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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.
This is the most concrete advice given to the question. But the phrasing of the question misleads a little. The diminished scale (whole-half) works like the melodic minor scale. That's why it works with minor sixth or minor (maj7) best of all. Some may say I'm a purist based on this approach. But I've done my own research on all scales/modes that exist in the 12 tone system, and I would say that there are so many options for scales which capture best a certain harmony, why settle for something else?

The diminished scale over a C min looks like this C, D, Eb, F, F#, Ab, A, B; this has all the notes of the jazz melodic minor except the fifth (G), as
bob3dsf pointed out. Adding the G (which is present in the chord anyway) gives a 9-tone scale with very interesting properties. It includes the Hungarian Minor: C, D, Eb, F#, G, Ab, B as well as the 8-tone scale that I call bebop melodic minor: C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, A, B. It has a portion of the blues scale: C, Eb, F, F#. It also has C harmonic minor, which means from the V7 chord G7b9, the Spanish scale (5th mode harmonic minor) is available. In fact the whole scale can be used modally (exclusively) over minor blues, no problem.

Chords included in this mode are:
Cm6, Cm (maj7), Cm(ma7)13#11
D7 (b9, #9, #11, 13) and then F7, Ab7, and B7 with the same color tones and alterations, also D6, F69, Ab6, B6; Dm6, Fm6, Abm6, Bm6
Do7, Fo7, Abo7, Bo7
Ebo7, F#o7, Ao7, Co7
Ebmaj7#5
Fm7, Fm6, Fm13#11
G9, G7(b13b9), Gmaj9
Abmaj7, Abmaj13#11#9
Am7b5(11,9)
B7(#9#5)
and some more.
 

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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.
Sorry, Bob this is where I would have to disagree with you. There are two great options for playing over Maiden Voyage with diminished. The chords in Maiden voyage are all dominant except for one, C#m (despite what the 5th Edition Real Book says). That's why using half-whole diminished works great over D7sus - F7sus, because of the min3rd connection between the chords.

But there's another approach that works 10 times as well, because it can be used modally over the whole tune! It involves using the scale actively vs. passively, as nearly everyone does. Approaching chord tones from a half step below, that's passive. It works very well, but lays there, so to speak. So if I have D7 and approach the chord tones 3, 5, b7, b9 from below with half steps I get, of course, D, Eb, F, F#, G#, A, B, C. But...if I approach those same tones from a half-step above (active approach) it's another ball of wax! Approaching first the F# with a downward motion, we get G, F#, E, Eb, C#, C, Bb, A. Someone will ask: where's the root? Answer: in the bass (you don't have to play it!) If we include the root, however, we get a 9-tone scale as follows: D, Eb, E, F#, G, A, Bb, C, C#. As you can see, the Am7/D or D9sus4 is in there. What's much different than the way everyone plays this tune is the 6th. It's flatted! That's what makes this so entrancing - it's an extension of the Hindi mode (5th mode melodic minor). And it sets the ear up for the 4th of the F7sus4 chord that's coming, which uses the same diminished scale, but now adding F. Then the Eb7sus can take the passive use (Eb, E, F#, G, A, Bb, C, Db) and the C#min takes the 9-tone scale mentioned in my previous post, which I call the Hungarian Melodic Minor. A good way to warm up the ear to this approach is simply to use the Hindi scale over both D7sus and F7 sus. Over D7, you've got G melodic minor, over F7 you've got Bb melodic minor.

Herbie uses this approach himself, and throws in auxiliary chords to back it up, e.g., D9sus - Em9b5 -D9sus - A13b9 - D9sus. A very nice contrast is C/D - F#/D in alternation. Or Am7 - Ebm7.

Another contention I would make is that one certainly can use the whole scale, in fact, in the space of seconds, and it sounds (as the OP said: "killer.")

Have fun!
 

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Someone has to say this:

although, yes, you can play whatever sounds good to you and creating tension is a personal thing...

Diminished scales have nothing to do with Minor or Minor 7th chords or the scales associated with them (melodic minor, dorian/aeolian). Diminished scales are most closely related to dominant chords. You can play diminished stuff over minor sevenths in a modal setting but usually when I hear players doing that they are just using it to tonicize the mode OR play "out," which is just a matter of taste.

I just don't want anyone to make the mistake of thinking that when you play a diminished scale you are playing within the Minor 7th sound... even if all the notes of the chord are there.

To check out some deep use of the diminished sound, listen to Bach. He uses lots of diminished scales/arpeggios/patterns, and always in a dominant function.

To answer the OP's question, sure you can use a diminished scale over Am7, you're just not playing Am7 anymore. In other words, you can't substitute diminished for m7.
Mike, I think it's safe to say that the beginner should not attempt to apply diminished over minor. But we are in the 21st century, and jazz to me means contemporary music. Bach is still very hip - every jazzer should construct his solos with that depth! But harmony has moved on. I'm not talking about dissonance - playing out for the sake of wierdness - I'm talking about extending the harmonic/melodic vocabulary. I'm sure you use melodic minor over a tonic minor...now try the Hungarian minor mentioned in my first post. Now mix them together - you've got the diminished scale plus the fifth of the minor chord (a total of nine tones). It's chock full of modal possibilities for polychord superimposition - extremely well-suited to any minor tune (with the possible exception of Blue Bossa!) As the old Alka-Selzer commercial said: "Try it - you like it!"
 

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Well, like I said, if it sounds good to you then awesome.

It's just that when you are playing diminished scales/arpeggios/whatever over minor harmony, you're not playing the harmony. If you're aware of that and want to play it anyway then whatever. You can play whatever you want. It's just that to ME, if you start saying that it's cool to play diminished stuff over a minor chord, then you're kind of throwing the harmony out the window. You can also play a whole-tone scale over a major chord if you want to, would you consider that "extending the harmonic/melodic vocabulary"? If that's how you hear music then fine.

I guess my point in all of this is that there's a big difference between playing 'outside' but knowing how to resolve it so it makes sense to the listener, and playing 'outside' because you think it should be consider 'inside.'

About your first post regarding the diminished scale's relationship to scales like Hungarian minor, bebop minor, etc., yeah, there are some of the same notes but they are functionally extremely different. All of the minor scales have the natural fifth. the diminished doesn't. If you add the fifth in, that's no longer a diminished scale, but a melodic minor scale with 2 passing tones, which is really not the same thing as a diminished scale. If you add the natural fifth to a W-H diminished scale, that gives a pretty cool-sounding scale, I agree. It's just not the diminished scale and not the diminished sound.
I'm thrilled that people are tuned in to threads here, even if it was an old one I responded to.

Mike, if I play a pattern from the WH diminished scale over a C min for 1 bar, then resolve to a G in the next bar, did I play the dim. scale or not?? Here's one to try:
Cm6 chord: F# B F Eb, Eb Ab D C, C F B A, A D Ab F# G
Note direction - 1st 2 intervals move up, down a whole step, down an octave (axe allowing!), repeating with each group of four notes, than the G at the end comes of course. between Ab and F#.

I would say that adding a note to a given scale definitely changes the possibilities available, but the distinctive sounds are still there, if you draw them out.
 

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I totally agree.

My problem is just that if we're talking theory/harmony, diminished and minor occupy very different worlds.
That's a very good formulation, Mike. It shows how untenable it is to separate elements in the musical universe. What insurmountable barrier exists between major and minor? Between diminished and augmented? It must be a malicious force field invented by Klingons... I would rather hold the position that it is one thing, the musical universe, the orbit of one body interacting with the other...maybe?
 

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Thank you for sharing this. I'm working to learn to play like this. The whole aebersold chord/scale thing is really a waste of time if you're serious about playing
I don't like to always disagree with everything - and to everyone who says "you have to hear the tones individually," I absolutely agree. BUT as an arranger and pianist, I certainly have to be aware of chord/scale relationships and try in some way to match them up. It starts with being able to identify intervals against the root or bass (instantly by ear). It also consists of leaving some room for the soloist (just playing 3rd and 7th). It has to do with knowing cliches, such as using 3 different melodic minors on the minor ii-V-i (or on a major II-V-I, the roots being a third higher). Without cliches and conventions, jazzers who have never played together before wouldn't be able to play a casual gig and create a unified product. And without them the audience would certainly not be able to follow what's going on or enjoy it. BUT...at least once in each solo I like to surprise the audience, maybe even the musicians, with some sounds that are less familiar, but still understandable as extensions of known harmonies and pleasant combinations of overtones.

Chord scales, especially those consisting of seven tones, are actually just what the name implies: CHORDS. For instance:
F Lydian = Fmaj13#11
D Dorian = Dm13
G13#11#9b9 = G HW diminished scale
Cm7#11 = C Rumanian (C, D, Eb, F#, G, A, Bb = 4th mode G harm min)
Cm(maj7)13#11 = C Melodic Rumanian
G7#9b9#5b5 = G Super Locrian or 7th mode melodic minor
G17 = G Mixolydian (basically a sus13 chord with the root and third stacked on top)

All of the above are reasonably harmonious constellations of tones - not all scales fare as well as chords, for instance the major scale on a major chord. If I arrange a C major scale as a harmonious constellation with C in the bass, then it would have to be an Fmaj13#11 over C or Dm13 over C. Same for A natural minor, the harmonious chords are Dmin or Fmaj over A bass. Same in Phrygian. Why? The half step intervals have to occur as maj 7ths and not as min 9ths.

Where do you use such huge chords, and don't they get in the way? That's where listening comes in, and building with a soloist. But if I hear that he/she hits the 7th mode of melodic min. every time on V7- i min, then I can run that whole scale with the pedal down at an important cadence point to build excitement (a lot of pianists do it, especially in the melody accompaniment).

To respond more specifically to the quoted comment, I would add that Aebersold did not invent the chord/scale relationships. They have been forged through centuries of composition. If you talk about more contemporary tonalities like jazz melodic minor, think of Debussy, Ravel, Gershwin, Strayhorn, Ellington...it's all there. The way improvisation is taught stems from the creativity of Bird, Dizzy, Coltrane, and others. Aebersold presents it in a way that is typical to jazz pedagogy and theory, and, just as is the case with classical theory, it's derived from what the masters did and still do. The masters create, the teachers (many of whom are also masters) analyze, organize, and propogate.
 

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now we are blurring the line between musical theory and philosophy [rolleyes]
Sorry, Mike. It was more an attempt at analogy and a feeble attempt at humor. But on a philosophical note, I would say that this forum is wonderful because of the dialectical process happening. It's the most powerful engine of truth that exists.
 

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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
Since this thread has died down somewhat, and since saxdude has not checked back in, I'd like to reemphasize a point about Maiden Voyage: The first chords are not minor, they are dominant.

concert pitch: A section : D9sus4 - F9sus4 :
B section Eb9sus4 - C#m(maj7)
Of course, if you use Mixolydian over the sus chords, it's the same as using Dorian over the minor 7 chord a fifth above the bass. It's just that when you enter the question of which diminished scale to use, this difference has to be considered. It's really the distinction between a ii m7 in major or a tonic i min. A tonic i may take Dorian, but most jazzers tend toward melodic minor, especially if it's minor blues or a similar progression. iv min in the minor tonality would also usually take Dorian, or Rumanian is a nice variation on this. ii m7 could also take melodic minor, but that's a more specific flavor, and would be followed by an altered dominant. If you'd like to hear some extended use of melodic minor in various modes, follow this link and scroll down to the 3rd example. Michael Sorg Music - Theory
 

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It seems to me that, say, a dmin7 chord can be thought of as a D7alt9 chord, in which case the d diminished (half, whole step) scale would sound OK. I'll have to try that.
The distinction between a tonic function dom7#9 and a min7 has been blurred for many years, for sure. Most funk and soul charts which stay on I dom7#9 for awhile use the Dorian mode for the melody and harmony of say, the horn parts, as well as the main melody. Often the only instrument playing the dom7#9 is the rhythm guitar. Even keyboards and organ are riffing primarily Dorian.

As far as the diminished scale goes over min7...well, the chord is definitely in there! It's an unusual way of connecting the dots, but as long as you don't emphasize the major third too much, putting it on the beat, it works for me. Many people like to hear the major 3rd as a chromatic approach from above to the minor third of the minor chord, usually like a grace note. If you alternate the Ab maj triad with the D min triad, you get a Locrian related sound, unique and exotic. Or alternating Dm6 with Abm6...very nice! Alot of cool patterns can be constructed from say the tones of D Rumanian that are present: D, F, G#, A, B, C, than playing the same thing a tritone away. But definitely not for your Top Forty band, and certainly not for beginners.
 

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I'd really love to know who these people are.

Actually no, don't send me their address and phone no.

I just wish people liked my wrong notes.
Pete, I do apologize. Of course I stated that incorrectly. The minor 3rd is approached from a half-step from the b4, not the major 3rd! My contention is that any chord tone (or extension for that matter) can be approached from a half-step above, and these are active tones, as opposed to the passive approach from a half-step below. Of course, we have all learned as part of the standard chord scale dogma that one never plays a natural 5th on a half diminished chord, and God forbid one should play a major 3rd over minor! But my suggestion is to try some of these sounds. If you can't hear it, or just don't like it, then that's the way it is. But I think it's part of extending the vocabulary, so that we're not stuck in cliches.
 

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Yes, but there are loads of notes that can be used if it's an approach note or a passing note. This is the big problem with saying such and such scale fits a given chord. People learn those associations, without knowing the functions of each note, whether it's a chord tone, passing note or whatever. And how each note has a different implication depending on it's placing in time (on the beat, off the beat etc.)

EDIT:

e.g. a major 3rd on a minor chord can be fine:

Eb E F E Eb C on C minor (though you could make the second E and Fb)

I haven't heard the term active tones.
Actually, I'm not talking about chromatic passing tones; consecutive chromatics tend to lose the power of pointed half-step motions (rounding them off, so to speak). Escape tones increase their effect, even the effect of the approach from a half-step below (which I call passive). Think about the #4 to 5 resolution. If you play (over major) 3 4 #4 5, you've got a smooth, pretty line that makes sense to everyone. If you hang on #4 for a bit before moving to 5, you have a well-liked tension/resolution. If you first move from #4 up to 1, then back down to 5, you have more angularity and interest.

With active tones I'm referring to resolutions such as 4 to 3, b6 to 5, and b2 to 1, Those are the familiar ones, often called tendency tones. Basically I conceive of all approaches from a note from a half-step above a chord tone or extension as an active tone. That means if the chord player is really laying into the #11 on a dom13#11 and you play a natural 5, that's an active tone (tension) that wants to be resolved to the #4.

As I mentioned in my first post on this thread, I favor the whole-step/half-step diminished scale plus natural 5th (say, over Am: A, B, C, D, D#, E, F, F#,G#) over a tonic minor, but that's over min(maj7), not a minor 7. The half-step/whole-step is an interesting (admittedly unconventional!) way of connecting the dots of the minor 7 chord, especially if you have a static ii m7-V7 like "Mister Magic" or a similar vamp. If you are using the minor 7 chord as tonic, then it makes sense to add the natural 4 to the scale. If your m7 is the iv chord in minor, you can add instead the note a step above the root (this gives the 4th mode of the scale spelled above.

Anyway, here's a 4 bar example of the application, complete with an approach to the b3 from the b4! Michael Sorg Music - Theory
 
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