# SOTW: The Diminished Scale

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RainDog
01-28-2004, 07:43 PM
For this month?s edition of scale of the week, I will be talking about the diminished, or whole step half step, scale.
It is a very interesting and unique scale, and has many very unusual attributes. Firstly, it is unique because it is one of the only scales that are totally synthetic. This means it does not come from the overtone series, like the major scale, and can't be found in any folk or ethnic music.

This scale is made from alternating whole and half steps. Due to this fact it has some very unique properties.

Here is its numerical representation:
1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 bb7 7

Whole - Half - Whole - Half - Whole - Half - Whole - Half

And a tab in A

---------------------------------------------------------------4--5--7--8------
--------------------------------------------------4--6--7---------------------
---------------------------------------4--5--7---------------------------------
------------------------4----6---7----------------------------------------------
------------5--6---8----------------------------------------------------------
-5--7--8------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, that?s 8 tones, and two 7's. You may ask why I used the seventh note to use twice, instead of the sixth.
Well, there is no real formula to choose which scale degree to use twice, as long as you have the correct order of whole and half steps, but since this scale is most commonly played using a fully diminished seventh chord (1, b3, b5, bb7), I chose the seventh. Another interesting feature of this scale is that it is symmetrical. That means it is identical to the same scale any multiple of 3 semitones away, and repeats itself 3 semitones away. So the B, D, F, and Ab diminished scales are all the same. This also means there are only 3 separate diminished scales, for example G, Ab, and A. Licks from diminished scales can also be repeated at intervals of 3 semitones.

Playing this scale, you may notice a kind of slinky, sinuous feel to it. This is because the number of semitone gaps created by the extra note, which is 3 compared to the 2 of most diatonic scales, and its symmetry. This extra note also is useful because, when played in eighth notes, the scale resolves to its root on the first beat of the next bar, instead of the very last eight note of the same bar like traditional diatonic scales do, which is a much weaker beat.

The chord that is played the most under this scale is, as I said before, the fully diminished seventh chord. This chord is also interesting, as it is made of three minor third intervals, and any note in the chord can be used as it?s root.

Here are some grips of it
Edim7
----
-8-
-6-
-8-
-7-
----
----
----
-5-
-4-
-6-
-5-

You can also use a normal diminished chord.
B dim
----
-3-
-4-
-3-
-2-
----

The slinky, sinister vibe from this scale, as well as its unique attributes, has made this scale popular in jazz. It can also be sometimes heard in heavy metal music, and is a favourite scale of King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. If you want to hear this scale in action, check out "Just" by Radiohead. The ascending octaves on the electric guitar at the beginning of the song are the C diminished scale.
Here?s a link to the tab.

I've recorded the riff and some other examples of the diminished scale in action, go to http://dry-socket.dmusic.com/ and listen to "diminished scale examples" to hear it.

Please post anything you want to add, or correct, or comment on.

:cheers:

, Raindog

EDIT: Changed chord diagrams for clarity and added a link to my recording.

XeonicusX
01-29-2004, 01:41 AM
Nice, I like the sound... pretty eccentric. :D

RainDog
01-29-2004, 01:48 AM
Thanks.

I've recorded a few examples for people to hear.
Its all in one file one my dmusic site.
The first part is just the scale, then some fully diminished seventh chords, then the diminished scale part of Just by Radiohead, then a kinda metal riff i made, and then a jazzy thing that goes between dominant and diminished seventh chords.
Heres the site.
http://dry-socket.dmusic.com/

ZepHedJack
01-30-2004, 01:04 AM
I always thought that

|-------------------6-9----|
|-----------------8--------|
|-------------6-9----------|
|---------5-8--------------|
|-----4-7------------------|
|-3-6----------------------|

was the diminished scale...:confused:

RainDog
01-30-2004, 01:38 AM
Originally posted by ZepHedJack
I always thought that

|-------------------6-9----|
|-----------------8--------|
|-------------6-9----------|
|---------5-8--------------|
|-----4-7------------------|
|-3-6----------------------|

was the diminished scale...:confused:
Actually, thats just the notes from a fully diminished seventh chord. Two of those scales a semitone apart would be a diminished scale though.

chunkychewie
01-31-2004, 04:31 PM
Hey, pretty sweet! Im gonna heve to get my guitar down here and try it out. Good job, thanks!

02-03-2004, 09:41 PM
Sounds pretty strange, I'd like to make a bassline with it, and then play a bunch of effects or something.

Bandit
02-08-2004, 09:17 AM
After checking up in my guitar chord book I found that I was right in thinking that E dim7 is
8
7
8
7
or any similar shape up or down the fretboard in 3 semitone spacing.

I dunno what
8
6
8
7 is (apart from a nice sounding chord)

but it isnt a Diminished 7th chord

beatallica_fan
02-08-2004, 09:33 AM
Originally posted by Bandit
After checking up in my guitar chord book I found that I was right in thinking that E dim7 is
8
7
8
7
or any similar shape up or down the fretboard in 3 semitone spacing.

I dunno what
8
6
8
7 is (apart from a nice sounding chord)

but it isnt a Diminished 7th chord

that first chord is an Em7b5, not E dim 7. Dim 7 chords are spelt 1 b3 b5 bb7 which in E is E G Bb C#, as shown in the second chord, the chord you spelt has a b7, so its Em7b5.

casualty01
02-08-2004, 08:25 PM
Originally posted by Bandit
After checking up in my guitar chord book I found that I was right in thinking that E dim7 is
8
7
8
7
or any similar shape up or down the fretboard in 3 semitone spacing.

I dunno what
8
6
8
7 is (apart from a nice sounding chord)

but it isnt a Diminished 7th chord

umm..... that first chord you posted........ IS a dim7th shape on the 4-3-2-1 string set (D-G-B-E) ...... but that's not E dim7... that would be A dim7 (or C dim7 or Eb Dim7 or F# dim7... any one of them really)

the second chord you posted IS indeed a dim7th chord. you're just looking at the wrong stringset. look at his post again.

Edim7
-
8
6
8
7
-

notice the 2 little dashes above and below the numbers? yeah, well, those represent the 2 E strings.......... so, his chord lies on the 5-4-3-2 string set.

which would make that shape a dim7th chord. specifically an E dim7th chord.

so, you're right in that the first shape is dim7th chord (on the 4-3-2-1 set) but it's not a E dim7. and beat was right in saying that it's also a min7 b5 shape (on the 5-4-3-2 set).

the confusion just stemmed from raindog and yourself not being clear enough about what string sets the shapes were on. actually, I thought raindogs chord diagrams were clear enough....... but looking at bandits confusion, I guess a few more dashes coulda been added to show the strings it everything was located on lol.

Cas-:peace:

timetraveller02
02-10-2004, 04:51 PM
I liked it :D but I'll always cherish Dmaj close to my heart