Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 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.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 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.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 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.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 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.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 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.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 Posts
An obvious example is the tritone substitute, so bI7 is used in a tune which has a written V7.
Hey Pete, I'm pretty sure you meant to write "bII7" as a substitute for V7, right? I just point it out in case anyone is scratching their head over it.

I agree with everything Pete said about using chord tones. That works much better for me also than the 'chord-scale' approach. That doesn't mean scales are not important, since they help you find notes to connect chord tones, but the scales have to be completely automatic and internalized. That's the reason for practicing scales.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 Posts
What I meant was that if you played the W-H dim scale with the added natural 5th straight up and down it would probably sound like a minor scale with a bunch of passing tones.
Probably so... In many cases, just changing or adding one note can completely change the sound. For example, using a maj 7th instead of a minor 7th in a minor scale. In other cases, when adding a note as a passing tone, the essential flavor stays the same. Like the various bebop scales. I'm not sure how far you can go in adding or subtracting notes to a diminished scale before it becomes something entirely different. Of course all that really matters is whether or not you can create a melody, or lick, or motif that sounds good.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 Posts
Once people start talking about scales as chord symbols, that's when I worry.
Right. This is where it can go too far, because a scale is definitely not a chord.

But we have to be very careful not to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater.' I don't think piwikiwi really meant a scalar approach is totally useless (I hope not). Scales are important for all sorts of reasons, so I wouldn't entirely reject them, even, or especially, in how they relate to chords (and I know nobody is suggesting that and Pete already made this point). But all too often I've read something on here such as "don't use blues scales," or "pentatonics are too simple," or "never do this or that." Which is an over-reaction. The idea is not to overuse blues scales or pentatonic scales, when it would be more effective to mix in a more harmonic approach along with those blues scales (or other scales). And of course it's HOW you use all these devices that matters.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 Posts
No of course not it's just basic vocabulary but jazz is more than just scales
That's right. Music, jazz included, is more than just scales. My last post was not all that clearly written, so just to clarify, when I mention using a scale, I mean using the notes from that scale to form melodies. And I've never found the chord/scale approach to work all that well, except, as Pete says, to get in the game. Knowing the chords and using chord tones and guide tones (3rds & 7ths) is much better for sounding the harmony, but of course you still need to play melodically so that's only a template. I'm not saying I'm all that great at doing this, and I'm definitely not a master improviser, so take what I say with a grain of salt. It's just my own observations and experience.

In all fairness to Aebersold, he also points out that scales are only a means to an end, not to be run into the ground mindlessly. There is a danger in taking the chord/scale approach too literally, but it is useful to understand the relationship between chords and scales, as well as the fact they are not the same thing.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 Posts
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.
I see what you're saying, but just for the sake of argument (why not?) and also for technical accuracy (which may or may not be important, I guess), the dom7#9 chord is still a dominant chord, not minor, and the major 3rd is still there and can be played. I think what's happening on those funk and soul tunes you mention is the same thing that happens on a lot of blues tunes, even the ones with 'standard' dom7 chords without the #9. The maj3rd can be played as a b3rd in the melody line or a riff and sound just fine. It's a blue note. You can play a minor pentatonic, a minor blues scale, or dorian, and that might be quite common, but you aren't limited to that and you can incorporate the actual chord tones: 1 3 5 b7 #9, including that maj3rd tone.

However, back to minor chords, if you really are dealing with a minor 7 chord, the maj 3rd will sound very bad in most cases, except as a passing tone on an upbeat. And even then, I'd treat it very carefully.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,866 Posts
I don't disagree with you, but if you are playing a modal tune with several bars of of d minor and the d dim. scale sounds interesting over it, what's the harm?
lutemann, I think Pete was responding to your statement regarding Dm7 & D7alt, which are different chords, with different functions. Take a look at my post #65 just above, which I think addresses a similar issue (min7 vs Dom7#9).
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top