diminished harmony

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Howard K, Feb 5, 2004.

  1. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    A few things lately have made me wonder about this... namely the Blue Bossa thread down below somewhere

    My questions is...

    What is diminished harmony?

    In the Blue Bossa thread there was a discussion that seemed to revolve around whether use of particular scales over a particular chord was diminished harmony or.. not?!

    So, I understand that a wide variation of colours tones can be added to domainant V chords to strengthen resolve to the tonic, or harmonize a melody note..

    But, what, precisely is diminished harmony? How does it relate to the diminished scale and how does it differ from altered chord tone and scale harmony?

    If I've totally missed the point, let me know?!

    ta :)

  2. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Well..commonly you don't really refer to "diminished harmony", but perhaps harmony derrived from the diminished scale. If you're reffering to what I said in the Blue bossa thread , this is what I meant ; there are two kind of diminshed scales, the whole-half dim scale and the half-whole.

    They're essentially interchangable but the whole-half is usually used on diminshed chords (Root, b3, b5, bb7). The scale is made up of intervals of alternating half and whole tone steps. (W-H-W-H-W-H-W-H)

    The other scale is the half-whole scale, and it is similair to the whole-half in terms of it being made of alternating half and whole steps, except for the first interval being a halfstep (H-W-H-W-H-W-H-W). It is primarily used on altered dominants such as on G7b9 the most popular scale is the G half/whole dim.

    However, as you see these scales are interchangable to the degree that for example a C whole/half dim scale is the same thing as a half/whole starting on D.

    The trick here is to see that a F# Dim chord is basically the same thing as a D7b9 without the D as a root. Dim chords are generally used like dominants , to create chromatic chord motion instead of regular dominants that resolve a 4th up.

    Example: instead of playing Bb-G7b9-Cm7-F7 you can play
    Bb-Bdim-Cm7-F7. The progression is essentially the same, with Bdim and G7b9 having a similair chord function, except the chord motion is now chromatic between the 2nd and 3rd chord.

  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Gottit. Thanks :)

    And I like this too... gonna try it out tonight.

  4. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    yup ....thats pretty much it

    you could also even further chromticise that movement by tri-tone subbing the f7

    So it would be: Bb-Bdim-Cmin7-B7(alt)-Bb

    Like the tri-tone sub, its a handy tool to chromaticise or add a bit of flavour to dull progressions.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This was one the "big things" in my Jazz classes - using these scales really makes a solo sound "Jazzy" and is something that I felt I would never have discovered on my own - no matter how many years, I practiced music on my own - hearing how it sounds and how it is applied, was a total revelation in terms of how Jazz soloists get their "sound" ! :)
  6. Try and get hold of a book by James Birkett about diminshed chords and scales. He identifies a lot more than two diminshed scales. The man did his PHD on diminished chord theory. He also the leader of the course I am studying. :) If you get a chance, go to see the James Birkett-Rod Sinclair duo playing. They are both wonderful guitarists.