Today’s Tip is the third of a 3 part series. Please refer to yesterday’s Tip as well as the day previous. Alas, the Diminished Whole Tone Scale: so named because it begins as an inverted diminished scale and ends as a whole tone scale. The diminished whole tone (DWT) is the king of scales for advanced improvisers, being more profound than blues, pentatonic, or even the bebop scales because it systematically contains all the altered extensions within a single scale. Furthermore, it can be broken down (like all scales) into modes which create the most interesting sounds in the entire harmonic vocabulary of improvised music.
Similar to the whole tone scale, the DWT is easy to describe yet just as confounding to master due to fingering issues. To play a DWT scale, simply play a major scale lowering everything but the root; i.e., C, Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, Bb, C… Functional analysis over C7: root, b9, #9, M3rd, #11 (b5), b13, 7, octave. As for the fingering issue I highly recommend stretching out if a single box rather than making any shifts. That entails a huge stretch from the b3 (finger 4) to the b4 (finger1) but worth it as you play higher on the neck (as the notes are closer together and you can play it without any shifts). So……your fingering will be: 1 2 -4 1- 2- 4 1 3 .
Now the fun part! Modes of the DWT scale [ this is VERY difficult and you will need to shift and stretch like crazy] If starting with C as the root, you play from the 2nd degree to the ninth, you are simply playing a Db melodic minor scale. Starting on Eb- Phrygian w/ raised 6th, Fb- Lydian #5, Gb- Lydian/ Mixolydian, Ab- Mixolydian b6, Bb- Aeolian b5. I will explain this in detail over the next few days so stay tuned to the blog.