Diminished lines...

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


  1. JonR

    JonR Member

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    :bonk:brick
    So shouldn't that be D# F# A - E G Bb C#? The way you've written it is more like an A7b5 (or Eb7b5) in the left and F#7 in the right.
    Not that it matters. Either way it's a non-functional chord (two "avoid note" intervals, aside from too many notes anyway), and obviously the scale that fits is the scale the chord is made from! That's a no-brainer! scale=chord=scale.
    Zero application in any kind of real music that I'm aware of. (OK, I don't play much Stravinsky....)
     
  2. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Thanks, I'll check that out.
     
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  3. gennation

    gennation Member

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    This type of line or scale is placement, not notes. Just use half steps into chord times to start a line. So, beat one gets a chord tone, but the “and” of beat four before it gets a half from that chord tone. It can be as difficult as you want to make it, or very simple. It can be considered a scale, or just as leading tones. The better you get at it, the further away from beat one you can start.

    Learning that you are playing into something as opposed to over something makes these scales seem more musical than scale-ular.
     
  4. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    This is huge. Much of what is considered "modern jazz" is just chromatic patterns leading into chord tones. Great post.
     
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  5. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I don’t remember where I learned it from but that was the most important lesson for me in using a logical scale that I had known for years and could never use in my playing. It totally made sense too when I heard it, and yes, it sounded like all the modern players I was listening to. It was simple, just play ahead of beat one and it sounds like you are going somewhere. As long as you hit that chord tone on beat one it didn’t matter where you came from, it always sounded like I knew where I was going.
     
  6. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    The first 8 bars of the melody of our old buddy, Moon Germs, take advantage of the diminished scale.
     
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  7. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Yep, and on any beat, targeting any chord tone or extension you want to accent. If you listen to guys like Mike Stern, Bob Berg, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkle and others, they all have their own, (and many of the exact same) patterns proceeding notes of choice. Most are based off of or derivatives of a single rhythmic pattern I believe Coltrane first used a lot. Michael Brecker LIVED on it, and its instantly recognized in Pat Methenys chromatics. I think most guitar players grabbed it from early Pat Martino. Hes the first guitar player I know of who used it a lot.
     
  8. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    I have to get this asap.
     
  9. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    It is played w/ D# F# A in the left hand and E G Bb C# in the right but the notes are played in the order that I wrote them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  10. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    I think my point in approaching the diminished scale in the way originally mentioned is to actually avoid half step motion. Maybe I didn't make that clear, but it's part of it for me. Diminished lines always sound practiced to me because when people grab that diminished scale they just seem to run it up or down. I was falling into the trap of just using the dim7 arpeggio with half step embellishment because of this. but it got boring. I think symmetrical scales are a trap in this regard. So, my point was to start to think about bigger intervals.

    Look at it this way - if you heard someone playing over a simple G C D progression and just running up and down a G major scale, it would get very boring in a hurry. You need to have some variation of intervals or it's just running a scale. Why is this not the case for so many players when it comes to diminished (and other symmetrical) scales? So, in thinking in terms of the intervals of the scale (1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 6 7 for W/H) you can be better equipped to grab a note that isn't a half step or even a whole step away. You could use that M6 interval (for example) to get to a new spot in the scale and from there, who knows? I guess this also assumes that you know where all of these intervals land all over the neck but that's something that makes pretty good sense to me, so this approach seems easier than some others I guess.

    So, yeah, my point was that thinking in these terms has opened up the diminished scale for me. I don't like to practice scales in the traditional ways for fear of practicing during my lines in a band situation. So, long story short (hahahahaha) - Because this is a symmetrical scale, I never really gave it the attention that it deserves and it seems that I may not be alone there. Anyone can grab a scale and run it. Who can play it as music?
     
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  11. randalljazz

    randalljazz Member

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    slightly off topic, but i find it easier to make melodic sounding lines by treating diminished chords as 7th mode of harmonic minor (or harmonic major). not as "modern" sounding...and some effort required to puzzle them out individually, rather than relying on the easy movability of symmetrical patterns. ymmv, of course...
     
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  12. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    That definitely works. Cool sound!
     
  13. tdh

    tdh Silver Supporting Member

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    I"ve been looking into getting more comfortable with the diminished world too.
    I've been going through
    Understanding the Diminished Scale by
    Walt Weiskopt.
    Jamey Aebersold has it and a few others on the dim scale on sale a few weeks ago.
    I like it. Doing around 20-30 min a day.
    -
     
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  14. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    Nice! How's it working for you?

    Honestly, just looking at this with fresh eyes has opened up a ton of stuff for me. I love that I can play a diminished line now without sounding like I'm regurgitating a handful of practiced lines!
     
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  15. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

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    When people start talking about diminished chords here I'm usually one of the first to say look at the arpeggio, not the scale. That said, there is a lot of cool stuff in that whole/half scale, lots of interesting patterns. Take this one favored by Coltrane (from Slonimsky?):

    Bb13b9
    1)6-4
    2)-----5-3--8-6----------5-3
    3)-----------------6-------------3----------6
    4)---------------------9----------------6
    5)
    6)

    Those are basically 7b5 arpeggios, first Bb7b5, then G7b5, repeating. Maybe @JonR or someone will have more insight, but that's how I hear it.

    The thing about lines like that is they usually aren't played over a diminished chord. I mean, you probably wouldn't play that line over bar 6 in a blues, for instance. Understand, anytime you have a dom7 you can usually sub a dim chord, or often on a tonic chord you can sub that chord's V7, and then imply that diminished chord, so that's how we're getting to these sounds. In these instances you're usually getting further away from the chord/arpeggio in a functional sense and more into the sound of the pattern you're creating and where it's resolving to.

    And yes, there are a ton of interesting intervalic combinations to play off of in that scale. My go to is the b9, which you can use on any of the root arpeggio's tones. For example, over Bb7 again:

    1)
    2)-------8
    3)
    4)5-6
    5)
    6)

    Right there are a tone of cool lines waiting to happen.

    1)
    2)-------8-11-9---------8
    3)
    4)5-6-------------8-9
    5)
    6)


    But you can do that with any of the chord tones:

    1)-------9
    2)
    3)6-7
    4)
    5)
    6)

    1)
    2)-------11
    3)
    4)8-9
    5)
    6)

    1)-------12
    2)
    3)9-10
    4)
    5)
    6)

    And yes, I will often do something like this:

    1)----------------------------------9------------12
    2)------8---------11
    3)-------------------------6-7-----------9-10
    4)5-6-----8-9
    5)
    6)

    Kinda chessy, but has it's uses.
     
  16. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    I'm not as concerned with the function of the chord for this particular idea. This is more about vision for me. I can't "SEE" the scale on the fretboard without a point of reference, so just a shape, even symmetrical, doesn't do the entire job for me. So when I put the scale tones into a numbered situation (b9, #9, #11, etc.) then I begin to see it more clearly and don't have to anchor to the root every time. That's really all this is about for me.

    The use of diminished chords/scales is another study entirely, one in which you should be at least slightly versed before bothering to dive into these scales, in my opinion. For me, they are usually used to create tension and a situation where strong resolution will result in a good dynamic moment. Dominant harmony is what makes music interesting for the most part. Major and minor sound nice and all, but it's tension that creates movement in music. So, basically, having this in the toolbox is like adding colors to your pallet. Major/Minor are black and white. Dominant is where your color comes from.

    Again, just grabbing that V7 chord in a major progression can be nice and all, but it still can lack character. In the event that you sub in a diminished idea, maybe using the H/W scale from the root of the V7 chord, you get the b9, #9 and #11 - notes that you would not get to if you stayed with a diatonic idea.

    Finally, as for patterns, one thing I learned early on about the diminished scale (H/W or W/H) is that the E strings and B strings mimmic each other, meaning the same patterns happen on both strings. This was for a time the only way I knew how to break out of just playing a diminished arpeggio and actually try to create a musical line from the diminished scale. This new idea (new for me) has me seeing other options.
     
  17. russ6100

    russ6100 Member

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    This was life-changing for me years ago, too bad I have no idea where the transcription that I made is...

    Use the triads contained in the diminished scale - you'll make melodies and if with a bit of care, the symetric nature of it won't have to be obvious.

    At around 7:50 into this video, Kenny Garrett starts to improvise on a static A minor vamp that they stuck in the middle of "Human Nature".

    All the stuff he plays is A minor / A blues stuff, so it's easy to hear context.

    Just after the 9:05 mark, he plays this line out of nowhere - it's out but it has this logic. When I first heard it, I had to know what it was.

    You can think of this in A diminished (W/H) or really any W/H or H/W that fit's. I found that thinking in terms of B H/W diminished worked well if you're camping at the "A" box at the 5th fret. Just move up to the 7th fret for this. All the notes will be in reach from here.

    He runs up a sequenced B maj triad, then you hear an Ab maj triad, followed by an F maj triad. Then it's just a chromatic line up to the root (A), then another little descending chromatic sequence.

    You don't have to play entire triads - play 2 notes from one, 2 notes from another. Know that for every min 3rd interval, there's another one 1/2 step away, so side-slipping is easy, and you're still within the scale (or not if you so choose). Here's the vid:

     
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  18. StanG

    StanG Supporting Member

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    PSA. Amazon has moon germs and the farrell Benson record available for free streaming in their entirety for prime users.
     
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  19. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    It's crazy how casual he is about it too! haha, I'd be about to pop a blood vessel trying to think in these terms and he's just strolling around like it's nothing! lol
     
  20. russ6100

    russ6100 Member

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    If you woodshed this stuff enough it becomes 2nd nature, just like anything else.

    How much thinking goes into playing the bluesy stuff? It can be the same with diminished stuff.

    Just time on the instrument.

    It also helps to have a rather sparse accompanyment at first...
     
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