Tip Of The Day

The fully diminished chord quality (and the accompanying fully diminished scale) is my favorite of all tonalities. As previously discussed, the fully diminished 7 chord has a ‘lowered everything’ including the 7th (which functions 1 & ½ steps below the octave) spelled- root, b3, b5, bb7. Note that the bb7 (known as a double flat) might appear to be a 6th. For example in the key of C: C, Eb, Gb, Bbb LOOKS LIKE: C, Eb, Gb, A…Bbb and A are the same PITCH, but different NOTE. The term for this is an ’enharmonic’ or ’enharmonic spelling’. The accompanying scale, the fully diminished scale, is simply a series of whole step, ½ step, whole step, ½ step etc.

This scale has many important characteristics you must know!!  1. It is one of three scale types to fall under the category of ’Symmetric Scales‘, that is scales which consist of repeated intervallic relationships. The other two are ’chromatic’ and ’whole tone’. [get it?]  2. It is often confused for its opposite twin- the ’inverted diminished’ scale: ½, whole, ½, whole.  3. As an improv tool use the inverted form starting on the root of dominant 7 chords. For example, the second chord of ’Spain’ -F#7 use G diminished or F# inverted diminished. 4. The diminished scale is also known as the ‘octatonic’ scale because it contains eight different tones as opposed to the typical seven note scales. 5. Though the birthplace of the dim 7 chord is the 7th degree of a harmonic scale, they typically function as a passing chord whereas the root is RAISED by a ½ step (not residual 3-5-7 being lowered). For example, in between C7 and D-7, insert C#dim7.So easy- just raise the root C up ½ step to C#.  THE POINT IS, note the difference between the chord (and its typical function), and the scale (and how we use it as improvisers).