3 Arpeggios from the Diminished Scale (No Triads)

The diminished scale can be hard to navigate and explore but also has some really great sounds that we can use. In this lesson I am going to show you three of the arpeggios that I like to use when I am improvising and one of them is also the favorite of Scott Henderson.

The basic Chord Progression and Scale lay-out

The examples in this video are all over a C7(13b9) and then because the diminished scale is mostly used as a scale to create tension before resolving I chose to resolve the lines to an Fmaj7.

To give you an idea of the harmony and the a way to play the scale I have written out some chord voicings here below:

The DimMaj7 arpeggio

I forgot where I read or saw this, but I think it was a video where Scott Henderson talked about how this was his favourite arpeggio from the diminished scale.

The DimMaj7 arepggio is a Diminished arpeggio where the diminished 7 (bb7) is replaced with a Maj7. 

A Bb dim arpeggio is:

  • Bb Db E G

And the Bb dimMaj7 arpeggio replaces the G with an A(maj7 of Bb)

  • Bb Db E A

You can also look at the top 3 notes as an A major triad (even though I said no triads…)

The line that demonstrates how this may sound is using dimMaj7 arpeggios from G and Bb. The first bar starts with encircling the G and then ascends the dimMaj7 arpeggio. Bar 2 has a similar structure for the Bb dimMaj7 arpeggio before resolving to Fmaj7.

To practice these arpeggios you can do the following exercise:

The Dom7th arpeggios

It seems obvious but actually this is a little overlooked when it comes to the arpeggios in the diminished scale: The 4 dom7th arpeggios.

In this scale we have 4 arpeggios available: C7, A7, Gb7 and Eb7.

The example is using two arpeggios: First A7 in a pattern and then moving up to the Gb7 arpeggio on beat 4 of the 1st bar and repeating that pattern. This gives a nice poly-rhythm feel because of the two implied bars of 3/4 measures of A7 and Gb7.

To Practice connecting the dom7th arpeggio you go through exercises like the one I have written out here below.
 Quartal arpeggios from the diminished scale.

If you play a standard drop3 C7(13) in the 8th fret and then drop out the root on the E string. Then you have a quartal arpeggio: Bb E A

This quartal arpeggio (which you can also use as a voicing) can of course be moved around in minor 3rds in the scale and is a very useful melody for diminished scale licks.

The example below is starting with 3 versions of the quartal arpeggio. From G, Bb and Db.

The line then continues with a Bb dimMaj7 arpeggio and from there it resolves to the 3rd of Fmaj7.

The best way to practice this is to check them out in a position and make sure to get the different string sets. An example of this is shown in the exercise below:

Diminished scale ideas and getting them into your playing

When coming up with lines using the diminished scale it is of course a god idea to have several options available besides just playing the scale, so you can’t have too many arpeggios in your vocabulary. Most of the times triads are very good and the 3 I went over in this lesson are a great addition to this.

I am considering doing a video on some of the other triads available besides the major triads, but more on that later. 

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3 Arpeggios from the Diminished scale and no Triads!

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