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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have heard that a good exercise for players new to improvisation is to practice ascending locrian and then descending diminished.

Using C maj as an example I would play B locrian ascending:

B C D E F G A B

And B dim descending:

B A G# F# F D# D C# B

Can anyone tell me whether they've heard of this exercise and does it have merit in jazz improvisation? Thank you.
 

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Ascending Major Pentatonic
Descending Minor Pentatonic ...is much more useful, if not ubiquitous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Nefertiti,
I meant to use the diminished scale only when descending.

hgiles,
That sounds like a neat exercise, too. I'm going to give that a try.
 

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Nefertiti,
I meant to use the diminished scale only when descending.

hgiles,
That sounds like a neat exercise, too. I'm going to give that a try.
Well, you wrote it wrong descending. There are really 2 diminished scales. One that starts (ascending) with a half step and one that starts (ascending) with a whole step. When people say diminished, they usually mean the one that starts with a whole step.

In the case of "B", that would be:

Ascending: B C# D E F G G# A# B
Descending: B A# G# G F E D C# B

The scale you wrote is closer to the one that starts with a half step except that it has a C# instead of a C natural. The one that starts with a half step would be:

Ascending: B C D Eb F F# G# A B
Descending: B A G# F# F Eb D C B

As you have it, there are 3 half steps together with the C# D and D#.

I'll go with Neff and say I've never heard of the exercise and despite what merits it could have, it seems a little too complicated for the novice improviser.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Okay, I thought a diminshed scale was whole step, half step, etc., whether ascending or descending.
 

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Okay, I thought a diminshed scale was whole step, half step, etc., whether ascending or descending.
No, because you can see, if you go up and you start with a whole step, it's a different set of notes than if you go down and start with a whole step. Whatever diminished scale you play, it's the same set of notes going up and coming down. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Agent27,

Thanks, I get what you're saying. I guess I've just exposed yet another one of my false impressions. More to come, that's for sure!
 

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2Tonic: playing B Locrian over a C major chord seems a bit overcomplicated, since B Locrian is just the C major scale. The only time I would think about using a locrian sound would be over a half-diminished chord, and even then, my ear gravitates toward a Locrian#2 (6th mode of melodic minor) sound. So over a B half-diminished chord, I'd be playing around with B, C#, D, E, F, G, A. Try it.
 

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Okay, I thought a diminshed scale was whole step, half step, etc., whether ascending or descending.
Actually that's correct, but what you wrote: ("B A G# F# F D# D C# B") is not alternating whole & half steps. Note the 3 half steps, descending: D# D C#. Maybe it was a typo, which is an easy mistake to make. In any case, the first step of B diminished in a descending pattern would be a half step: B A#...

I'll have to try your exercise and see how it sounds. That's the bottom line: does it sound good? I think what you're looking at is a sound that could work over a G7 chord or more likely, the ii-V change Dmin to G7. B "locrian" has the same notes as G mixolydian or D dorian, and B diminished is the same scale as G diminished, starting on a half step (which 'fits' over G7).

So,
Why not just think of it as D dorian and G dim (starting on a half step)? Then relate it to a Dmin - G7 change. I think....

Update: Ok, I just tried it and it does sound very cool, and I could see using it over Dmin - G7, leading to Cmaj or C7. The descending B dim would be:

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

To me it sounded best to move up to C# then descend:
B C D E F G A B C# B A# G#, etc. End it on G natural or another chord tone of C. I would think of the B (in the B dim scale) as the major third of a G7 chord, for simplicity (and accuracy).

You'll have to mess with this rhythmically and melodically to some extent to make it fit a ii-V change. But I guess it would be good to start by just running the scales up and down.

I don't think this is a particularly useful exercise for players new to improvisation, though.

p.s. I made several edits to this post, so hopefully it didn't get too convoluted. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can chime in.
 

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It seems like it could work well over B-7b5 / E7b9
Yes, in the relative minor key of Amin. Looks like this loc/dim exercise works over a ii-V in a minor key and in its relative major key. So in this case:

Bmin7b5 / E7b9 (resolving to Amin)

or

Dmin7 / G7b9 (resolving to Cmaj)

So, to answer one of the OP's questions, I think it has merit in jazz improvisation. But I need to look at it in terms of the chords if I'm going to put it to use.
 
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