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Diminshed Chords? Half-Diminished Chords?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Noobai, Mar 23, 2003.

  1. Noobai


    Aug 25, 2002
    Stanford, CA
    Hey all, I have a question.

    Being relatively new to bass and theory (1.5 years or so), there are many things I dont know. Yesterday, I fuond something new to learn.

    My friends are putting together a jazz ensemble for cabaret and they want me to play bass for it. I got together with my guitarist yesterday and wrote out a chord chart.

    Problem is, the majority of the chords are either diminshed or half diminshed.

    He tried to texplain it to me, but all I remember is root, flat 3rd, flat 5th, for half diminshed.

    Does anyone have a link that explains these chords? Or someone wanna give me a quick, flat #, raised #? thx :)!

  2. A half diminished chord = R, b3, b5, b7
    In C for example, this would be C Eb Gb Bb.
    This would be written as Cm7b5

    A whole dimished chord = R b3 b5 bb7 (double flat 7)
    In C this would be C Eb Gb A
    Written as Co7
  3. Noobai


    Aug 25, 2002
    Stanford, CA
    Wait, so would I just play the notes you listed?

    For example, for a half deminished C (R, b3, b5, b7) I'd only play...C Eb Gb Bb?

    Same for diminished? I only play the flatted notes? No 6's or 4's? 2's?
  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Well, what bass87 posted for you were the notes in the diminished and half-diminished chords. The conservative approach would be to only use the chord tones. However, this doesn't necessarily mean you have to limit yourself to just playing those notes. If you are confident with your use of chord tones you may want to start adding passing tones (scales tones not in the chord) or chromatic notes (notes that lie outside of the scale) to your basslines, where they would work and sound good to you.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The most common scales to play over those chords are Locrian over the half diminished and the "Diminished" or "Octatonic" scale over the fully diminished, if you go in for that approach. If you don't, let your ears tell you which stepwise notes sound good in between the chord tones.
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    If the MAJORITY of the chords are diminished it must sound pretty weird :eek:
  7. Noobai


    Aug 25, 2002
    Stanford, CA
    Actually, majority is half diminshed, only 1 fully diminished chord.

    So wait, if the chord is Half Diminshed *lets say its a C* then I can play C Locrian over it?
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Technically, if you're calling it R b3 b5 bb7 then it would be C Eb Gb Bbb.

    Oh, and as Brian says - if the majority of the chords are diminished or half-diminished... well... it's kinda an unusual sequence. You wanna post the progression?
  9. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yup. But let your ears guide you.
  10. Noobai


    Aug 25, 2002
    Stanford, CA
    Heres the progression


    Em7, C# (half dim)


    Em7, E (half dim), C# (half dim) C# (full dim), B7, B7, Bb7, A7


    E7, Em7, E (half dim), Em7, E (half dim), Eb(half dim), D (half dim), C# (half dim), C(half dim), Bm7, Cmaj7, Bm7, Dmaj7, C# )half dim), D(half dim), D# (half dim)

    Yeah, enjoy :p
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    With that progression I can't wait to hear the melody :rolleyes:
  12. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK

    Who made up that progression? Someone who just discovered half-dim chords, and is now going-to-town with them? :D

    I too, would like to hear the tune that goes with that. Can you post a recording please? :D

    The thing is, here, it's difficult to give you a scale you can play over these m7b5 chords, because there's really not a lot of functional harmony going on here, and at any given point it's difficult to say what key you're in (if any!). The Locrian scale, for instance works when the half-dim chord is functioning as chord ii7 in a minor key. But these half dim chords don't seem to have that function - in fact it looks like half-dim chords for the sake of half-dim chords!!

    Bits of that look like what I might expect to see in a Jazz tune - but they don't seem to take it anywhere. For example, You've got E7 Em7 Em7b5 there - which looks like it might be going to D Minor (if you followed it with A7alt) - but then you go back to Em7. It's sorta like "Oh, so where was that Em7b5 taking us?" - nowhere apparently, because we've just gone back to Em7. Then you've got a descending chromatic thang with - yup, you've guessed it - half-dim chords!!! :D

    Then you've got some noodling around with some Bm7s and things, taking you to a Dmaj7, and then an ascending chromatic sequence of half-dim chords...

    ...Who wrote this?!? :D
  13. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    :eek: Terrifying.
  14. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Woo hoo!

    Looks like you could think E melodic minor until you get to the last two bars of the chorus and return to it again in the bridge until you hit the chromatic part where you could restate a phrase going down chromatically which sounds cool. Depends on what else is going on though. Good luck. :D