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Detailed Diminished II

Continue learning the fundamentals that Jeff Beasley is presenting in this series on the Locrian/diminished scale.

More Detailed Diminished
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Welcome Premier Guitar readers to the second edition of Detailed Diminished here in Lethal Guitar, thanks for logging on and tuning in! Last issue we discussed the Locrian/diminished scale which is simply taking the 7th tone of the major scale—“Ti”—and making it the new home tone or root of the same scale. The 7th tone of the major scale when harmonized gives us a diminished chord and therefore the scale (Locrian), syncs up with the diminished chord.

Initially this approach to the major scale will challenge the depth of your ear. Over time and with practice, especially playing it over diminished or minor 7th flat 5 chords (half-diminished), your ear will gain depth in its understanding and comprehension of the Locrian/diminished scale and the incredible importance it holds for you as a musician.

This issue, let’s get more acquainted with the 7th tone of the major scale, as it is harmonized into a diminished or m7b5 chord. The chord in its most basic form (triad) contains the 7th tone “Ti”, the 2nd tone “Re”, and the 4th tone “Fa” of the major scale. Notice the distances between the notes, from Ti to Re is three half-steps and from Re to Fa is three half-steps. Two things are important about these distances: First, the distances are the same or equidistant from 1 to 3 and 3 to 5. Second, the distance from the root of the chord Ti to the 5th of the chord Fa is only six half-steps, instead of seven half-steps in a common major or minor chord. In other words the distance from 1 to 5 has diminished, and yes that’s where the chord gets its name!

Now whenever you have a chord that has the equidistant quality, some very interesting things become available to you. We’ll cover some of those in the next few issues. In this edition let’s apply one tool of this equidistant quality to the diminished chord by breaking it into an arpeggio.

Example 1: Here is a common, symmetrical approach to the diminished arpeggio. Notice the distances between each note is a minor 3rd or 3 half-steps. You can pick every note or hammer-on, preferably both. There is a bit of horizontal movement with the fretting hand and a whole-step jump between strings 3 and 4, making it a little more challenging to reach. Practice this ascending and descending:


Example 2:
In this example we utilize the common approach in example 1, and implement the equidistant quality from a different vantage point. Notice the beginning point of each new section is 3 half-steps higher than the beginning point of the last arpeggio:


Example 3:
Now we utilize the minor third approach by combining vertical and horizontal ideas with the minor 3rd, maintaining the 3 half-step integrity:


Example 4:
Another example of vertical and horizontal movement in minor 3rds descending in pitch:


Example 5:
More horizontal movement quickly building tension as we ascend in pitch:


Example 6:
Again we quickly build tension in the listener by ascending, with an emphasis on the minor 3rd movement in the bass:


There ya go guys! We’re starting out with the fundamentals, so please pay close attention to the explanations I give in the text as well as the illustrations presented. It’s very important that you have a solid understanding of the concepts as I present them in each issue of the series. So, mull them over and apply the concepts on your instrument. Really think about what you’re doing and see how it utilizes the math given here. If you do, your knowledge of the diminished idea will blossom into an awesome tool for you as a player and add genuine depth to you as a guitarist no matter what style(s) you enjoy.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have and I’ll be glad to help you out in your quest to become a better player. God bless and I’ll see you next issue.