Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 20 of 70 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
397 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was thinking about this, in addition to using the regular dimished (whole and half) scale uses, (like 7b9 and dim7 chords) can you/do you substitute the diminished scale over minor 7th chords in more modal tunes? Do people do this? Which version of the scale would I use scale?

I was recently playing Maiden Voyage with some guys and one guy did this killer solo that was quite out of the box, and when I asked him about substitutions he just said "diminished" but I'm not really understanding it.

It seems there's a million and two interesting things to substitute and play over most tunes and chords (esp dom 7 chords, or take a look at Parker's blues!!), but on more modal minor tunes I struggle more. I get fed up playing Fsharp m7 and Am7 over and over in Maiden Voyage, or equally something like Impressions. What can I do to spice minor chords up and make these tunes more interesting?
Would I use the A half-whole or the A whole step diminished scale over the Am7 chord for example?

Just looking for suggestions as to what others substitute in these tunes.
cheers
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,248 Posts
One cool thing you can try...something I saw in an old Ramon Ricker Pentatonics book...when playing in minor...say A minor...play around with the C major pentatonic then fool around with the C# major pentatonic and then slide back into the C major pentatonic area...it's a nice way to play "out"...
takes some practice but it's a start to the sound you might be trying to get...

R
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
397 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ahh sidestepping. Yea that can be pretty cool if done right.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
1 Explore the other diatonic modes of the scale.

2 Don't play the whole scale.

3 Play the scale in broken intervals -- 3rd, 4ths

4 Pick 3 or 4 notes and invert them and play them every which way you can.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,675 Posts
1 Explore the other diatonic modes of the scale.

2 Don't play the whole scale.

3 Play the scale in broken intervals -- 3rd, 4ths

4 Pick 3 or 4 notes and invert them and play them every which way you can.
hgiles, are you referring to the diminished scale here? I'm not sure you can talk about 'diatonic modes' in terms of a dim scale. Certainly you can play it in many different ways, though.

I'd be really interested in any answers to the OP question (especially the question of applying the dim scale to a minor tonality). I've been working on dim scales lately but am not all that sure about how to apply them, other than on a dom7 chord resolving to the I chord.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
4,856 Posts
2 Don't play the whole scale.
I like this one, the best .

Really, at any given point [on a set of changes] or even in more modal situations, as a couple of examples - you're only using scale fragments;
whether it major, minor, diminished,whole tone, and so on.

For the most part, you want to be aware of how and when you're going to
'resolve' an idea, if what you're playing has more harmonic tension in it
than something more inside(relative term).

I don't want to digress too far though, so ..

In short: yes, [diminshed scale tonality] works over minor 7ths very well.
How you deal with the scale and arrange the intervals in your phrasing is
up to you; naturally .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
887 Posts
To the OP: If you want to play a dim scale over a major or minor tonality, sub the dim scale of the V chord; i.e. over Dmi, play the A dim scale. You can use it to create a temporary V feel, just be careful about your thirds-- in the Dmi example, there's an F# in the A dim scale, you probably don't want to hang out on that note for too long. That's the straightforward way to apply the dim scale, not to say you can't use the other two diminished scales.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
397 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cheers for all the responses so far. As for substituting in the diminished scale for the relative dominant chord: sounds interesting. Which dim scale would that be? The whole step or the half step?

Just so we're all on the same page here there are only 3 diminished scales before they start repeating, but as far as the general uses of them each scale is split up into either the half step dim or the whole step dim, depending on what the starting note is. For example, say on an A7b9 chord you would use the half step dim scale (A, Bb, C, Db, Eb, E, Gb, G, A), where as on an Adim7 chord you would then use the whole step dim scale, (which is based off of the Ab7b9 half step scale), which would then be (A, B, C, D, Eb, F, Gb, Ab).

So I guess that's my original question then a little clearer, (or maybe not! ;) ), on minor chord substitutions, do folks use a diminished scale substitution, and if so, which one? The half or whole step?

And also, Tryptykon you mentioned substituting in whole tone scales as well. Would this be the whole tone scale based off of the minor chord or the relative dominant 7th chord?

cheers everyone, and sorry if this is getting confusing. :)
All the best..
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,675 Posts
If you want to play a dim scale over a major or minor tonality, sub the dim scale of the V chord; i.e. over Dmi, play the A dim scale.
To follow up on what saxdude is asking, are you talking about the A dim scale starting on a whole step (the 'true' A dim scale), or starting on a half step? I think in the case of playing it over V7, if the V7 is an A7 chord, you'd want to play A dim, starting on a half step, to hit the important chord tones.

Regarding simply running the entire dim scale (or any scale) up and down, I don't think that's the question. Hopefully no one is talking about doing that, except when practicing and learning the scale. If I'm not mistaken, saxdude is asking how the dim scale would apply over a minor chord or tonality, or in a modal situation. That's what I'd like to know also.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
hgiles, are you referring to the diminished scale here? I'm not sure you can talk about 'diatonic modes' in terms of a dim scale. Certainly you can play it in many different ways, though.

I'd be really interested in any answers to the OP question (especially the question of applying the dim scale to a minor tonality). I've been working on dim scales lately but am not all that sure about how to apply them, other than on a dom7 chord resolving to the I chord.
Well, no I wasn't referring to any diminished scale. Technically the diminished scale goes 'outside' the tonality and I think trying to teach 'outside' playing is a slippery slope. Too often folks use it as an excuse to not play in the pocket or to not play convincing ideas and motives.

You 'could' play a hw or wh diminished scale on a minor seventh chord, and you could play other minor scales but 'how' you do it is most important. Motivic, intervallic melodies is the way...
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,675 Posts
Well, no I wasn't referring to any diminished scale. Technically the diminished scale goes 'outside' the tonality and I think trying to teach 'outside' playing is a slippery slope. Too often folks use it as an excuse to not play in the pocket or to not play convincing ideas and motives.

You 'could' play a hw or wh diminished scale on a minor seventh chord, and you could play other minor scales but 'how' you do it is most important. Motivic, intervallic melodies is the way...
Right, I agree. But this doesn't answer the question. How to apply the diminished sound.....maybe it can't be answered in any specific way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
I was thinking about this, in addition to using the regular dimished (whole and half) scale uses, (like 7b9 and dim7 chords) can you/do you substitute the diminished scale over minor 7th chords in more modal tunes? Do people do this? Which version of the scale would I use scale?

Just looking for suggestions as to what others substitute in these tunes.
cheers
If I am playing over a static chord progression (modal), I often times use a combination of diminished scales. For instance for a vamp in C minor I might use the C auxiliary diminished scale (half step/whole step) and the C# half step/whole step scales in alternation. The C half step/whole step against a Cm7 chord for instance would give me half or whole step voice leading into chord tones for instance when playing eight notes the chord tones would be C (C#) Eb (E) F# (G) A (Bb).

If I am approaching the tonality with ascending phrases then the previous scale is almost like weaving in and out of the Tonic tonal center and the tritone substitution of the relative dominant V7 chord in the case of C minor I would be thinking in terms of substituting Db7b5b9 for G7. When resolving in a descending pattern or phrase from the G7 I would be thinking in terms of using the Db(C#) half step whole step scale starting on G which because I would be descending would yeild a whole step /half step pattern. In other words if I descend the C#(Db) half step/whole step scale starting on G and descend then the intervals would be inverted. For example G F E D C# B etc. Another way that I choose to use the diminished and auxiliary diminshed scales is to start patterns of the basic or extended chord tones.

Some one also mentioned the wholetone scale and when I do use it or a pattern based upon it I often base the pattern around the third of the tonal center for example Cm7 I would play whole tone patterns on the Eb for instance. This is just a quick answer and by no means thoroughly exhaustive and of course one must think of tension and resolution not just running scales up and down the instrument but this will at least give you an idea of one approach that I have used works for me. I think about the diminished scale and how in the blues the tonality is obscurred with major and minor thirds and try to approach using the diminished scales in a similar manner.

All the Best
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
313 Posts
You can simply directly sub a diminished for the minor, if A minor, then sub A diminished. After all, a diminished sound is essentially a minor sound (at least to me). Your non-harmonic tones are b5, #5, and #7. The #7 is easy to deal with since it tonicizes the minor which is common to do on a "modal" tune. The other two tones are neighbor tones to the 5 so while they could present the trickiest dissonance, the resolution is on a very strong, restful tone. As mentioned, start with a little melody and see how you can make it work. Maybe this better describes applying the diminished sound?

The other possibility is that the cat blowing over Maiden Voyage doesn't have an established way to sub those changes, but just "plays a diminished" to get a more outside sound. I'm sure he wouldn't be the first to throw some diminished patterns to play themselves out of a corner (or because they were lost). The types of tunes mentioned by the OP, which have slow harmonic motion, need strong melodic development in a solo. Playing all the notes you know in 2 measures, or throwing out mad patterns will get old very quickly.

Originally Posted by hgiles
2 Don't play the whole scale.

Honestly, does anyone actually play the scale in their improv. Maybe it was how I learned and listened to songs and solos. Great, melodies are never a scale. I'm sure this is preaching to the choir (I hope), but for those out in sax-land who may not already know... don't play scales in your improv, play notes from a scale, along with some non-harmonic (a.k.a. "passing") tones for added spice. Make a melody.

Cheerio :cool:
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,675 Posts
After all, a diminished sound is essentially a minor sound (at least to me).

Great, melodies are never a scale. I'm sure this is preaching to the choir (I hope), but for those out in sax-land who may not already know... don't play scales in your improv, play notes from a scale, along with some non-harmonic (a.k.a. "passing") tones for added spice. Make a melody.
Thanks bob. Both of these statements make a lot of sense to me. As I said earlier I'm pretty sure no one means to run a scale, but rather use the notes from the scale in a melodic way.

I went to the piano and played a minor7 chord, then played notes from both the "half-whole" and "whole-half" dim scale, based on the chord root. Both scales sounded fine. I was expecting the "half-whole" to sound pretty bad with the major 3rd in it, but that didn't seem to be a problem, for whatever reason.

Good post, tritone. I'll have to read it carefully and try out what you're talking about. It seems to conform with what I discovered on the piano.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
Technically you can play ANY diminished scale you want. But ya gotta make it stick somehow. Any of the diminished scales are going to anchor on the root or fifth of a minor chord.

The diminished scale is a lot like the chromatic scale -- you can pretty much put it anywhere, but too much careless use of it can sound juvenile. The whole tone scale is another one. -- Such is the nature of Symmetrical scales.

So there you have it -- theoretically you can play any diminished scale, the chromatic scale and any whole tone scale over a minor (or major) chord .
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
Joined
·
1,020 Posts
Back to the initial question.... I wouldn't play a (normal) diminished scale over a minor 7 chord because its 7th is major, but rather use the inverted diminished (what other people above call the h-w dim. scale), ie the one trad. used over a dominant b9 chord.... but if the minor7 chord sounds nice as a minor9 I wouldn't hover over the 2nd step just a half step above the tonic!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
Back to the initial question.... I wouldn't play a (normal) diminished scale over a minor 7 chord because its 7th is major, but rather use the inverted diminished (what other people above call the h-w dim. scale), ie the one trad. used over a dominant b9 chord.... but if the minor7 chord sounds nice as a minor9 I wouldn't hover over the 2nd step just a half step above the tonic!
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a major 7th played where a minor 7th was intended. Talk about a cool sound!
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,675 Posts
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a major 7th played where a minor 7th was intended. Talk about a cool sound!
Very true, the major 7th is one of the coolest sounding notes you can play over a minor chord. Listen to 'Harlem Nocturne' if you don't believe this.

Going back to the dim scale, I guess no matter how you slice it, there will be tension tones and that's the whole point. The trick is placing those tones in the right place at the right time. Maybe, as usual, it's simply a matter of using your ear. I've discovered some very cool diminished patterns and 'melodies.' Now it's a matter of finding where they fit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a major 7th played where a minor 7th was intended. Talk about a cool sound!
Very true, the major 7th is one of the coolest sounding notes you can play over a minor chord. Listen to 'Harlem Nocturne' if you don't believe this.

Going back to the dim scale, I guess no matter how you slice it, there will be tension tones and that's the whole point. The trick is placing those tones in the right place at the right time. Maybe, as usual, it's simply a matter of using your ear. I've discovered some very cool diminished patterns and 'melodies.' Now it's a matter of finding where they fit.
Greetings..

You might find some interesting approaches for some of your above ideas and the application of the diminished tonality within diatonic tonal centers and cadences at the following URL:

http://jacmuse.com/harmonic resources/diminishedcolors/newpage41.htm

All the Best
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
Joined
·
1,020 Posts
Thx for the link tritone!!

Hgiles & JL I agree with your viewpoints, about cool sounding tension notes.... I am not on the other side of the fence (with the purists)... Let the poster explore what WORKS better for him (and what he feels comfortable with), within the particular arrangement he's following (depends a lot about what the other players are doing, too)... He might want to check out exotic scales too (middle eastern etc) or trust a bit more his ear and be less obsessed about "jazz theory" (=always sounded like an oxymoron to me anyways!).
 
1 - 20 of 70 Posts
Top