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  1. #1

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    Hey guys,
    So I've been playing with dimisned triads and it struck me how many combinations of chords and chord substitutions it can have.
    If we take for example D dim triad (D, F, Ab) I figured out 16 chord substitutions:
    Ddim, Bdim, Fdim, Abdim, G7(b9) Db7(b9), Bb7(b9), E7(b9), Bb7, C#7, G7, E7, Fm, Fm6, Fm13, Dmin7(b5).

    I used these substituions in a simple musical context in the key of C, chord progression: Fmaj7 | G7 | Cmaj7, and I played these substitutions on a V chord (instead of G7).

    Are there any other combinations? How do I figure them out? Why are there so many substitutions for dimished triad?

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  3. #2

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    D dim resolves to Cmaj7
    All inversions of D dim will too

    Notice that the roots of your sub chords make up the D whole-half diminished scale, so in order:

    D E F G G# A# B C# D or using flats D E F G Ab Bb B Db D

    Notice that if you form the D dim chord and shift it up the neck so its root follows the notes above (D whole-half diminished scale), it self harmonizes. Furthermore, any of those chords also resolves to Cmaj7.

    D dim half-whole is D D# F G# A B C D or using flats D Eb F Gb Ab A B C D

    Switch to D dim half-whole and discover the same thing - it self harmonizes and all chords resolve to Cmaj7. This will reveal more substitutions.

    Now, notice that combining the D dim w-h and D dim h-w ends up including all 12 chromatic tones.

    Now, realize that there is nothing special about Cmaj7... all dim chords resolve in all keys.

  4. #3

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    Just my 50 cents here, but, diminished is always right and always wrong. Because it is such an unstable thing.

    if you take the whole arpeggio 1-b3-b5-6, in any case there will be some consonant notes and some dissonant notes.

    There are only three diminished scales, let’s derive the diminished arpeggio on Cmaj7
    Cdim sounds the consonant notes: 1-#11(well, it’s kind of consonant) and 6
    Dbdim sounds the consonant notes: 3-5
    Ddim sounds the consonant notes 9(or2), 11(consonant as passing note to the third) and 7

    Use every possible dim against every possible chord and resolve it properly...? You will sound like Beirach, Hancock or Andy Laverne, John Abercrombie or Scofield.
    a propos, you can do the same with every symmetrical scale, like whole tone, augmented too.
    Then, you will sound like Wayne Shorter, Marc Copland or Bill Frisell.

    Why doesn’t everyone do it? Well, because of what Hancock says: playing out is easy, it’s getting back in that’s hard. Without thinking about other connotations, I think,he is so right. If you blur the harmony, it is hard to come up with a note that helps you clear up the sky and bring you back in.

    as a musician, super-imposing diminished is easy, but making it sound right by resolving it smoothly is hard. And, if you’re an intermediate musician like me, it’s easy to get lost or off track, lose your sense of direction, get confused, become really self conscious. And if these feelings are not addressed the right way, you could end up becoming a bass player or even worse.
    Last edited by Djang; 05-20-2020 at 10:50 PM.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by jetaman
    Hey guys,
    So I've been playing with dimisned triads and it struck me how many combinations of chords and chord substitutions it can have.
    If we take for example D dim triad (D, F, Ab) I figured out 16 chord substitutions:
    Ddim, Bdim, Fdim, Abdim, G7(b9) Db7(b9), Bb7(b9), E7(b9), Bb7, C#7, G7, E7, Fm, Fm6, Fm13, Dmin7(b5).

    I used these substituions in a simple musical context in the key of C, chord progression: Fmaj7 | G7 | Cmaj7, and I played these substitutions on a V chord (instead of G7).

    Are there any other combinations? How do I figure them out? Why are there so many substitutions for dimished triad?
    take apart the diminished scale and see how many other chords you can find

    C dim scale....(there are only three diminished scales...C Db D)

    C D Eb F Gb Ab A B (hint..D7#9....D Gb C F)

    have fun

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jetaman
    Are there any other combinations? How do I figure them out? Why are there so many substitutions for dimished triad?

    To put what you've discovered another way, if you drop any note of a dim chord 1/2 step you get a dominant 7th chord. By itself, a dim can be heard as a rootless dominant b9. So, an easy sub is a dim chord 1/2 step above the expected dominant.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    D dim resolves to Cmaj7

    ... all dim chords resolve in all keys.
    Do you personally take it so far as to move any of the 3 diminished chords to resolve to every single diatonic chord in all 12 keys? In other words, any diminished chord may resolve to any chord.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    Do you personally take it so far as to move any of the 3 diminished chords to resolve to every single diatonic chord in all 12 keys? In other words, any diminished chord may resolve to any chord.
    I like the question... Let me think about it.

  9. #8

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    I think so, I can resolve as such:

    D dim to C maj
    C#dim to C maj
    C dim to C maj

    That can be extrapolated to any chords
    Last edited by rintincop; 05-21-2020 at 09:42 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    I think so, I can resolve as such:

    D dim to C maj
    C#dim to C maj
    C dim to C maj

    That can be extrapolated tho any chords
    I will agree with that....considering the nature of symmetric harmony-- scales/chords..and how they can "morph" into other chords/scale fragments if need be...
    and played with wide voicings you can hide some of that predictable diminished sound...

  11. #10

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    Ddim7 to Cmaj
    C#dim7 to Cmaj (the trickiest)
    C dim7 to Cmaj

  12. #11

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    As proof of concept, I recorded something on Autumn Leaves trying to show how you can superimpose any diminished on any chord and why it sounds out and in at the same time. It’s symmetrical, so never totally tonal, nor atonal.
    I overdo it and the playing could have been better if I had Scofield’s chops or Benson’s skill, but I hope it sheds some light on diminished.
    in my youtube description I explain what I used where... but as to the “why”? I can only answer the same thing: symmetrical scales are abstract artefacts and don’t respond to chord scale restrictions. Even though Berklee and Harris did great jobs at theorizing diminished, I think Hancock, Shorter, Coltrane already moved beyond these concepts in the early sixties.


  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Djang
    As proof of concept, I recorded something on Autumn Leaves trying to show how you can superimpose any diminished on any chord and why it sounds out and in at the same time. It’s symmetrical, so never totally tonal, nor atonal.
    I overdo it and the playing could have been better if I had Scofield’s chops or Benson’s skill, but I hope it sheds some light on diminished.
    in my youtube description I explain what I used where... but as to the “why”? I can only answer the same thing: symmetrical scales are abstract artefacts and don’t respond to chord scale restrictions. Even though Berklee and Harris did great jobs at theorizing diminished, I think Hancock, Shorter, Coltrane already moved beyond these concepts in the early sixties.

    thats very cool, only comment is I can’t quite hear the backing track well enough to get the concept in relation to the changes and time

  14. #13

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    It sounds quite good if you use the dim scale that has the 3rd and 7th of the underlying chord. Or any scale tbh.

  15. #14

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    The other thing is resolution itself is a rhythmic concept. It’s obvious where you can resolve to a major or minor chord for instance in terms of pitch choice and it’s easy to understand the idea that you might want resolve a line by a step or half step, but the thing that you have to do is to learn to hear ahead into the resolution.

    Usually when I hear some one struggling with using the dim scale or whatever it’s because they simply don’t join the phrase through into its resolution. It’s like a joke without a punchline.

    This is where building phrases backwards note by note from the resolution is a great idea.

  16. #15

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    To be sure, I thought “key” not chord, so I thought about the key of G and the key of Em. I know it’s the same if you take Em as sounding Aeolian. And that last choice accomodates the minor II-V-I just nicely.

    But since I consider the Im chord as being melodic minor or dorian, I used that idea. Provides a nice rub against the 2-5.

    about the mix, I use headphones by Beats and they are very bass heavy. My mix never sounds good. And I blame dr Dre!

    When I transcribe stuff or try to play transcriptions I notice that the great modern players often play “key” over progressions like Rhythm changes, 2-5-1’s or 3-6-2-5-1’s. They are not targeting all the chords. That makes room for some modern harmony, like symmetrical scales or, with Chick Corea for the use of weird scales like Neapolitan minor or major. Mixed with traditional harmony.

    People like Gary Thomas or Allan Holdsworth do the same in songs with traditional harmony. They superimpose their Messiaen scales on the “key”, not the chord.

    At least, that’s how I understand what they do. If I analyse a transcription twice or more (Kenny Kirkland, Herbie Hancock, Scofield), I come up with different explanations altogether. It’s not straightforward, is it?

    If you follow Steve Neff, he has this video about superimposing the Coltrane matrix. Though it sounds great, he stresses that he makes random choices of where and on what chord he starts a Coltrane sequence in a standard tune. i don’t play the Trane sequence well enough to demonstrate it, but Steve makes a great case for this kind of approach.

  17. #16

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    That explains it... I’m listening on a phone lol..

    But that said remember people listen to things casually on a mobile device. Mix to your phone and laptop speakers, always if you are sending a demo out for gigs always... it sucks, but there you are.

    Anyway that makes sense. There’s an interview where Sco is asked what he would play over Protocol - he says he thinks of it as weird G minor.

    Still for stuff with ‘vamp like’ elements alongside moving harmony such as Speak no Evil or Limehouse Blues it makes sense to dip in and out of these options.

    As for the Giant Steps cycle - if you focus on the resolution...

    but this is not a modern approach in itself, more a development of the traditional approach, which is to play changes or ideas in the key - not necessarily what’s in the chart. (Education ties itself in knots imagining changes playing is about realising the chord scales of chord symbols. It is not.)

    So on a blues we play the blues.

    That might not mean the exact changes that fit the head. Or it may of course mean the blues scale. Or it may mean some complex bop sub of the changes. Or it could mean some weird scale... or giant steps changes

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Djang
    As proof of concept, I recorded something on Autumn Leaves trying to show how you can superimpose any diminished on any chord and why it sounds out and in at the same time. It’s symmetrical, so never totally tonal, nor atonal.
    I overdo it and the playing could have been better if I had Scofield’s chops or Benson’s skill, but I hope it sheds some light on diminished.
    in my youtube description I explain what I used where... but as to the “why”? I can only answer the same thing: symmetrical scales are abstract artefacts and don’t respond to chord scale restrictions. Even though Berklee and Harris did great jobs at theorizing diminished, I think Hancock, Shorter, Coltrane already moved beyond these concepts in the early sixties.
    ahhh yes ..shades of Sco...a bit of polish on this kind of stuff and we will need sunglasses ...good work