Learning the basics of the diminished scale so you can apply it to your playing

More Detailed Diminished
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Happy New Year Premier Guitar readers! Let's kick off 2010 and another exciting year edition of Lethal Guitar together! As all of my faithful readers know, every year I have several guests in my column and this year will be no different. I have several of my guitar/gun-slinging friends lined up to assist me in getting you, my readers, to where you want to be as guitarists. I also have some lesson series I’ll be covering this year, the first being a genuine comprehension and application of the diminished concept.

Rock guitarists usually have a smattering of an understanding of the diminished idea, but that’s about it! A lot of players would like to incorporate it more, but just don’t know how to. In this series I’m going give you an in depth look into the diminished realm, helping you to truly understand and apply it to your everyday guitar playing and/or writing. First let’s discuss the diminished concept…

The origin of the diminished concept is in the major or Ionian scale. If you look at that scale, there are 7 different tones “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do”. If we take the 7th tone “Ti” and make it the root we have a basic Locrian/Diminished scale. The scale syncs up perfectly with a diminished chord. Here’s why: each tone of the major scale can be harmonized into a chord, for example the 1st tone “Do” (major chord), 2nd tone “Re” (minor chord), 3rd tone “Mi” (minor chord), etc. When you harmonize the 7th tone, “Ti,” it becomes a diminished chord. Thus the Locrian scale (based on the 7th tone) fits perfectly with a diminished chord. We’ll go much deeper than this, but for now this is a great place to start.

Now I’ll illustrate different forms of the Locrian scale for you. In each example I’ll stop on the root of the scale, and I encourage you to do the same as this will give your ear a better understanding of the mode and help you to gain depth in your aural comprehension of Locrian. After you’ve completed the 5th form of the scale you’ll be exactly one octave higher from where you started with the first form of the scale. You should notice that the five forms repeat at the octave!


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We’re just beginning our path through the diminished scale and are at the precipice of applying this idea to your everyday playing. Get acclimated to these fingerings and we’ll explore their use in the coming articles. I’ve got lots to show you so hang in there, it gets better and better. There’s a bit of theory involved but, I’ll walk you in step-by-step! Remember to practice slowly at first, always use a metronome and a clean tone. Thanks for logging on and tuning in, see you next month in Lethal Guitar.

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