In the same way that we studied in the diminished chord, diminished scale repeats itself each one and a half tone. This is really advantageous, because it opens a whole range of possibilities.
Drawing of Diminished Scale
See bellow an example of shape to the diminished scale of C:
Notes: C, D, D#, F, F#, G#, A, B
Due the fact that this scale repeats itself each one and a half tone, we will check the diminished scale of D#:
Notes: D#, F, F#, G#, A, B, C
You can see that, even though these two scales start in different notes (one starts in C and another in D#), both have the same notes.
Ok, but what is the advantage of it? Well, let’s say that you are improvising a solo in E minor till the moment in the song when the chord B7 appears. As we will see forward, you can use diminished scale of C in B7. But as this scale is identical to D# and this D# is closer to E than C, we can take advantage of this little distance and use diminished scale of D# (instead of diminished C) to let our improvisation with fluid movements. This is one of the advantages.
Another advantage is the repetition of patterns. You can create a phrase in the diminished scale and repeat it each one and a half tone, creating a really interesting effect. The guitar player Yngwe Malmsteen explores a lot this resource. Let’s see this concept used in examples.
Now is time to show the application of this scale, because it is not important just chit-chatting about that, because the main thing is to know where you can use these concepts! So, let’s go:
How to use the Diminished Scale
Now you can imagine, diminished scale can be played in a diminished chord. This cannot be strange, because it is the diminished scale that creates the diminished chord. It is in this point that many students give up, because it doesn’t appear with much frequency in many music styles; and when it appears, it is usually for a short time, and it doesn’t give time to the diminished “phrase” being developed. So the student thinks: “why will I waste my time memorizing this scale which I’ll never use?” And he/she has all the reason! It is useless to memorize things that you don’t use in practice. Nice that you are in the right place. The website Simplifying Theory will show you the value of the diminished scale to you.
The most common application for the diminished scale is in the dominant chord. It can be played one semitone above of the dominant chord in question. In this case, we play the tonic (fundamental) of the dominant chord (in other words, we start the scale with this note) and then we play the diminished one semitone above this tonic. Let’s explain this concept. Pay attention in the following thinking:
As this scale repeats itself in each one and a half tone, we could think of playing it starting by other degrees. For example, G7 chord is a dominant that is solved in C major. The used diminished scale in G7 is the diminished G# scale (half tone above the dominant). As this scale repeats itself in each one and a half tone, we also could play diminished B scale (one and a half tone above G#).
As B is a semitone below C, we can think that the diminished scale to be used is located one semitone below the chord that the dominant will solve. In other words, it is like we are “creating” a diminished of ascending passage.
This is just one way of thinking, and can be really useful in practice. Imagine that you are improvising a solo in a song that is in C major, in other words, you are using the C major scale. If G7 appears in any moment, it would be really practical thinking in use the diminished scale one semitone below C, because it is really close to the region where you are doing your solo.
To think in a scale one semitone above G7 can slow our answer in the time of improvisation. But each person has his/her preferences. Use a point of reference that makes you feel comfortable and practice the use of this scale in a musical context.
We will show (as usual) some examples of application of diminished scale. You can also create your own phrases and obtain fluency in the theme. It is worth spending time in this study. The diminished scale in a fantastic resource; it has a single sonority and enchants any listener.
Diminished Scale in a Virtual Diminished Chord
Another application to this scale, besides being able to be played in the diminished and dominant chords as we saw, is in a virtual diminished chord.
That is it, don’t be afraid! We are calling virtual diminished chord a diminished chord that doesn’t exist in the song, but could exist. It looks like things from crazy people, but actually is simple.
Imagine that your band is playing a song that has the following chords | C | D | Em |, repeatedly in this sequence. After the chord D comes E minor, but we already talked in another article that the diminished chords fits well as diminished of passage between a major and a minor chord (in this case, we would have a Major – Diminished – Minor sequence, becoming: D, D#°, Em). Obviously, we are not creating another bar line; the diminished chord is only sharing the same bar line as D.
Very well, this song doesn’t have this diminished chord, but we could play the following sequence without problems:
| C | D D#° | Em | instead of playing only | C | D | Em |, or even | C | D#° | Em | (deleting completely the chord D).
The interesting thing is that this diminished of passage is well accepted in this context that we do a solo as the chord was there, even if it isn’t. In this case, we are “kidding” the listener, making him/her believe that there is a diminished chord in that point. And the listener accepts, because this progression is really pleasant! We strongly recommend that you play diminished arpeggio in this case, to strength this impression that there is a diminished chord there. We will show this resource in the examples of Guitar Pro below.
- Example of application of a diminished scale in a diminished chord: diminishedscaleinadiminishedchord.gpro
In this file, the harmony is in A major. The diminished chord A#° is serving as passing chord between the first and the second degrees.
- Diminished scale in a dominant chord: Diminishedscaledominantchord.gpro
This file consists in a cadence II – V – I created by | Am7 | D7 | G7M |. The diminished D# scale will be done in the dominant D7.
- Diminished scale in a virtual diminished chord: Diminishedscalevirtualdiminishedchord.gpro
The base of this example is in D minor tonality, being created by: | Dm7 | Bb | C |
We will consider that is an ascending diminished chord (C#°) between the chords C and Dm7, because this passage is really accepted. Actually, this chord C#° doesn’t exist in music, but we will create a solo as it was there. See the effect.
- Examples of repeated diminished patterns each one and a half tone: patternsdiminishedscale.gpro
The exercises of this last file are in diminished scale of A.
Practice now the diminished scale in this base (download the file): Diminished Scale training
The tonality of this baking track is in D minor. When the chord A7 is played, use the diminished scale of D#. You can abuse the ideas. Show your creativity recording a video of your solo with this base, put it on Youtube and send the link of your video to Contact Us. The best ones that use this diminished scale will be put here in our site! Make sure to take part in it.
Go to: Dominant diminished scale
Back to: Module 9