Help with chord-scale relationship

(18 posts)

No tags yet.

  1. david6strings

    hello guys i know all of you have played over all the things you are progressions, so i have i question for you if you want to help me. it's about the passing chord when the tune sounds: Dbmaj7 Db-7 C-7 Bº7 Bb-7 . the question is about the diminished chord as you could guess. im limited to play the arpeggio because i don't understand what's going on. someone can spell the tones of a theoric scale for that chord?
    cheers and thank you for your posts, i enjoy a lot reading this forum

  2. jorgemg1984

    Hi david,

    That progressions its used a lot in jazz - IIIm7 bIIIdim IIm7 (Kurt uses that on All or Nothing at All, he add the bIIIdim after the IIm7 and then goes back to the IIm7). The scale you d have to use there would be a diminished scale (1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 bb7 7) (B C# D E F G G#A#). You can also think of it as Bb7(b9,#9,#11,13) with the root on the b9, that would give you a diminished dominant scale (1 b2 #2 3 #4 5 6 b7) with the root on Bb (Bb B C# D E F G Ab) - this last one may be easier because its easier to think of a dominant chord, even with alterations, and because its easier to see the common tones with the next chord, Bbm7 (dorian scale) chord.

    The diminished scale its a hard one and its a symetrical one (step half step in the first one and half step step in the last one). Most people use patterns (check Coltrane p.e) or triads / pairs of triads on that chord - or even the basic diminshed chord as you were saying.

    Beware because sometimes diminished chords are dominant b9b13 (fifth scale of harmonic minor) disguised in first inversion (last scale of harmonic minor). Checj Jobim tunes for that (Corcovado, Insensatez, Retrato em Branco e Preto, etc...). In this cases the diminshed scale its not a valid option.

    Good luck

  3. Poparad

    What jorge said.

  4. docbop

    I would say most the time dim chords functioning as rootless 7b9 chords and can be treated as such.

  5. jorgemg1984

    I agree but you have to see what dominant chord it implies - a mixolydian b9b13 from harmonic minor or a diminshed dominant (half step whole step scale). They are really different chords and are used in different situations.

  6. david6strings

    both symetrical diminished scales seems to work for my ears. the seventh mode of the harmonic minor is not bad too, is it right? and someone told me it could even be understood as the upperstructure of a diminished chord a step lower i mean Aº7 . my god this now make me hear it as v7/II altered version. lol isn't it crazy? anyway what jorge said has been helpful thanks

  7. jorgemg1984

    In that specyfic case (all the things) the harmonic one its not a good choice, go for the symetrical. I had never heard that one about the upper strucurte, that chord actually comes from the Idim Imaj7 progression, used a lot in jazz (check Spring Is Here, I Wish I Knew, original Stella etc...).

    Because diminished chords repeat themselves a minor third apart, Idim Imaj7 = bIIIdim Imaj7/III (the one on all the things you are and a lot of other tunes) = #IVdim Imaj7/V (this last one you can found on You d be so nice to come home to). Thats where it comes from i guess.

    When you have doubts about a chord scale a good option is to get 3 ou 4 good versions of the tune and check what they play on that part - its the quickest way to get a chord scale when you dont know it.


  8. gleepglop

    "In that specyfic case (all the things) the harmonic one its not a good choice, go for the symetrical."

    I'm curious why you say that. I think that for most people, the symmetrical diminished tends to interrupt the melodic flow and break the thematic continuity of the solo. In this case, the E natural of the symmetrical scale is a fairly "out" note in the key (#5) and chord progression (all the surrounding chords have Eb's), and will sound pretty bad if not handled carefully.

    Of course, it can be extremely effective, it just takes a while to get it to become a natural part of one's playing (and it's worth the effort).

    One way of approaching non-diatonic chords is to take the notes in the key and just alter the ones you need for the chord in question. This usually results in the smoothest sounding scale transition from a melodic perspective. Another nice thing about this approach is that it works without having to analyze the function of the chord.

    In this case, we're in Ab, so we have: Ab Bb C Db Eb F G

    Bo7 has: B D F Ab. F and Ab are already in the key, so B and D are the notes that we need.

    B falls between Bb and C, so we can either raise the Bb to B, or lower the C to B.
    D falls between Db and Eb, so we can either raise the Db to D, or lower the Eb to B.

    This yields the following combinations:

    Ab B C D Eb F G (aka C harmonic minor)
    Ab B C Db D F G (this one is weird, but interestingly chromatic)
    Ab Bb B D Eb F G (aka Eb harmonic major or F melodic minor #4)
    Ab Bb B Db D F G (this is a subset of the diminished scale: missing the 4th, E)

    You can also create an interesting 8-note scale by using Db, D, and Eb:

    Ab Bb B Db D Eb F G (F melodic minor add #4) --this works like a "bebop scale" if you start on the beat with a chord tone.

    This approach often yields interesting results that deviate from typical scale choices.

    Without dealing with scales, you can also explore approach tones and enclosures in relation to the chord tones, so you're not just playing a dim7 arpeggio. It's also interesting to explore the 4 diminished triads that you can use.

  9. jorgemg1984

    Yes you can use G b9b13 (C harmonic minor) on the Bdim and think of it as a decptive resolution to Bbm7 instead of Cm7, but I hear that diminished chord as a high tension point, thats why i prefer the symetrical - and for me its a Abdim chord on 1st inv not a G b9b13. Some notes are pretty out of the key but thats the same when you play altered or symetrical on a V7 chord of a major key (with the altered scale you ll get 4 notes out of the key).

    Of course you can just add diatonic tones to the arpeggio but you will end up with endless scales for all the diminished chords and they are usally fast - and you dont need a scale with three half steps to play chromaticism.

    For me I reduce all diminished chords to dom7 chords - mixolydian b9b13 or symetrical - its much more easier than having four different scales for all the diminshed chords that you can have on a key (and you have 12 keys).

    Playing just the arpeggio and all the chromatics you can add to it its also a good option if you want chromatics.

  10. Poparad

    I'm also in the symmetrical camp for All the Things. Harmonic minor, on any of the four dominant 7ths the Bdim7 could be masked as, don't resolve in a logical way to my ears.

  11. gleepglop

    Of course I agree the diminished scale is a viable option, as I said before.

    One of the beautiful things about this music is that we don't all have to hear everything in the same way (or the same every time). Exploring other options might be helpful for some. Or not. It's just information, I'm not holding a gun to anyone's head. Personally, I like having more options and don't feel that I need to choose a 'best' one and use it all the time.

    I trust my ears, and they generally lead me to (IMO) more interesting (and reliable) results than predetermined scales. The 'logic', in my experience, is in the line, not the scale. You can use a 'logical' scale and create an illogical line, and you can use no scale at all and create a logical line. Really, all 12 notes are always available. One can play logical lines using any of the scale choices mentioned.

    An alternative approach (which I confess I think should be the primary approach) is to sing lines over the changes and figure out what you're hearing, and figure out scales from that if necessary.

    A small but (IMO) important point, in reference to jorgemg1984, I suggested embellishing chord tones, which is not the same as arpeggios. Arpeggios are a kind of chord tone playing, but you can play off chord tones without playing any arpeggios.

    This is all just from my experience, feel free to disregard if it's not to your liking.

  12. jorgemg1984

    I agree with you, i ment to talk about singing trough the progression and see what you got and forgot.

    I just said that because I feel dimished chords are by far the most difficult ones and most people dont understand them - anda for me they are really just two different scales, creating a lot of scales for them just slows down things. The best guide is always yout ears of course.

    Embelishing chord tones is not the same as arpeggios and both are good options for any chord, not just dimished.

    Hearing what people play there, i say this again, is the best way to go - and there are so many tunes with IIIm7 bIIIdim IIm7 thats really easy to check that out.

  13. jazznan

    That progression is the last few bars of "All the Things You Are", in that case you have the notes B, D, F, G, Ab (G#) (melody note), you've got 5 notes there for sure, use your ear...what sounds good? Or rather, what can you make sound good besides these for sure notes, B, D, F, G, Ab

  14. JorgeRubiales

    You might also choose the "strong" notes in one chromatic line resulting from that chord progression. The line goes from F to Db, so the strong notes would be F, Eb and Db (the ones that fall in a downbeat).

    The other chromatic line comes from C to Ab, so the strong notes of this line would be C, Bb and Ab. If we take both lines we have F Eb Db C Bb Ab, and to me that sounds like Ab major.

    So, you might play Ab major through the progression, adding chromaticism when the passing chords come.

  15. arewolfe

    Hi David. The problem with diminished chords is figuring out how to approach them, because you have so many choices depending on context. By playing both 8 note diminished scales you've already covered all 12 notes! Using both of those scales, you can basically justify playing any note over that chord. You already know this, but just for clarity: in All The Things You Are, Bdiminished7 is the bIII diminished chord in the key of Ab.

    The key is to experiment with different ideas... many of which have been discussed above. Here are some ways you could approach the bIII dim7 chord:

    • Whole-half diminished scale: This scale makes the most sense to me (vs. half-whole) because it contains all the notes of Bb-7, the chord you're moving to. It also give you the major 7th on Bdim7 which is a really beautiful chord. I learned this sound from Kurt's music. This sound can take you to an entirely new idea, which is this...

    • Looking at Bdim7 as a Bb major triad over B in the bass. You could also look at it as Bb7 with B in the bass. This is where the idea of the Bb7[b9, 13] sound comes into the picture. I learned this from Bill Evans' music.

    If you look at Bdim7 chord as a Bb triad over B, you can work with the idea of a Bb major chord moving to a Bb minor chord (Bdim7 going to Bb-7 in the progression from All The Things).

    • You can build major triads off the chord tones of Bdim7 (Bmaj, Dmaj, Fmaj, Abmaj).

    • Try re-harmonizing the Bdim7 chord in the line [Dbmaj7, Db-9, C-7, Bdim7, Bb-7]. You will create fresh ways of playing over it for yourself. You could even try to reharm the whole line... though it's a beautiful set of chords that aren't really asking to be messed with. Re-harmonization can really expand your palette. It's a good way to teach yourself new things through discovery.

    I really like the idea of singing through the chords and exploring what comes out. That will really help you define what you want to say going through that passage from Dbmaj7 to Bb-7.

    In the end, just remember that it is a passing chord.

  16. silverwater

    @gleepglop: Thanks for wrting all that, I love to hear what other people have come up with for chord-scale relationship analysis.

    But could you clarify this: "Ab Bb B Db D Eb F G (F melodic minor add #4) --this works like a "bebop scale" if you start on the beat with a chord tone."

    Do you mean Ab melodic minor add #4? F melodic minor has an e natural...

    This is a scale I "came up with" too, but I always thought of it as Bb Mixolydian b9 #9, because i developed it as a way to play on dominant chords with spice, but keep the nat. 5th and 6th. For me trying to think of this scale as a melodic minor add #4 would be tedious, but hey we've all got our preferences.

    It also works great on a G7 chord in a minor key, it gives you the b5, nat. 5, and #5

  17. silverwater

    @arewolfe: "• You can build major triads off the chord tones of Bdim7 (Bmaj, Dmaj, Fmaj, Abmaj)."

    Typically people would play the triads starting a half step down from each chord tone, since all notes are notes in the diminished scale itself. So over a Bdim7 chord, I'd play Bb, Db, E, and G triads.

    Although triads have such a strong sound you can pretty much play anyone anytime :)

  18. gleepglop

    Ack! what a goof, I don't know why I wrote F, I meant Ab melodic minor. Of course, that clarifies why it is good on G7 . . .

    My first inclinations toward harmonic major were actually in the form of "mixolydian b9", so the added #9 is a logical step from there.
    That relationship is also intuitively close to Bo7.


You must log in to post.