Diminished lines...

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by flavaham, Dec 18, 2017.


  1. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    Hey guys, I've taken some time off of here but have been checking some stuff out the past few days. Lots of good stuff! I forgot what a great resource this page can be!

    Anyhow, on to the thread - I've been using diminished ideas for a long time but I feel like mostly I just grab diminished arpeggios and slide up or down a half step here and there. It gets monotonous and boring in my opinion. I've always had a hard time playing these scales (H/W and W/H) without them sounding like patterns AND (and this seems ridiculous) have a hard time keeping track of where I am in the pattern. I think it's because without the root as an anchor I'm just thinking in terms of shapes and not notes. This becomes very "unmusical" in my opinion.

    So, I recently started to make a more conscious effort to be aware of what I'm actually playing when it comes to these lines. For the W/H scale, I know my root and then I have these scale/chord degrees: 1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 6 7 For some, this might seem more complicated, but it has me playing more interesting lines out of this scale and overall just seems more musical.

    For the H/W scale, you get more of an altered thing. You get 1 b9 #9 3 #11 5 6 b7 There is a m7 and Dom7 chord in there if you want them. Obviously a dim7 as well. So this scale works super well over dominant chords. I think using that m3 rather than a #9 is less desirable than looking at this as some form of dominant 7 chord, but it's there either way.

    So basically, for my money, I get a more dominant sound out of the H/W scale and more of a dark, kind of unresolved minor (obviously diminished) feel that you can kind of lean on with the W/H scale.

    Bottom line is that I'm playing much more musical lines out of diminished scales since this change in perspective. I'm not sure why this type of approach isn't talked about more (maybe it is?). Any thoughts? I feel like diminished lines elude some so maybe a decent conversation starter?
     
  2. StevenA

    StevenA Member

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    It is easier for me to manage diminished scale intervals when I cut them in half. Each segment is identical only a tritone away. For example:
    1 b9 #9 3 - 1 b9 #9 3
    When playing altered, I'm referencing tritones anyway, so for it makes more sense.
     
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  3. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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  4. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Keep in mind half whole is used over the root of a 7th chord. Whole half off the root of the diminished chord. You have to keep it in context of the progression. It can get confusing!
     
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  5. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    Ok, good call right here. I haven't done this but this makes sense. Cut the scale in half, know your tritone. That could work as well. I think for me it's a point of reference. I don't do well with shapes. I do well knowing things relative to a static concept. IE - Major scale and go from there, know the altered notes. That's what jives with me. I'll look at this next time I play.
     
  6. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    If I'm only grabbing one of these, which one?
     
  7. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    Right. So are you referring to a diminished chord acting as dominant for H/W? I'm not sure of a whole lot of applications where diminished chords aren't trying to resolve somewhere.

    One exception for me is a recent vamp I've been playing over that is basically taking a somewhat ambiguous chord that contains notes from the diminished scale (D# A E G# C# over almost 2 octaves, bass is accenting E and G) and playing an Edim W/H scale over it. It's not leading anywhere. It's static.

    So, as I think I was saying, H/W for dominant. W/H for dim7 chords that don't act as dominant (seems pretty rare). Right?
     
  8. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Well...I kind of always look at it as half whole, because that scale tone is there anyway, so even on a static dim chord (I think Mike Stern has a song that kind of does that) I almost always treat it as half whole. Descending by a half step is the hardest for me, and depending on the tune, I hear it different ways. Quiet nights (A-7, Ab dim, G-7) I hear and play as A-7, E7b9, G-7, while Body and Soul (Cmaj7, Ebdim, D-7) I hear and play as Cmaj7, Cdim7, D-7, so it may be the melody guiding me, but its the same notes when going down a half step in any case! However, I usually dont play a straight diminished scale when it goes up a 4th, but will alter the 5 as well, so its more an altered scale with a flat 9.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
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  9. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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  10. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    I think Robben Ford made good use of that book (after he'd finished with Mickey Baker).
     
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  11. StevenA

    StevenA Member

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    As long as diminished lines deliver an ear tweaking tonality, consider playing H/W W/H and altered segments of their scales in derived intervals. For example, you could move 1 b9 #9 3 up in minor third intervals, but you would still get the same scale, so move it up in maj 3rds, or down in whole steps. You get some notes you didn't bargain for like the maj 7 and 9, but it's always the strength of the line that matters.
     
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  12. StevenA

    StevenA Member

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    If you are playing blues in G, at bar three you can start your descending line in whole steps; G Ab Bb B, F Gb Ab A, Eb E Gb G, Db D E F and then E on the first beat of C at bar five.
     
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  13. JonR

    JonR Member

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    You just need to work from the chord tones. The scale forms chromatic approach notes, a half-step below, whether it's a dom7 or a dim7. That's why it's HW for dom7s and WH for dim7s.

    G7(9) = G B D F Ab. Add A# C# E. That's the G HW dim scale. (You already have G as approach to Ab, and don't want F# ;).)
    Bdim7 = B D F Ab. Add A# C# E# G. That's the B WH dim scale.
    Same scale, obviously!

    The chords function the same, in that both lead to either Cm (as normal harmonic minor chords) or to C major (borrowed from minor).

    The dim7 is then a "leading tone chord" (vii), not strictly a dominant (V), although it does have a dominant function.

    Dim7s can have at least one other function, which is the "common tone diminished". So Bdim7 can be used to resolve to B major (more likely than Bm).

    The third usage is where the dim7 moves to a chord whose root is a half-step below a note in the dim7. Usually this is to the ii chord in a major key, often following the I or iii. Bdim7 in that case would be found in the key of Ab major, between Cm7 (or Abmaj7) and Bbm7. It's debatable whether this is really a distinct third kind of usage, because you could say it's vii of the preceding Cm7.

    But in all these usages, the WH dim scale works simply because it's chromatic approach notes to the chord tones (hardly really a "scale" at all).
    That's definitely weird! And I'm guessing there's a typo, because they don't all come from one diminished scale. G-G#-A? (It's E major scale apart from the G.)
    I.e., ignoring the G# in the chord? ;)
     
  14. Megatron

    Megatron Member

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    Working through it right now.
    Going through the triad pairs next.
     
  15. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    There are lines going straight down the scale however, where the scale tone and not the chord tones are placed on the strong beat. So its not all about the leading tones. They do act as specific colors.
     
  16. ivers

    ivers Member

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    Some very nice voicing combinations within the diminished, that at least to my ears don't scream diminished..as an example I've harmonized it here as a descending chord sequence that resolves in C major:

    -15--13--12--10--9--7--6--4--3----------------------------------------
    -11--11--8----8---5--5--2--2--3--------------------------------------
    -13--12--10---9---7--6--4--3--2--------------------------------------
    ------12-------9-------6-----3--2------------------------------
    ----------------------------------3-----------------------
     
  17. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    Yeah, I think that was supposed to be a G, not G#.
     
  18. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Agreed - at least in the case of the HW dim on the V7. I'm not sure how much they count as extensions on a common tone diminished.
     
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  19. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Pat Metheny live with Diorio on "How Insensitive" is a great example of tastefully playing over the diminished chord that resolves down a half step. Masterful! One of my favorite solos of Pats. You dont hear the diminished chord spelled out like so many guys do. It disappears in one smooth flow of lines! Beautiful!!
     
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  20. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    The chord in question (that I eluded to earlier and @JonR questioned a typo) is as follows and played on a keyboard over about two octaves, the first and third notes being the furthest apart -

    C# G D# A E Bb F#

    So, all out of the E W/H or Eb H/W diminished scale. Basically, an E dim7 chord in the right hand and an Eb/D# Dim triad in the left.
     

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