywhere in the tab you provide).

    To me, riffs like this can be easily over-thought. When you search for a scale you are actually trying to fit a harmonic context to the the riff. In this kind of riff-based music this is often not the best way to consider it. To me it is enough to characterise the intervals being played and which ones add which kind of tension.

    The quest for a scale would be more meaningfull to me if there were, for example, organ/piano chords underlying the riff. In this case you would look at all of the chords being used, and try to interpret their harmonic relationship in scale terms.
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  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Sorry but i didn't mention before that the tuning is in drop D so that open note would be a D. True, i understand about the scale, i do believe I've been approaching this wrong as you said and i should pay more attention to the intervals and the sound of the riff. Its just when notes deviate from the normal minor scale it tends to throw me off and i struggle really hard for some reason to put together riffs using the scale and outside notes within another complementary scale.

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