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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys. Long story short I've only recently gotten back into music. My theory is lacking... Yesterday I stumbled across Diminished scales, and learned that Brecker, Coltrane ETC used them during their solo's.
I understand how to construct them. Half/Whole Whole/Half. - I was playing with them today and they sound wonderful! I'm trying to figure out a quick rule of thumb as to how I can incorporate them over Dominant 7 chord and Minor 7 Chords.
Example
E 7 - Would I play an E Half/Whole diminished over this? Or would I play an A Half/Whole diminished since this Chord is in the Key of A? Or is it something completely different? And what about Whole/Half diminished?

Thank you so much! I appreciate your help.
 

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I'm not a theory guru, but my experience with these scales is they can be mixed in as long as you don't seriously step on the harmony leading tones. A scale sound or chromaticism can be used as a vehicle to take you outside for some tension and then reel it in for some resolution too. The E dim scale you mentioned works for me, but to my ears the A half dim over E7 sounds muddled because G natural and D sharp clash with E7
 

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I have just started to explore this diminished path. I don't have that much pratice time so most of it goes in working my bigband charts. But stiil I like to do scales and arpeggios to hopefully gain some fluency whilst playing other things. The diminished is now added to this because I also do like the sounds and I think it works great with lots of approach note lines. So also new to me, but for starters the concensus seems to be whole/half over dim and half/whole over dominant.

Check this site and use the pdf's provided to get some first insights.

https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/blog/learning-jazz/jazz-theory/24-diminished-scale/
 

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Yes generally you would apply the half/whole starting from the root of a 7th chord.
If you add a b9 to a dom7 chord you have the diminished chord right in there.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes generally you would apply the half/whole starting from the root of a 7th chord.
If you add a b9 to a dom7 chord you have the diminished chord right in there.
if Half/Whole of the root works on a 7th Chord, would the Whole/Half of the root work on a Minor 7th Chord? After posting this I tried playing a Whole/Half E diminished over Impressions (E-7chord) it sounded pretty awesome! I did the sam thing for F-7 I played a Whole/Half F diminished.
 

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if Half/Whole of the root works on a 7th Chord, would the Whole/Half of the root work on a Minor 7th Chord? After posting this I tried playing a Whole/Half E diminished over Impressions (E-7chord) it sounded pretty awesome! I did the sam thing for F-7 I played a Whole/Half F diminished.
You will have a lot of dissonance there because the 5th of B and the b7 of D is not in the scale. If your ok with the "outness", go for it.........
 

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You can play whatever you want over the V dominant, it’s the I where you have to be careful.
That being said, sometimes I’ll carry the V into the I before resolving it.
My approach at this point is play whatever you want at anytime as long as you have a good sound, good time feel and conviction.
 

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You can play whatever you want over the V dominant, it’s the I where you have to be careful.
That being said, sometimes I’ll carry the V into the I before resolving it.
My approach at this point is play whatever you want at anytime as long as you have a good sound, good time feel and conviction.
That is the goal. It's a weird progression, for me, and I'm in this awkward stage where my ear still sucks but it's getting better and I'm starting to hear things before I play them... rather than focus on "Oh crap what notes sound good over this chord"

But hey, you've gotta start somewhere, and theory is as good a place as any. But to Whaler's point, yes, the goal is to play whatever you hear in your head and make it sound good.

Edit- I wanted to add, the idea is to get the SOUND in your mind and then be able to hear it in advance during a tune, then play it. The only way to do that is to play the scales inside and out until that sound quality becomes a part of what you play naturally. You'll eventually begin to hear where to place it. I hope this makes sense.
 

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On the dominant 7th chords, I think the half step from the root and use that Dim scale.

So over an E7, I go up a half step and use the F diminished.

Thats because the E7 already has the G#, B, and D in there.

If you think of the E7 with a b9, the F, G#, B, and D outline the Dim scale to use.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you so much for all of your replies guys! I'm checking out the 'licks and links as we speak:)
What do you suggest works best over Minor 7 Chords? Example, E-7
 

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Thank you so much for all of your replies guys! I'm checking out the 'licks and links as we speak:)
What do you suggest works best over Minor 7 Chords? Example, E-7
E diminished would be fine in a lot of cases - E F# G A Bb C Db D# (EDITED), but with a lot of these things it can all depend on context - ie where the harmony has been and where it's going.

As many people know I dislike this concept of scales to fit a chord. The diminished can be an exception where dominant 7s are concerned because the patterns can be quite cool (as opposed to just using it as a scale run)
 

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E diminished would be fine in a lot of cases - E F# G A Bb B C# D, but with a lot of these things it can all depend on context - ie where the harmony has been and where it's going.

As many people know I dislike this concept of scales to fit a chord. The diminished can be an exception where dominant 7s are concerned because the patterns can be quite cool (as opposed to just using it as a scale run)
E diminished would be E F# G A Bb C Db Eb, wouldn't it?
 

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E diminished would be E F# G A Bb C Db Eb, wouldn't it?
Yes, typo fixed. It's the C natural and Db that is the main reason for me pointing out how important the actual context is. Of course D# will work well on Em7 as a sort of leading note - again context and emphasises why it's so important to be wary of scales for chords. Some players can make that sound great, but not something for a beginner to just slap onto a chord.

But as I said, the dominant 7 can work in many contexts and has fewer pitfalls for the beginner improviser (although you need to be wary if it's a V7 in a minor key).
 

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Yes, typo fixed. It's the C natural and Db that is the main reason for me pointing out how important the actual context is
All good! And I agree with you on the scale thing (I think you know how I feel about "chord scales") in that for diminished it's different and there are many hip lines you can make just using that scale!
 

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As others have pointed out, use the Half/Whole diminished scale over a dominant chord (starting on the root). However, I wouldn't normally just run the scale up & down. Various patterns (like the one Pete gave, and there are others) work great on a diminished scale due to its symmetrical nature. So you have to really drill those patterns to be able to apply them. In most cases you'd be dealing with a V7(b9) chord moving to the I, so it's important to resolve to the I chord, usually by a half step. And never lose sight of the dominant chord tones that you are playing over.
 

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One more thought on a diminished on a minor 7.

I mentioned using the scale based on the root, e.g. E diminished with Em7.

This makes total sense if the scale carries over to the V7 of a IIm7 - V7 because that E diminished on the E min 7 is of course the same notes as the Bb diminished I would advocate for the ensuing A7. And often we might just play or think V7 over a IIm7 - V7 anyway, ie instead of Em7 - A7 just think A7. (But be careful as I said in a minor key, if the A7 is going to Dmin, then the F# of the dim scale can sound a bit wonky in many cases.

So it's all good man.
 

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A diminished scale applied to an altered dominant that has +9/b9 and a perfect 5th works fine. If C7+9, use a C# diminished scale -- to me thinking of a diminished scale starting with a half step isn't what diminished scales are, but obviously, mileage may vary. If there's also a +5/b5 (and there usually is) for a C7+9+5 use an E lydian augmented scale -- starting from C, C-C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#(Bb)-C.

I'd say to keep in mind that this is kind of a primer approach, mostly about ear training, and in the end you'd want to think of it in terms of there's a C7+9+5 chord being played, improvise on the notes that sound good with that. Play patterns mostly to move from one range to another, and have them lead into something that's less pattern and more melodic. But starting with chord/scale applications and patterns is, in my opinion, totally the right approach.
 

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One way to generate patterns with the half/whole diminished scale is to take the 4 notes of the diminished chord and play them in turn with the note a whole step below.

For example, take the E dim chord: E G Bb Db

Play E, drop down a whole step to D, then likewise, G to F, Bb to Ab, Db (C#) to B. If you look at Pete's example, you'll see that pattern in there. Depending on how you move those around you can generate different patterns and they will fit E7, G7, Bb7, Db7 chords.

That sounds pretty convoluted but if you play around with it you'll see what I mean (hopefully).
 
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