Question on diminished

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by billstets, Aug 9, 2006.


  1. billstets

    billstets Member

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    Let me preface this by saying that I know basic diatonic theory (major scales and modes), blues based music theory and some other scales (harmonice minor etc.), but I have not yet studied jazz!!

    I wrote an instrumental that I'm working on recording. It's mostly a simple vamp in Am (dorian actually) with a main theme in the beginning and the end (is that called a head?). There's also a transition section that's used a few times and the first four bars use some phrases based on what I think is a diminished arpeggio. The notes are F#, A, C, Eb. I believe this is a diminished arpeggio for each note in the phrase, right?

    So my question is regarding the chords used behind the phrases in this transition. I settled on something that I think sounds ok, but I hope there's not some bad dissonance happening that I can't hear. There is some obvious dissonance, which makes sense when you analyze it, but it so far it sounds ok to me.

    The first note of the phrase in the first bar is F#, the 2nd phrase A, the third C and the 4th also C. The first three phrases go up and the 4th goes back down. I wanted the chords to kind of descend as the phrases ascend. The chords I have been using are the dom7#9 (Jimi Hendrix chord) descending chromatically from F# in bar 1, to F, to E and then in the fourth bar Eb to E. Eb7#9 is really almost a passing chord as it goes back to E7#9 after 1/2 a bar.

    When I compare these chords to the related diminished scale, using the diminshed scale of the note that starts the phrase (for lack of any better approach that I'm aware of), I get some funky dissonance on paper. In the first bar, the chord (F#7#9 = F# Bb E A) has the 3rd (Bb) and dom7 (E) of F#, which are not in the F# diminished scale. The chord in the 2nd bar (F7#9 = F A Eb Ab) seems to have only notes that are in the Adim scale (b6-1-b5-7), but it's a strange chord (I don't knowwhat you'd call it!) in comparison to that scale. And the the chord in the 3rd bar (E7#9 = E Ab D G) has the 3rd (E) and 5th (G) of C, which are not in the C diminished scale. I'll treat the Eb7#9 in bar 4 as passing chord, since it lasts for 1/2 a bar and goes bak to E7#9, but then bar 4 has the same "problem" as bar 3.

    I was attempting to create some tension and dissonance in this passage, but have I created any "unmusical" dissonance here? Sorry for being so longwinded, but this the best way I can describe it.
     
  2. willhutch

    willhutch Member

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    Billstets, I started to analyze your post, but I don't have the time. But respectfully i say it doesn't matter what anyone would say in response to your post. If it sounds good to you, then it sounds good to you! You may be creating some unorthodox harmony that violates rules of classical harmony. But hey, that's creativity at work!

    Don't worry about "dissonance you can't hear" and don't worry about sticking to the diminished scale.

    I wish I could hear your piece, the way you intend to play it!

    I'm sure this isn't the the kind of answer you were after! Sorry!
     
  3. billstets

    billstets Member

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    Thanks. I know's it difficult to analyze these things. Since I'm not an advanced jazzer, I guess I worry a little when I stray from the orthodox. I've got a great drummer and keyboard player for it, and I'm doing the guitar and bass parts. I think it has great potential, even though it probably borrows heavily from the Allmans! But hey, I'm not looking for a record deal. It's all for fun!
     
  4. HarryJ

    HarryJ Member

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    First off "unmusical dissonance"? .... nah.... rules are meant to be broken IMHO. If it sounds good to you... work it!

    I see diminished arps and chords as having 2 very common usages.

    1. Static Dim: this is where you place a dim7 chord on the same root as another chord ie... your Am and A dim arp. It functions as a temp passing chord, and jus' plain sounds cool. Much like the intro to "Red House"

    2. 7b9 Dim Sub: This is when you place a dim7 chord on the 3,5,b7, or b9 of a dominant chord. Usually used as a V7 I or i transition. Like your E7#9 back to the Am (V7 i Min) dim7 chord built on the G#,B,D or F will resolve beautifully back to the Am as it is really just a sub for the E7b9(#9) But that would be a F dim, not F#.

    I was trying to make sense of your last paragraph... but it's too early in the morning :) I'm guessing that your usage of the dim is more in line with option 1... anyway... we are back to ... if it sounds good work it!

    Harry Jacobson
    www.harryj.net
     
  5. HarryJ

    HarryJ Member

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    Yea... what he said ... I'm a slow typer :)

    HJ
     
  6. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I don't have my guitar and it's too early to comprehend all the verbage but MAYBE I can help...

    one way you can visual the Diminished chords are that they are built from a W-H tone or a H-W tone scale basically.

    A Diminished chord can be built from EACH of those notes of those scales!

    There are common uses for substituting Diminished chords for Minor chords and Dominant chords...

    The F#dim7 could sub, or add harmonic tension/extension, to a Am7 all day. This is very common in Gypsy jazz as well as many other places. So, ANY dim7 chord built from the 6, R, b3, or b5 from the minor chords perspective is an option. Experiment to taste for sure.

    Try vamping between ||: Am7 | Am6 | Am7 | Am6 :|| then try ||: Am7 | F#dim7 | Am7 | F#dim7 :||.

    I think you'll hear how the F#dim7 fits in there. In that example you could almost say the F#dim7 is a sub for the Am6, but the Am6 is really a possible sub for the Am7...so the F#dim7 can work for either.

    Now the dim7 chord is often used as a sub for a Dom7 chord too. You can play a dim7 chord from the b7, M3, or 5 of a Dom7 chord. This will give you the b5 the b9 the #9 and 13 depending which note you build it from.

    When you do this you are basically playing some type of altered chord against the original root.

    Now let's get back to the W-H tone scale you build dim7 chords from...try playing a G W-H tone scale over the A7 chord. This will give you the altered sounds mixed with the arp.

    E-------------------------------5--6--8--
    B----------------------5--7--8-----------
    G------------5--6--8---------------------
    D--5--7--8-------------------------------
    A----------------------------------------
    E----------------------------------------

    I will sound great over the A7 chord. Try playing ONLY the altered notes and NOT the arps, then try and fnd a way of reeling it back in.

    From another perspective you can think of this a being a W-H tone scale starting on the b7 or the b9 or the M3 or the 5 of the A7 chord, OR you can think of it as a H-W tone scale starting on the R or the #9 or the b5 or the 13 of the A7 chord.

    So, there's a lot of possibilities. Whew!

    You can get a good understands of the common concepts of Diminished chords here: http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons/MusicTheory/ChdCon/ChdCon11.htm

    And there's a TON of Substitution info here, plus it'll give you a good idea of things from a jazz perspective: http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons/Jazz1/chordthoughts.htm

    From those I think you'll see why somethings sound good and somethings are clashing. And, if it's working...let it clash.

    I hope some of this helped.
     
  7. billstets

    billstets Member

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    Thanks for everything guys. Some of this I understand, espeically the part about "if it sounds good, then it is"!! A lot of is over my head at this point, but I'd like to study it. From looking at this, each chord in my song may indeed fit, but for a different technical reason in each bar.
     
  8. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Great point OTM, great application.
     
  9. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    The dim. arp F#-A -C-Eb or Gb-A-C-D# can be superimposed over the dominant 7#9 chord which is located a 1/2 step BELOW each dim arp tone
     
  10. gennation

    gennation Member

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  11. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    W/All Due respect (WADR) That's an incomplete statement

    They are only synonymous when placing the root diminished arp/ root w-h dim scale on the b9, 3 ,5, b7 of a 7b9 chord
     
  12. cameron

    cameron Member

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    in other words, a dim7 chord is a rootless 7b9 chord.

    and since they repeat every three frets, you can think of a dim7 chord as any one of four rootless 7b9 chords.

    e.g. C#dim7 can be thought of either as C7b9 with no root, or as Eb7b9 with no root, or as F#7b9 with no root, or as A7b9 with no root
     
  13. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    Have y'all seen how Pat Martino explains it?
     
  14. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    Martino's WAY over my head! I don't care because I don't like that kind of guitar music anyway. But, that is how I interchange dim7's and flat nines. It must be a simple thing if i can figure it out on my own:)
     
  15. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Basic rule of thumb...

    For a Diminished chord, play a W-H tone scale from either note of the Dim7 chord.

    For Dominant 7 chords play a H-W tone scale from the Root of the Dom7 chord.

    That will show all the chords you can build in relation the chord you're working with.
     
  16. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    Yeah, but this concept and the way martino teaches it has absolutely 0% to do with style. This is a general concept which can be translated into anything from death metal to country.
    Martino just happens to be a musician who can teach complicated concepts in a simple fashion.

    You may have figured this out, but aren't you interested in other viewpoints which arrive at the same conclusion?
     
  17. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    Absolutely. Not intentionally putting down Martino. He's a great musician. My problem is, I don't hear in my head the reharmonized contemporary jazz stylings. I don't hear the melodies or the keys. It almost sounds atonal to my ears. I've tried to like it but haven't been able to yet. In jazz I'm more of an Oscar Moore, Charlie Christian, Bucky Pizzarelli kind of guy. I have old fashioned tastes. I can't play like them either but I enjoy what they did. Sorry to be a dinosaur but I do try to be open to new things.
     
  18. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    I LOVE the old standards. That's how I learned the most about chords. Sit on the backporch with a cigar, an acoustic and a good fakebook. My favorite fakebook is the one by Warner Brothers, Just Real Standards. In comes in a B flat or an E flat. B flat good for male vocalists and the E flat book is the same but all tranposed up a 4th, great for female alto or soprano voices. I can read and write chord charts but the notes make no sense to me. There are problems with being self taught..........
     
  19. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Get yourself a quick and dirty crash course book on reading. Something like "Everything Reading Music".

    A bulk of guitarists that read are not proficient sight readers (not to forget the guys that can read like monsters though). But most "understand" how to read.

    So, you can you can sit on the back proch, with the cigar and you fakebook, and pick out notes, and count out the rhythms.

    I may take a bit more constructive time, but you'll definitely be able to do it after a week or two of reading that book.

    Then move to some like Aaron Shearers Classical Guitar book, it's GREAT for ramping you up as a reader. Or, try Modern Method for Guitar (Leavitt), it jumps a head a little quicker than Shearers book but it has help countless guitarists on their quest to become better readers.

    PLUS...the Everything Reading Music book directly teaches you Music Theory too. It's a very applicable book.

    I just started up reading again, been playing 30 years. It has opened up doors to music and learning that were closed before. Take the rest of the year (4 months or so) and spend some serious time trying to read. You may not be the best reader in 4 months, but you're are going to be WORLDS ahead of where you are now.

    Words from the wise ;)
     
  20. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    Thanks so much! I would like to be able to write horn lines for the band. My sax player can write music like he's writing his name. I can play him a little line, he taps his foot and writes it out. Doesn't even use his horn, just hums it. Amazes me every time! His whole life is music, teaches orchestra in a high school, conducts Theater in the park, community orchestras, plays in string quartets. Great academic and a good sax player. I'll never attain that level but I should try to do something. My piano player can also site read. I've seen the benefits for many years just hate the discipline to learn it. Thanks again!
     

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