October 2011 \ Premier Clinic \ That Can Be Arranged: Chords That Keep On Giving

# That Can Be Arranged: Chords That Keep On Giving

## I tend to be a bit obsessive when working on a technique or concept and recently diminished harmony has been filling my time.

 Click here to download a PDF of this lesson's notation. Chops: Intermediate Theory: Advanced Lesson Overview:  • Learn the basics of the diminished 7th chord. • Create a series of related chords based off the diminished chord shape. • Understand the elements of proper voice leading.
Welcome back to That Can Be Arranged. Normally, I use a piece of music for each column, however I recently discovered an ascending root movement study that I think you will find quite interesting. I have provided a video to help clarify the subtle differences between each chord.

I tend to be a bit obsessive when working on a technique or concept and recently diminished harmony has been filling my time. After a bit of consideration I realized that when the root of a diminished chord is raised by a half step an entirely new chord is formed. My next thought was that the diminished chord is symmetrical so each note in the chord can be moved up by a half step to form a new chord. I was pleased my theory proved correct!

Let’s begin with Cycle 1 and start with a basic voicing for Cdim7. In this example we will consider the C as the root of the chord. With each chord, we will move the root up a half step. If we move the C to a Db, we end up with Ebm7b5/Db. This is also known as an Eb half-diminished chord in third inversion. We now move the newly established root (Eb) up a half step to E and we create an F#m7/C# chord. Finally, we move the F# up to G and end up with an A7/C# chord. Once we move the A up to Bb, we begin the entire cycle again starting with C#dim7.

I found that each cycle revealed four chords (diminished 7th, half-diminished 7th, minor 7th, dominant 7th). In considering each diminished chord tone a potential root and series, we now have a total of sixteen chords! Each root will continue to ascend until arriving at a new diminished chord a half step above the original chord.

My last step was to consider the diminished chord as root position with three inversions. In other words, I didn’t move the chord or change the order of the notes. I looked at each note on each string as my new root. In Cycle 2 I use Gb as the root, Cycle 3, I use A, and in Cycle 4, I use Eb.

Identifying the chord quality and inversion will be the biggest challenge. It helps to remember that the order of the chord (diminished 7th, half-diminished 7th, minor 7th, dominant 7th). It also helps to understand the order of the inversions. Being based on open voiced chords, the order is root position, third inversion, second inversion, and first inversion. The order starts at different points considering which inversion you start with. For example, R–3–2–1 can also be 3–2–1–R, 2–1–R–3 or 1–R–3–2. Another way to look at it is that the root of each new chord moves in minor thirds.You can start ascending root movement from any of the four chord qualities but I consider diminished the parent chord.

You may say, this is interesting but why do I need to work on this? This study shows the close relationship between various chords and it helps with mapping intervals, chord spellings, as well as ear training. It’s also another approach to learning chord inversions. Anything that challenges your knowledge of the fingerboard and harmony is a good thing. This study can make your brain hurt, it did mine! In time, the concept will become simple. The video should clarify any questions you may have. In closing, it is my opinion that mastering the fingerboard and the harmonic universe would take many life times. We have one, better get busy!

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 Felipe on 10/30/2011 I'd like to thank Bill Piburn for the article and for the the readers who left their comments - those were another lesson altogether. Fascinating stuff! I figure when I get older this type of stuff will be my favorite anti-Alzheimer exercise! ;-) Lou Arnold on 10/28/2011 I love this and it does hurt but the mind is a muscle and it needs exercise! I'm looking forward to trying this starting from other diminished seventh voicings as well. Thanks for this! Bill Piburn on 10/20/2011 Douglas, I have looked at your idea and it is very cool. Amazing stuff! billpiburn on 10/20/2011 Douglas, thanks for sharing your thoughts and discovery. I look forward to trying it. This is what I hope to do and that is inspire someone to consider. I will agree with Jojo that it can be a bit boring but that does not discount how important it is and what you can learn from it. Yes - everything that challenges your knowledge is a good thing. Douglas Baldwin on 10/14/2011 The spacing on my comment below didn't come out too well. Read as 2 bars of Em(maj7), then two beats of each subsequent chord. Douglas Baldwin on 10/14/2011 I noticed another cool thing: each cycle can be played backwards, and can be resolved with different "tonic" chords, depending on what tonal center you favor. For example, Cycle 1 could be in E melodic minor: Em(maj7) A7/C# F#m/C# Ebm7b5/Db Cdim7||: / / / / |/ / / /| / / / / | / / / / :|| JoJo on 10/13/2011 Maybe it was just me, but that was boring. Everything that challenges your knowledge of the fingerboard and harmony is not always a good thing. Brooks on 10/13/2011 That should read "on all of these lessons". Obviously this one has video. Thanks! Brooks on 10/13/2011 The video on the rig run downs and product demos is great. You guys should do video on these lessons, too. This is where it would _really_ be awesome. Douglas Baldwin on 10/12/2011 Very cool, Bill. I noticed that the m7b5 chords can be rethought as m6 chords, and four NEW cycles can be played:Cycle 1 rethoughtCdim7 F#m6/C# A7b5/C# Eb/DbCycle 2 rethoughtGb(dim7) Cm6 A7b5/C# Eb/DbCycle 3 rethoughtAdim7/C Ebm/C C7b5 F#7/C#Cycle 4 rethoughtEb(dim7)/Dbb Am6/C C7b5 F#7/C#Man, that took more time to type out than it did to play!