Tag Archives: diminished scale

Secret to play over Diminished Chords

Everybody find Diminished chords troublesome to play over, but actually it is not as difficult as you think. In this video I will go over how I improvise over a diminished chord and give you the tools and knowledge to add it to your guitar solos.

Three main types of Dim Chords

A diminished chord is a collection of notes that always want to resolve. They are never used as a tonic chord, but always as a means of tension towards or suspension of another chord. The first thing to notice is that diminished chords have different ways to resolve, in fact there are three main types of dim chords resolutions you will come across. These are shown in example 1 here below:

Dominant Diminished Chords

The first diminished chord is a G#dim resolving to an Am7. This Dim chord functions as a dominant and could easily be replaced with an E7.

I assume you know how to play a dominant resolving to a minor chord like E7(b9) to Am, so I won’t spend a lot of time on this type in this lesson.

Sub-Dominant Diminished Chords

The other two are #IV diminished chords. These are not dominants but are sub dominants and resolve in a different way. The easiest way to think of them is as #IV dim, but you are also (or most even) likely to come accross them in inversions (as you will see in the examples)

The two most common progressions where you will come across these are the #VI-I. In this case the Fdim to Fmaj7, where Fdim is an inversion of Bdim, which is #IV in F major.

The last part of example 1 is a #IV dim chord (Ab dim or Bdim/Ab in this case) resolving to a subdominant chord: Gm7. This is a very common dim chord to encounter in turnarounds and is also found in a lot of standards like The Song is You or Embraceable You.

So we have three types of progressions where one is easy to play because we can treat it as a V I progression.

How to not use the diminished scale

The scale that you need to use in a context not the diminished scale. Primarily because the diminished scale is a symetrical and synthetic construction and not really what fits any type of tonal song. Most jazz standard progressions, where we find the diminished chords, are tonal.

The best way to approach this is probably to take a look at the scale that is the key. In this case that is F major as shown in example 2. If we alter this scale to contain a Dim chord then we get either an A harmonic minor scale or you could also choose a C harmonic major scale.

In most cases the A harmonic minor scale is more familiar so for now we can just stick with that. The C harmonic major option only differs one note and the difference is not that big.

The Secret Trick to Dim Chords

The secret trick in this case is to use the target notes that we associate with the V I resolutions, so in this case we coud resolve the dim chord to an A or a C over the Fmaj7 or Gm7. In Example 3 I have written out some simple exercises so you can hear how it sounds.

It’s all about target notes

So instead of making lines that resolve to the basic chord tones of the chord you can make lines as if you are resolving a dom7th chord and get used to how they sound over the chord you want to resolve to.

Idim – Imaj7

This type of progression is fairly common in songs like “I Remember You” or “You Do Something To Me”

Using the target notes of A and C in this situation is not so difficult since the A and C are both chord tones on an Fmaj7: F A C E.

Below are to examples of simple lines resoving to first the C and then the A.

The material I am using on the Bdim is really spelling out an E7(b9). E7(b9) is of course also what you are left with if you take an A harmonic minor scale and leave out A and C. 

The bIII dim resolving to IIm7.

This is usually the dim chord situation that is causing the most problems. It is also the example where you end up playing towards extensions over the II chord that you are maybe not as used to resolving to or hearing.

The first thing you want to be used to is the sound of the dim chord resolving to Gm7 as I wrote out in example 3.

For the bIII dim chord I have a few different examples. The first two are in the context of a III bIII II V I progression. 

1st Turnaround example

The Am7 line is a basic Am triad which is followed by a dim arpeggio from B to Ab. The Ab is then resolved to A on the Gm7. The A is then used as a top note in an Bbmaj7 arpeggio.

2nd Turnaround example

The 2nd turnaround example is using the C over the Gm7 chord.

The line starts with a scale run from A to C on the Am7. The Abdim line is a descending arpeggio run from the 3rd(B). On the Gm7 the line first resolves to C, which is the target note, and from there continues with a Bb major triad played in a 153 pattern.

Longer bIIIdim lines

To help you get used to the sound I have also included two examples where you can hear the resolution and I am adding the chord under the target note so that you can easily hear how it resolves.

The first example is using a dim arpeggio pattern followed by an E7 arpeggio that resolves to 9th(A) over Gm7.

The second example uses a similar arpeggio pattern that is followed by an E7(b9) fragment. This resolves to the 11th(C) on the Gm7 where I again have added the chord under the target note.

How to work on this material

The important thing is that you train yourself to hear how these target notes work and sound over the chords and in that way get the lines that you already have in your system as dominant lines to work in this other context.

Adding the chords under the target notes or just sitting down to voicelead chords towards with the target notes in the melody can be very useful besides all the exercises I covered in this lesson!

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Secret to play over diminished chords

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Melodic Minor, Altered, Tritone Subs – Guitar solo on Solar

Using Melodic minor and it’s modes is an important part of the modern jazz guitar sound. In this video I am going to analyse a solo on the jazz standards Solar that I improvised and transcribed. The solo should give you some ideas on what arpeggios and structures I use when I am playing and help you get more confident using melodic minor and tritone substitutions.

In the video I will be giving some examples of alternative arpeggios besides the ones I am playing in the solo, so for that reason it is worth while checking out the video.

Solar: History, form, key and harmony

Solar is often attributed to Miles Davis, but there it is likely that he did not in fact write the song and that it is in fact a composition by Chuck Wayne. This is also mentioned in this wikipedia article

The form of Solar is 12 bars. It is a reharmonization of a 12 bar blues in C minor. The first four bars are clearly reminiscent of a blues moving from the I to the IV. Very often these four bars are also played as four bars of C minor. The IV is then here substituted for a maj7 chord, and use a pattern of II V I cadences where the I is turned into a II chord by making it a minor chord. A similar idea to what happens in for example How High The Moon.

The melody of Solar clearly uses melodic minor on the I chord, and this makes it a great place to start using tonic melodic minor.

Tonic melodic minor and the cadence to the 4th degree.

The opening line is constructed from two versions of the arpeggio from the 3rd of CmMaj: Ebmaj(#5) In the lower octave it is played as a triplet with a leading note. From there it continues up the scale and then plays another Ebmaj(#5) arpeggio. From there it continues down a structure that you could call an F lydian arpeggio (5 #4 3 1, which is a term coined by Rick Beato). It then ends on the maj6th of the CmMaj which is then also the 9th(A) of Gm7.

For the cadence to Fmaj7 two concepts are being used: A quick trill with a chromatic approach and a line on the C7 drawing from the diminished scale.

Diminished dominants

The line on the Gm7 is also using the arpeggio from the third. On the Gm7 that is a Bbmaj7 which is played as a descending sweep. From there the line continues with a trill on the A and the Bb which then is used as part of an encircling of the 5th(G) of C.

The C7 is given a C7(13b9) color which is mostly associated to the diminished scale. In this case it starts out with a scale run that could just as easily have been from the normal F major scale, but then via an A major triad (in 2nd inversion) turns into  a C7(13b9). The A major triad is a great way to pull out that sound since it combines the 13 and the b9.  

Chaining triads together

The Fmaj7 line is constructed of first two triads: A very clear F major triad that then continues into a C major triad. From the C it continues into what could be seen as an Fmaj7 arpeggio with an added 9th.

The line ends on the 3&, a typical Bebop phraing habit.  

Triplet groupings and tritone substitution

For medium tempos the 8th note triplets are a great way to vary the flow of 8th notes. Your playing will benefit greatly from checking this out. If you want to hear great examples of this then check out mid 60’s Herbie Hancock or some of the more recent Kurt Rosenwinkel stuff.

In this example I am using triplets in groups of four. Since this is an improvised solo the way I use it is more loose and I don’t play complete bars or start clearly on the one. The idea is however still clearly groups of for notes. Since triplets naturally fall in groups of three then grouping them in fours will create a nice shifting rhythm on top of the original groove. In the solo I start on the 3rd triplet of the bar, but if you watch the video I also demonstrate how it would sound if you started it on the one with the same pattern. The four note pattern is an Abmaj7 shell voicing (three notes) followed by an 8th note triplet rest. 

The Bb7 line is using tritone substitution. In this case it is done very clearly since the line consists purely of an E7 arpeggio played in a skipping pattern.  The line is pulled into the Ebmaj7 bar and the resolution is deayed until the 1&.

Using the diatonic arpeggio of the VI degree

On the Ebmaj7  the material used is essentially a Cm7 arpeggio decorated with an extra D. Using the VI arpeggio over a tonic chord is a good resource and will mostly work really well. The Cm7 arpeggio is of course also in fact an Eb6 arpeggio.

Quick II V: Ignore the V chord

On the II V I to Db major I am using the exact same arpeggio as I did on Ebmaj7, except that I am moving it up to Ebm7. The line is pretty basic and the only really interesting thing is probably that it is clearly ignoring the Ab7. To me this place in the song is served better by ignoring the Ab and then focusing on the Ebmaj7 -> Ebm7 change. As you shall see in the next cadence I don’t have strict rules about which chord to ignore in a quick II V like this one. It is context sensitive what you consider more important. 

On the Dbmaj7 the line is using an Fm pentatonic scale. Using the pentatonic scale from the 3rd of the chord is a personal favorite of mine. I find that it is a great way to bring out the important colors over the maj7 chord and it is easy to use it to start pulling out some of the quartal arpeggio sounds as well.

Quick II V: Ignore the II chord 

In the final II V I am ignoring the II chord. This feels more natural because the point of the cadence is that it wants to pull us back to the I chord at the top of the next chorus. This is an important function and (obviously?) the dom7th chord carries most of that which is why I don’t really play the II chord.

The line is using a trill on G and from there continues down an AbmMaj7 arpeggio that is then resolved to the 9th(D) of CmMaj7. 

Try it out on my backing track

If you want to check out how all these concepts and ideas work you can do so on my backing track: Solar 141 bpm

If you would like to check out the 2nd chorus you can do so via my Patreon page. You will get access to the 2nd chorus, the lesson discussing it and a lot of other extras with a pledge of $3 for each Thursday YouTube Lesson. You can have a look here: Jens Larsen on Patreon 

I have a small but deidcated community on Patreon that supports me in making all the jazz videos and it is a great way for me to give something back for the support!

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Solar – Melodic Minor and Tritone subs

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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4 Dominants on one Chord! – You’ll never need another arpeggio

There are really easy ways to create some strong interesting lines on Dominant chords. In fact using the diminished scale allows us to use 4 different Dominant arpeggios over one chord. In this video I will demonstrate how and give you some examples! 

Diminished scale on dominants

The diminished scale is very useful for improvising over a dom7th chords that resolve. In Example 1 you have the octatonic or diminished scale that is associated with G7.

The chord you’d typically hear that fits this sound would be a G7(13b9)

Constructing the 4 dom7th arpeggios

As you may or may not know the diminished scale is constructed by two diminished arpeggios a half step apart. In this case: Bb and B dim.

If we take the B dim and play that in inversions we get the first line of example 2. For each inversion we can take the first note and lower it a half step. This gives us for dominant chords: Bb7, Db7, E7 and G7.

Practicing the arpeggios.

Since we are going to be using these arpeggios to make lines it makes sense to practice them together. One way of doing this is to spend time playing the arpeggios and going from one to the next and using inversions. 

One way of working a bit free form on this is doing an exercise like I do in the video. Here I am just improvising in 8th note and connecting the arpeggios in inversion to help associate them with one another. This makes it a lot easier to come up with lines.

For me it is important to get used to thinking of these arpeggios as something I use over a chord, so I don’t think of them as substitutions, but just as arpeggios that fit over the chord.

II V I line examples in the key of C

I have chosen to use the simplest possible form in my examples so I won’t use any extensions or mix the arpeggio. I think it is a great way to demonstrate how it works.

The first example is using the Bb7 and the E7 arpeggio. First the Dm7 line is a basic line built around an Fmaj7 arpeggio. The G7 line is first just a straight Bb7 root position arpeggio followed by an E7 arpeggio that is mixed up a bit more.

In the 2nd II V I the Dm7 line is  build on an Fmaj7 drop2 voicing that I use as an arpeggio. On the G7 I am using a tritone pair of dominants, which is first a Db7 from the 5th down to the 7th. The same idea is then played on a G7 which fit’s nicely in the melody.

The final example starts with an Fmaj7(9) arpeggio and then has a G7 line that mixes the Db7 and Bb7 arpeggios.

Conclusion

The main idea with the exercises here is to get started using some of these arpeggios when playing over a dom7th chord using the diminished scale. You can always expand on the ideas by starting to add extensions or using some of the other arpeggios from the scale.

I hope you can use the concept for some new melodic ideas in your playing.

If you want to check out my playing where I use the diminished scale on dominants then you could check out this lesson:

There is no greater love – solo transcription

 

If you want to download a PDF of the examples you can do so here:

4 Dominants over One Chord

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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The Wrong Tritone Scale

The tritone scale is in itself all a fun symmetrical scale to play around with for some outside sounds, but it turns out that you can actually use more than one tritone scale on a dominant! That’s what I am going to cover in this lesson.

The Tritone Scale

In my first lesson on the tritone scale Iwent over how you can construct the tritone scale by using two major triads a tritone apart. So if you want a tritone scale for a D7 chord them you take the D major and Ab major triads and combine those to make a 6 note symmetrical scale. You can check out more about this in the lesson here: Tritone Scale

The Wrong triads and the wrong Tritone scale

The tritone scale is a subset of the diminished scale. Since you can look at the diminished scale as constructed of 4 major triads a minor third apart you can actually construct two different tritone scales from a diminished scale: One from D & Ab triads and another with B & F triads.

The Wrong Tritone Scale - ex 1

Since you can anyway use the diminished scale on a dominant you can of course also use a subset of it when making lines over the chord.

The tritone scale constructed from B and F triads would be this scale:

The Wrong Tritone Scale - ex 2

The examples that I am will go over are all on a D7(13b9) in the context of a II V I in G major as shown in example 3:

The Wrong Tritone Scale - ex 3

If we look at the notes of our “wrong” tritone scale against a D root we get the following tensions:

The Wrong Tritone Scale - ex 4

II V I licks with the “wrong” tritone scale

In the first example I start off with a chromatic approach phrase resolving to the C on beat 3. From there I continue with a C major triad. On the D7 I start with an encircling of the B and from there continue by linking the B and F triad using a pattern I talked about in the first lesson.

The Wrong Tritone Scale - ex 5

The 2nd example is using first a drop2 arpeggio over the Am7 and continues with a descending scale down to the B. On the D7 the line consists of B7 and F7 arpeggios chained together.

The Wrong Tritone Scale - ex 6

The Am7 line in the last example starts with a descending Cmaj7 arpeggio followed by a descending scale run. On the D7 the line is constructed using a symmetrical pattern that you could see as being a partial B7 and F7 inversion. The F7 inversion has an added trill to keep it from sounding too symmetrical.

The Wrong Tritone Scale - ex 7

Hopefully you can get some fresh ideas for some new dom7th lines using the “wrong” tritone scale and some of the nice colors it contains.

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

The Wrong Tritone Scale

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

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Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords

In my lesson on scale choices for dominant chords: Dom7th chords One of the examples was using the diminished scale. In this lesson I want to show how I make lines using the major triads in the diminished scale and give a few examples and exercises to help developing that.

Scale and Triad exercises

The diminished scale when applied to a dominant gives you the sound of for example a G7(b9#11,13) chord. To me the 13th sound very major this is because it is the major third of the chord that the dominat resolves to (the E in the case of the G7 to Cmaj7). At the same time the chord contains the b9 (Ab) which sounds minor so it is sort of in between the major (using the mixolydian sound) and minor dominants (harmonic minor or altered scales).

Let’s first try to play the scale:

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 1

I never spent a lot of time practicing the scale, and have always use more time on making lines with the arpeggios and structures I took out of it. That said you still need to be able to play it and should know it over the whole neck.

If we build chords by stacking thirds in this scale we will only get diminished chords, but if you start looking at the material you’ll see that it contains Major and minor triads too as well as dom7th and m7th chords. Since the diminished scale is symmetrical and you can moving everything around in minor thirds we can also see that if we have a G major triad, we will also have Bb, Db and E major triads.

To learn the triads and have material to make lines it is practical to learn the inversions of the triads:

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 2

Here are 3 of the 4 string sets. Of course there are many other ways to practice this than string sets, but for now let’s focus on these.

Since it could be useful to use more triads in one line it can be a good exercise to connect them and get an overview of where they are placed in one position. One exercise (you can and should make more yourself!) is to play the triads in this progression on one string set: G, E, Db, Bb G, etc.

That might look like this:

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 3

You can try to do thi son other string sets and come up with other ideas for connecting the triads and getting an overview of how they a placed in relation to each other.

Example lines

Often when people start working with the diminished scale they use the symmetrical aspect a lot. Probably because it is very practical on guitar and requires little effort in learning the scale or the structures in it. Personally I don’t like those melodies that much so I try not to use that too often and focus more on treating it like I would any other scale, which should be clear from the examples.

All my examples are II V I progressions in C major. For these examples I did not try to stay in one position, mostly because I think that this is material you should check out when you already have that knowledge covered for major and minor cadences.

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 4

In the first example I play a simle Dm7 arpeggio followed by a scale fragment. The Diminished line is first an E and then a Db major triad. Notice that I don’t only use root position inversions. After the triads I make a small trill on the b9 before resolving to the 3rd of C

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 5

The line on the Dm7 in the second example is very closely related to the one in the first since it is almost a diatonic transposition of it. On the G7 I play the same sort of pattern on a Db and then a Bbmajor triad. I guess this melodic pattern is developed from a RH picking pattern, but it does work well for arpeggios because it emphasizes the top note in the arpeggio. The line resolves chromatically to the maj7th on the C.

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 6

In the last line I use an Fmaj7 shell voicing on the Dm7, followed by a scale run from the root to the 5th. The line on the G7 consists of a 1st inversion E triad and a 2nd inversion Bb triad followed by the b9 and the third before resolving to the 5th of C.

As I mention in the video I find the 2 string inversions of triads a useful tool in soloing so it can be worthwhile to check that out, and I will probably make a lesson on that in the future.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.