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Diminished Scale – More Improvising Tools

The diminished scale is a good source for improvising over diminished chords and altered dominant chords. You don’t have to be into Jazz to use these scales. Diminshed and altered chords are in every style music.

There are two of these scales but they are actually the same scale you just start one note up or down from the original.

These scales tend to be confusing on the guitar neck. The concept of whole tone-half tone is easy to understand but hard to visualize on the guitar neck because you have to shift positions in the middle of it.

This tends to make you lose your place and think was I on a half or whole tone?

Just do them slowly until get the sound of the scale in your head. Then get it up to speed with your metronome a little at a time.

The Chromatic scale notes are spaced every 1/2 tone or every fret apart. A 12 note scale. This is one part of this symmetrical scale.

Whole Tone – The Whole Tones

The whole tone scale notes are spaced every whole tone or 2 frets apart. A 6 note scale

This is the second part of the diminished scale notes.

The Diminished Scales

The diminished scale combines these two variation by making two scales with spacings of one whole tone then one half tone.

The diminished whole starts with a whole note, the diminished half, yes you got it starts with a half tone

Other than starting on a different note these scales are identical although a little confusing until you get the sound of it implanted into your brain

This is an 8 note scale

Here’s the table from the whole tone page to make it easier to visualize these scales

Chromatic

C

C♯

D

D♯

E

F

F♯

G

G♯

A

A♯

B

C

Whole Tone

C

D

E

F♯

G♯

A♯

C

Whole Tone 2

C♯

D♯

E♯

G

A

B

C♯

Diminished Whole

C

D

E♭

F

F♯

G♯

A

B

C

Diminished Half

C

C♯

D♯

E

F♯

G

A

B♭

C

Please note E♯ is the same as F, D♯ and E♭ are the same pitch, and A♯ and B♭ are the same pitch. They are just written different.

When you are writing in these scales all note writing rules are not used like in the major and minor scales

Diminished Whole Scale – Chords

Diminished Whole

C

D

E♭

F

F♯

G♯

A

B

C

Scale degree

Root

2/9

♭3/+9

4/11

♭5

♯5

13

7

root

These scales can be used on dim7th chords starting at the root.

When using this chord on altered dominant chords you start 1/2 step up. For a B7♭5 you would use the C diminished scale

This is a way of using the whole diminished scale instead of the half diminished scale.

Both scales are the same except the whole dim. starts with a whole tone and the half dim. scale starts with a half tone, confusing isn’t it

You could use the half diminished and start on the root it’s up to you. It’s still alternating whole steps and half steps for both scales.

B7♭5 chords

Here is what the notes would be for an altered B7 chord using the C dominant Scale

Diminished Whole

C

D

E♭

F

F♯

G♯

A

B

Scale degree

♭9

♯9

3

♭5

5

6

♭7

root

It contains a flatted 5th,9th and 7th and a raised 9th

Here is the C diminished scale played against a B7♭5 chord

Flash

QuikTime

Windows Media

C diminished played against a B7 flat five chord

Diminished 7th Arpeggio

I used to think this was the diminished scale, this was pre internet era and info wasn’t that easy to come by.

Most books were written for college professors or students (if you could find one) and not for someone to learn on their own like most musicians do.

It’s made from minor 3rds stacked together C to E♭, E♭ to F♯, F♯ to A and A to C.

You will probably recognize this. I first heard it on the Blues Magoo’s version of Tobacco Road written by John D Loudermilk. Yes that was the bands name.

It wasn’t played against a diminished chord either, every non altered dominant 7th chord has a diminished chord in it starting on the 3rd of the chord.

The C diminished arpeggio could be used on the A♭7th chord.

Heres a few A♭7th chords first

Try different chords like C7, F7, or Cdim7.

The C diminished chord has 4 names one for each note in it and it repeats itself every minor 3rd or 3 frets

The ° symbol stands for diminished or flatted in music

The C diminshed chord names are C°7, E♭°7, F♯°7 and A°7.

Here is what it sounds like played against an A♭7th chord

Flash

QuikTime

Windows Media

C diminished 7th arpeggio played against an A7th chord