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Jazz Bass Lessons: Diminished Scales

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The diminished scale is
a very potent scale in jazz.
We use it all the time.
Listen to John Coltrane's playing.
He took the diminished scale to
places beyond our wildest
imagination in the 60's.
Many players after him have
really studied that stuff.
Micheal Brecker, all the great
tenor players that came afterwards.
I can name many, Lievman, Grossman,
Brecker, Joe Henderson obviously.
All kinds of players that developed
that diminished language.
Here's the half step,
whole step diminished scale.
We spoke about it before a little bit.
I'm going to give you a little
bit more information now.
So that's a half step, whole step,
half step, whole step.
Half step, whole step,
half step, whole step.
So a lot of times people just play that
and they just run the scale,
but there's actually a more
fully realized way to use it
where we take the major and
minor arpeggios that reside inside
the scale to give us more interest.
So, say we have this sound.
That's C.
As we showed on the base the sound is
So if you start on C.
If it's a C minor,
C diminished we have minor thirds.
If you start on E-flat.
It's the same notes.
It's always gonna be C,
E-flat, F-sharp and A.
Just starting in a different order.
If you start from E-flat,
it's E-flat, F-sharp, A, C.
And then if you start from F-sharp,
it's F-sharp, A, C, E-flat.
And then if you start from A it's,
A, C, E-flat, F-sharp.
That's why it's called a symmetrical
scale, it's all minor thirds.
You only need to start that scale from
three places and
you'll have all 12 keys because you
get four keys every time you
put your finger down there.
The C is equal to the E-flat and
F-sharp and the A diminished.
So there's four keys of diminished.
You go up one step [SOUND] and
you have D, F, A-flat, and B diminished.
And then you go up one more and
you have C again.
So [LAUGH] I'm sorry,
we have to do C-sharp.
So we do C, C diminished,
which is C, E-flat, F-sharp, A.
Then we have C-sharp diminished,
C-sharp, E, G, and B-flat.
That's four more keys, and
then finally D, F, A-flat and B.
D, F, A-flat and B, that is.
Then you have four more
keys to diminish so
those three starting points C,
C- sharp, and D give us all 12 keys.
Because any time you put
your finger down,
if you play a diminished chord, you're
spelling out the same notes for four.
Those are all minor thirds.
So, C, E flat, F sharp, and A.
That's one diminished block.
Second diminished block.
C-sharp, E, G, B-flat.
And finally D, D, F, A-flat and B so
now let's talk about the chords
that are inside them.
Let's go back to C diminish
inside the C diminish scale
the half step whole step
We can express that sound with major and
minor triads built off the roots
of the diminished chord.
And we won't sound so
obvious when we play, and
I'll show you in a second how that works.
We'll pick a sound that we talked
about before, C 13 with a flat 9.
sound in jazz.
So now we're going to play C major,
C minor, E-flat major, E-flat minor.
Again, these are on the diminished
roots C, E-flat, F-sharp, and
A will do the major and minor triads.
Built on all those starting points.
So C major and C minor over this sound.
See how it fits?
That's major.
So, now we're going to
do E-flat major and minor.
Now E-flat minor.
See how nice
that sounds?
It's a very extended sound, but
it doesn't sound so obviously diminished.
It doesn't sound like we're just going.
When we use the triads over the top.
Now, we'll use F-sharp.
That, now come back down minor.
We went up major.
See how colorful that sounds,
rather than just running the scale.
And finally, A major.
And A minor over it.
Now we can combine
them together.
That was A and F-sharp combined, so
then you get an insight
into how we can break up
diminished without just using the scale,
but using the arpeggios
inside of the scale.
And, this is also fleshed out on the bass,
in the other part of the curriculum.