1. The Rules have been updated regarding posting as a business on TGP. Thread with details here: Thread Here
    Dismiss Notice

Diminished Scale/Chord help

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Tone, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. Tone

    Tone Member

    Messages:
    608
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    I was reading a lesson in GuitarONE mag about Diminished scales. I was wondering when can you actually apply these? Do they only work over diminished chords? How far from the V7 chord should it generally be played? Half step, whole step, other?

    Also, say you are playing in something like Am Pentatonic, and you end your lick on Ab and slide into A. Does this type of thing always work?

    I posted this elsewhere, but I got back so many different views on it, that it was getting really confusing.

    Thanks!

    :dude
     
  2. lhallam

    lhallam Member

    Messages:
    15,836
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    Lost
    I use it all the time over all kinds of chords. I don't follow the rules quite often and sometimes it's a trainwreck, but more people stop to look at a trainwreck than one on it's tracks anyway.

    Both renditions work over a dominant 7th.

    The whole step 1/2 step works better over a min 7th because it doesn't introduce a major 3rd. Fripp has been known to play a M3 over a minor chord so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    These aren't hard fast rules, but simply what I do sometimes.

    Just try it out and find you're own voice.
     
  3. bobbymack

    bobbymack Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,485
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    The diminished scale is nice for connecting the I and IV chords in the blues, among other things.
     
  4. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

    Messages:
    2,509
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2004
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    As for practical application, a common usage is in bar (measure) #6 of a twelve bar blues. Typically, bars #5 and #6 contain the IV chord; a diminished application a half step above the root of the IV in bar #6 lends nice tension before resolving back to the I in bar #7 (regardless of whether underlying harmony actually contains a diminished or half-diminished chord). In the less common eight bar blues format (such as "Key to the Highway"), this IV-I move would occur in bar #4.

    I use diminished sounds (as well as augmented sounds) all the time over static dominant 7th chords, but it's a matter of taste (or in my case, lack thereof), as to what tweaks the ear in a pleasing way. Personally, I don't care as much for diminished "scales", and prefer the more angular sound of diminished "arpeggios" (as applied sparingly, with bending, nuance, and chicken grease).

    It probably goes without saying, but diminished tonalities basically repeat themselves in increments of minor thirds, while augmented sounds cycle in major thirds.
     
  5. Tone

    Tone Member

    Messages:
    608
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Thanks, Tim!
    So are you saying that if the chords are C, F, G. You would play a F#diminished chord in place of the F7 in bars 5-6?
     
  6. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

    Messages:
    2,509
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2004
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Hi Tone,

    For the application we're talking, I would treat bar #5 as "F7" (for example, F mixolydian), and bar #6 as F# diminished, with stong resolution back to the I (C) in bar #7 (in Western harmony, the third [E, for the key of C] is always the srongest chord tone resolution).

    That said, I don't always approach bar #6 as ----> "look out, time for diminished up a half step!" - you get what I'm saying. It's merely a harmonic device that presents itself as a possibility to the ears. I think it's a good idea to try this stuff out academically when practicing at home, but for life on the bandstand, it's best to assimilate these ideas over time, and let them fall naturally within your playing, in a less contrived and mechanical manner. Hope that helps.
     
  7. bobbymack

    bobbymack Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,485
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    Well said Tim!

    As a point of simplification, given that the diminished tones repeat in minor thirds, couldn't one think of the I or root chord's diminished scale for bar #6 rather than the sharp IV's?

    For simple fretboard illustration, let's play blues in G. The IV chord here would be C7 on fret 8, and the sharped IV would be C# on fret 9, six frets up from the I chord on fret 3. If the scale is movable every three frets, basically the same diminished scale is on fret 3 as on fret 9, yes? So you can play Gdim (or C#dim) runs in bar #6, resolving strongly as you suggest to root chord tones in bar #7?
     
  8. meterman

    meterman Member

    Messages:
    7,382
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
    Location:
    ATL
    Tone, I just picked up that magazine too for the first time mainly for that article, and I am pleasantly surprised! Anyway, everytime I hear someone play diminished and augmented stuff I'm like "that's it! What was that?", it just sounds so fresh and interesting weaving in and out of tension and release...I'm very excited about learning to incorporate some of these moves into my improv as I feel like that's somewhere I've been wanting to go for a long time but have never been quite sure how to get there....

    A somewhat humorous story, regarding when and where to try new stuff....about 12 years ago I got a chance to play 3-piece with a well known local drummer who's successful blues band (The Urban Shakedancers) had just broken up. Me & the bass player had come from another blues/rock band who had always been about 3 steps behind the drummer's old band in terms of ability, "authenticity", success, etc so we kinda had something to prove. Well, I had just read a GP article by Robben Ford about incorporating diminished stuff into blues and was all hot to try some of it. I thought we were just jamming, but it turns out the drummer was looking at it more like an audition, and didn't appreciate my clumsy efforts to use diminished runs over the changes on a slow blues!! That, plus the tone of my 130w Music Man stack on 1 at living room volume :rolleyes: and it was all over....

    Moral of the story: don't try to play "out", until you've already shown that you can play "in" :D
     
  9. littlemoon

    littlemoon Member

    Messages:
    857
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2003
    Location:
    Corona, CA
    Shouldn't that be identified as a "G# diminished scale" (whole-half diminished) or a "G dominant diminished scale" (half-whole diminished)? Of course, it's the same scale, beginning on different roots, but it gets confusing unless you use the correct nomenclature.

    littlemoon
     
  10. Tone

    Tone Member

    Messages:
    608
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    What's the difference between Diminished and Dominant Diminished scales? Is one just half/whole, and the other whole/half? Thanks for all the help, guys! It's been a lot easier learning from this thread, than searching for Diminished theory lessons. I have'nt come across a good diminished lesson site yet.:dude
     
  11. littlemoon

    littlemoon Member

    Messages:
    857
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2003
    Location:
    Corona, CA
    Yes. The "dominant-diminished" is the half-whole scale that begins on the root of the dominant chord over which it is played. The diminished scale is the whole-half scale that begins on the root of the diminished chord over which it is played - usually 1/2 step above the dominant chord being substituted by the diminished chord. Note the close relation between a dominant chord and the diminished 7th chord 1/2 step above it - i.e., G#dim7 is essentially a G7(b9).

    Some people find that it helps to think of the scale as a "dominant-diminished" in the same key as the dominant chord over which it is played, rather than "thinking changes" by substituting the dominant chord with a diminished 7th chord 1/2 step above the dominant and then playing the "diminished scale" over that substitution.

    littlemoon
     
  12. littlemoon

    littlemoon Member

    Messages:
    857
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2003
    Location:
    Corona, CA
    By the way, you might want to check out Don Mock's "Symmetrical Scales Revealed" for a concise yet illuminating study on the diminished and whole tone scales, sequences, and arpeggios and their use over static and functioning dominant chords and in various 2-5 progressions.

    littlemoon
     
  13. EricT

    EricT Member

    Messages:
    1,010
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2003
    Location:
    Norway
    I use the half/whole diminished scale all the time to get outside over one chord vamps, or 7th chords in general. This is something I've picked up from John Scofield, he uses this scale a lot.
     
  14. fusion58

    fusion58 Member

    Messages:
    3,717
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Location:
    Murrieta, CA
    The dominant diminished (half/whole) scale is a good scale to use over a dominant chord with an altered ninth and a natural 13th (6th.)

    Why?

    Here are the intervals of the diminished half/whole scale:

    1, b2(b9), b3(#9), 3, #4(#11), 5, 6(13), b7

    Here is the dim half/whole scale starting on E:

    E, F, G, Ab, Bb, B, C#, D

    (Note: there is no one correct enharmonic spelling for this scale. In other words, it's OK to use either sharps or flats.)

    As you can see, all the notes used to build the following altered dominant chords are present in the dim h/w scale:

    E7(b9) = E, G#(Ab), B, D, F

    E7(#9) = E, G#, B, D, G

    E13(b9) = E, G#, B, C#, D, F

    E13(#9) = E, G#, B, C#, D, G

    ...etc., etc.

    So, whenever I see one of these chords in a piece of music, I automatically think dominant diminished (which isn't to say dominant diminished is the only scale choice...but that's for another discussion.)

    How to get started using this scale?

    1) Learn the fingering patterns for the scale - familiarize your ear with the sound of the scale (and with the sound of the scale against the aforementioned chord types.)

    2) Learn melodic lines and phrases built from the scale (whereupon you will begin to make music with the scale as opposed to merely running up and down the scale.)

    I'll bet there are some people on this forum who are willing to share cool diminished lines they know. ;)

    Good luck!

    :cool:
     
  15. jeffh

    jeffh Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    816
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2002
    I just gave that a try... very cool. The band I play in hosts an open stage night. We get lots of 12 bar stuff and I get tired of hearing myself play :) Thanks for something new !!
     
  16. bobbymack

    bobbymack Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,485
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    Yep, my bad. Right idea, wrong words....

    Thanks for clarifying.
     
  17. stan p

    stan p Member

    Messages:
    1,067
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2003
    Here is a hint for using dim chords:

    Take a C7 chord in III position as a base. Starting from 5th to 1st string, the notes in the chord will be C, G, F, E, G.

    To make C#dim out of it - move your finger on the fith string from C to C#. Keep other fingers in the same position.

    Try a classic II-V-I turnarround in C. This will give you the following chords - Dm7, G7, Cmaj7. Then try inserting a C#dim between Cmaj7 and Dm7.

    Try playing A7 instead of C#dim.

    Another hint ... PLay A7 in Vth position on 1st four strings (G, C#, E, A). Now move The finger on A to A#. This will give you another dim chord. Try moving it back and forth ...

    I hope this helps...

    Stan P.
     
  18. Tone

    Tone Member

    Messages:
    608
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Thanks for the tips, Stan!
    So by moving just the root note a half step up, you can get a diminished chord?
     
  19. stan p

    stan p Member

    Messages:
    1,067
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2003
    YES. By moving root of any 7th chord get a dim 1 semitone above.

    A7 -> A#dim.

    Diminished chords have one interesting property that generate many rules of chord use and substitution. They are made of equal intervals, - three minor thirds!

    Take any dim chord and try moving any note of it 1 semitone down - what r you gonna get?
     
  20. Tone

    Tone Member

    Messages:
    608
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    The Dominant 7th chord of the note you flatted by a semitone!?:dude
     

Share This Page