Welcome to the forums!

diminished arpeggio's

Well who doesn't have a question about theory? Come on in and get them answered here. Beginning to advanced theory questions are welcome.

Moderator: The GN support team


Postby almann1979 » October 5th, 2010, 10:57 am

first off - i apologise, i asked a not too different question some months back about diminished scales, but i cant seem to find the thread using the search function, so that is why i am starting a new one.

i am still unsure as to what chords i could use a diminished arpeggio over - if i for example was playing an A minor chord, which diminished arpeggio's would i be able to play over it? or would that depend on the key i was in?

i am aware that diminished chords repeat for some reason every 3 frets, so does that mean if i was playing a sweep picking pattern, i could just move the same diminished pattern up 3 frets continuously over the same chord??

you can probably tell by the vaugeness of my question i dont really know much about diminished things - but if i can be given a general rule of thumb about when i can use the arpeggio's i would be very grateful.

thanks, Al
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)
User avatar
almann1979
Guitarnoise Denizen
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 10:52 am
Location: Lancashire, England

Postby NoteBoat » October 5th, 2010, 11:21 am

Diminished chords are part of the dominant chord family, so you usually wouldn't use them over a major or minor chord. But you can use them over a dominant chord.

The usual way they're used is to start a half step above the chord root. So if you're playing a C7 chord, you'd play a C#º arpeggio. The chord gives you C-E-G-Bb, and the arpeggio C#/Db-E-G-Bb... the result is a C7b9 sound.

And yes, since the chord repeats every 3 frets, the arpeggio will do the same.
Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL
User avatar
NoteBoat
Musically Insane
 
Posts: 5607
Joined: August 9th, 2003, 8:48 pm
Location: SW of Chicago

Postby almann1979 » October 5th, 2010, 11:29 am

thanks noteboat - that is great!

are there any situations a diminished arpeggio can be played over a straight major or minor chord? or are they exclusively used for dominant 7th chords?

The reason i ask is, if i am playing with the band, lets say in C, and the song we play requires a G7>C chord change, the lads in the band usually dont bother playing the flat 7th, and usually just play a G chord :oops: So if i want to try out some of these diminished arpeggio's over the G will it work in this situation?

(i know the answer is to tell them to play the G7 because that sounds better anyway - but being the least experienced of the 4, i dont think my opnion carries as much weight as theirs when musical descisions are made :lol: )
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)
User avatar
almann1979
Guitarnoise Denizen
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 10:52 am
Location: Lancashire, England

Postby NoteBoat » October 5th, 2010, 11:43 am

Yeah, you'll create a dominant sound by playing G#º over their G.

The reason dominant chords sound they way they do (having a tension that needs to resolve) is there's a tritone between the 3rd and b7. In a G7 chord, those notes are B and F... both of which are in the G#º arpeggio (G#-B-D-F)
Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL
User avatar
NoteBoat
Musically Insane
 
Posts: 5607
Joined: August 9th, 2003, 8:48 pm
Location: SW of Chicago

Postby almann1979 » October 9th, 2010, 2:57 pm

thanks noteboat - i think i am getting there.

Can i just check a few points please?

1) In Jazz the Diminished chord usually subs the V7 in a major ii V 1? However, In a 12 bar blues progression however i can only get this to sound right on the iv chord, not the V - why might this be?

2) Half diminished chords simply replace the ii chord in a minor ii v i in jazz? But do they have a place in a 12 bar blues progression, and if so, what?

3) In a minor ii v i in jazz, i can replace the 3rd in the one chord, and play the 4th instead and it will still sound right?

Big thanks in advance for any help on any of these points.

Al
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)
User avatar
almann1979
Guitarnoise Denizen
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 10:52 am
Location: Lancashire, England

Postby Nuno » October 10th, 2010, 3:54 am

almann1979 wrote:2) Half diminished chords simply replace the ii chord in a minor ii v i in jazz?

I was thinking exactly the same! Perhaps the half-diminished are in the minor chord family?

(Thanks for your questions and answers! Very interesting!)
User avatar
Nuno
Guitarnoise Addict
 
Posts: 4039
Joined: October 7th, 2006, 4:10 am
Location: Madrid, Spain

Postby NoteBoat » October 10th, 2010, 6:15 am

almann, I only laid out one use of the diminished chord to get you started... I apologize if I gave the impression that subbing for the V7 is the only way it's used - there are lots more! It's probably the most versatile chord we have.

Anyway, here goes...

1. I'm not sure what you're doing with the blues progression that's throwing you off as a sub for V7 - it sounds fine to my ears. If you're doing a blues in E, your chords might be E, A, and Cº (a half step up from B7). Just strum straight through that a few times and see if your ears don't get used to it.

Also, blues makes extensive use of dissonance. In fact, it's built right in - a blues in A has C# and E in the tonic chord, while the scale has C natural and Eb. Because of this, you can use a dissonance ANYWHERE in a blues! Subbing D#/Ebº for a D chord will sound just fine in an A blues, because plenty of blues tunes will use a IV7.

2. Jazz in minor keys is almost an anything goes situation. Because there are so many different minor scales, we can actually get away with using any chromatic scale tone except the natural 3rd almost anywhere in the tune. But for simplicity's sake, let's just look at the ii7 chord against a harmonic minor scale:

A-B-C-D-E-F-G#-A

B-D-F-A is 1-b3-b5-b7... which is a half diminished, or m7b5 chord. So yeah, it's a natural for anyplace you could use ii.

Blues, at least outside of a jazz-blues context, doesn't make as much use of it. The reason is that the b5 in a blues scale is usually treated as a passing tone rather than a chord tone. But if you want your blues to have a jazzy feel, you could sub im7b5 for the i chord, and you'll fit right in with the scale:

A-C-D-Eb-E-G

Another cool sub is to use the half diminished as a sub for IV. In a C blues, your IV is F (F-A-C); using F#m7b5 gives you F#-A-C-E... you get a major 7th sound from the E note, and the F# leads very neatly to the root of V or the fifth of I. It'll sound very jazzy!

3. Like I said, in a minor jazz blues almost anything goes. But in this case it looks to me like you're actually creating a pedal tone with the sus chord - if you make that sub, in the key of C you'd have F in every chord: Dm7 (D-F-A-C), Gm7* (G-Bb-D-F), and C7sus (C-F-G-Bb)

* - I'm not sure if you meant to use the lower case v or if you wanted V7 - but it's a pedal tone either way!

While I'm thinking of it, here are a few more things you can play around with using diminished chords:

1. Since they're symmetrical, they can be used as pivots between distant keys. Let's say you want to jump from the key of C to the key of Gb. You could go Cmaj7 -> Dm7 -> G#º -> Gbmaj7. You're entering the º7 chord as a sub for G7, and coming out of it as if it were a sub for Db7 (G#º = G#-B-D-F; Db7 = Db-F-Ab-Cb - you can see the enharmonic equivalents)

2. You can lead into a ii chord from a biiº. bii and #i being enharmonic, this is easier to spell as C#º in the key of C: C#-E-G-Bb -> D-F-A-C. You can see all the half-step motions that make this sound pretty smooth.

3. You can sub a º7 chord for an altered 9 dominant. In C, you've got:

G7b9 = G-B-D-F-Ab... Bº = the top 4 notes, so this is actually just a simplification
G7#9 = G-B-D-F-A#... you've still got the BDF º triad in there, and the A# will either move up a half step (i.e. change to B in a Cmaj7) or down (change to Dm7 and you've kept the D and F, used the B as a leading tone to C, and dropped the A# to A). It might even stay the same - if the G7 is a secondary dominant, the A# simply gets renamed as Bb in the C7 that will follow.

4. It makes a great passing chord from IV7 to V7:

F-A-C-E -> F#-A-C-E -> G-B-D-F... nice chromatic root movement, keeping tension in each chord
Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL
User avatar
NoteBoat
Musically Insane
 
Posts: 5607
Joined: August 9th, 2003, 8:48 pm
Location: SW of Chicago

Postby almann1979 » October 10th, 2010, 11:23 am

Noteboat - i really feel like i should be paying for this kind of information - thanks for taking the time to give such a full explanation!

I wont pretend i understand it all at the minute, but what i can guarentee is that this thread is linked in my favourites on my web browser and it will form the basis of my practice for the next week - i am determined to get this down.

I am going to make a determined effort to post a video link reply to this thread in about 2 weeks, of me using the diminished chords in blues and jazz - it wont be flash or impressive, but i really hope that it will highlight that i have understood what you have said - thanks again.
Al
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)
User avatar
almann1979
Guitarnoise Denizen
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 10:52 am
Location: Lancashire, England

Postby tummai » October 12th, 2010, 10:02 pm

Cool thread. I'll be working through this one for this week's practices as well :)

NoteBoat wrote:1. I'm not sure what you're doing with the blues progression that's throwing you off as a sub for V7 - it sounds fine to my ears. If you're doing a blues in E, your chords might be E, A, and Cº (a half step up from B7). Just strum straight through that a few times and see if your ears don't get used to it.


My ears aren't digging it when I have the C in the bass (long-term memory plays a role in music too :) ), but if I voice it higher up in the chord it sounds cool.

Also, blues makes extensive use of dissonance. In fact, it's built right in - a blues in A has C# and E in the tonic chord, while the scale has C natural and Eb. Because of this, you can use a dissonance ANYWHERE in a blues!


I never thought about this before but you're right. So I guess it would be alright to stick a C# or E into a solo over the tonic A chord.
tummai
newbie
 
Posts: 10
Joined: September 13th, 2010, 10:25 pm
Location: Himeji, Japan

Postby almann1979 » January 21st, 2011, 1:01 pm

Oh dear - i promised a video, it hasnt arrived. In fact, i feel like I am slipping backwards in my understanding of this topic :cry:

I have been trying encorporate diminished arpeggio's into my lead playing, because i am keen on the idea they repeat every 3 frets, and like the idea that i can use this to extend the length of my arpeggio's.

I fired up a backing track in C, and as far as i know, the diminished chord in a C scale is the B. B But when i move my arpeggio up/down 3 frets the notes change and slip out of the scale.


My diminished arpeggio for the B chord contains B, D, F. Moving them up and Down 3 frets, adds a G# into the mix - which i understand is a minor 3rd away from the B and F notes, and therefores complete the diminished chord. But G# is not in the scale of C major?

If I was, for example, trying to creat a sweep picking lick over a progression in C, could I still use this arpeggio shape and move it around 3 frets either way?? is the G# adding colour to the sound?

i guess what i am asking, is if I was playing in a certain key, but wanted to use a diminished sweep that i could move around, 3 frets either way, how would i know which diminished arpeggio i could use for that key?

These questions must sound a bit dumb, especially after all the great help and tips I have already been given on this thread, but i am genuinley struggling to grasp how to use these practically.

thanks, AL
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)
User avatar
almann1979
Guitarnoise Denizen
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 10:52 am
Location: Lancashire, England

Postby NoteBoat » January 21st, 2011, 4:33 pm

Well, the G# completes the diminished 7th... and in a major key, there's always going to be one note in a º7 chord that's "outside" the key.

I think I'd mentioned this before... but since they're naturally dissonant (they contain not one, but two tritones!), they're easiest to use over dissonant chords - typically, that's your dominant 7th.

So if you're in C, you have a G7 chord. Playing G# against this gives you a b9 interval - because G# is enharmonic to Ab. So you're getting an altered dominant sound: G7b9. And that can repeat every three frets. But I'd play all FOUR of the notes in the arpeggio: G#-B-D-F; that way it won't sound like you're leaving something out as you change to the next inversion.
Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL
User avatar
NoteBoat
Musically Insane
 
Posts: 5607
Joined: August 9th, 2003, 8:48 pm
Location: SW of Chicago

Postby almann1979 » January 22nd, 2011, 11:30 am

once again, thanks for the help. What you are saying does make sense now i have sat a tried to digest it - using it in a practical setting to create melodic music and not just the sound of repeated arpeggio's is something that im really not sure that i will be able to crack any time soon though :D

thanks again, Al
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)
User avatar
almann1979
Guitarnoise Denizen
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 10:52 am
Location: Lancashire, England

Postby almann1979 » April 3rd, 2012, 10:51 am

Hello' me again :D

So I have worked on this and although I now feel comfortable choosing diminished arpeggio's to use over specific chords, I am trying to find something that is "key specific". I.e. A diminished arpeggio I could use say, in Aminor and move it around to create longer runs like you might hear in heavy metal

The best fit I can find for A minor, or c major is a diminished arpeggio with G#, f, d and b. Obviously the G# is out of key, but the others are not particularly strong tones either.

I also realise that heavy metal is often Phrygian based, and so starting on the flat second can work well, but, in a rock setting, on a basic rock progression, which notes would be the best diminished fit for let's say, a plain old A minor progression, that could be played over more than one of the chords?

Thanks, Al
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)
User avatar
almann1979
Guitarnoise Denizen
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 10:52 am
Location: Lancashire, England

Postby NoteBoat » April 3rd, 2012, 6:57 pm

That's a perfect example of a strategy I laid out earlier: using a diminished as a substitution for a dominant 7th.

If you're in Am, your V7 chord is E7. The G# may be 'out of key' (in terms of matching the key signature), but it fits the scale perfectly - you're using A harmonic minor (or A melodic minor, which also has G#)

Earlier in the thread I showed you how to substitute for a dominant 7th: you raise the root of the chord. E7 has the notes E-G#-B-D; raising E a half step gives you F-G#-B-D... the arpeggio you're using.
Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL
User avatar
NoteBoat
Musically Insane
 
Posts: 5607
Joined: August 9th, 2003, 8:48 pm
Location: SW of Chicago

Postby almann1979 » April 3rd, 2012, 11:19 pm

Thanks Noteboat, I hope you dont think I hadn't read what you posted last time, as I certainly did.

Sometimes however, my lack of familiarity with musical terms can make it a little harder for me to fully understand what is being said to me.

As always, I do appreciate your help.

Thanks, Al
"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)
User avatar
almann1979
Guitarnoise Denizen
 
Posts: 1278
Joined: March 4th, 2008, 10:52 am
Location: Lancashire, England

Next