#1
Hey guys,

I have a sheet of paper here from my old guitar teacher with a diminished scale written just along the Low e string, for writing metal purposes.

I have no idea what key the scale is actually in though, as in what note is the tonic.

The sheet reads -0-1-3-4-6-7-9-10-12-13

I understand that the spelling for the diminished scale is just WHWHWHW then another whole to get back to the root.

So just whole half whole half etc for the scale spelling.

But if this is just the case, how the do you distinguish where the root is if every pitch is just going up with these same two intervals?

Also I might as well ask, does the diminished scale have 8 notes instead of 7 compared to major/minors just simply because with the spelling that is just how many notes you need to get back to where you started?
#2
^It's E HW.

There's two diminished scales, in a sense. WH, and HW.

So this is E/G/Bb/Db HW

OR

F/Ab/Cb(B)/D HW.

To answer your other question. All the roots are the same, because the scale is perfectly symmetrical. There are 8 notes because a diminished scale is a diminished chord with chromatic lower neighbor tones.

4 chord tones + 4 chromatic lower notes = 8.

Lemme know if that makes sense, and also let me be the first to say that there are WAY cooler applications for that thing than diminished scale based riffery. It's a powerful improvisation and compositional tool.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#3
in metal you usually see diminished arpeggios far more often than the actual scale

in general, really, actually
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#4
Ahhh now I understand mate, because I also have E locrian and E harmonic minor written down in the same format, but I could easily see that they were both in E.

But the diminished one, I have a book that tells me the scale spelling and it says from the root its a Whole jump to the next note. So I was like well here it goes 0 then 1 so half step, so the root must be a different note and is just written starting on the open E for guitar purposes. But I couldn't tell which note actually was the root since like you say its all symmetrical.

I didn't even know that there was two types of diminished scale spellings.

It all makes sense mate but just with the diminished chord and chromatics neighbours bit. So do you mean the scale is made up of the intervals of the chord and then the chromatic neighbours are just the gaps filled in based upon the scales spelling?

But yeah cheers man, since you said that there's a half whole version of the scale, E Diminished makes perfect sense and completely consistent with the other two scales.
#5
Quote by swampert948
Ahhh now I understand mate, because I also have E locrian and E harmonic minor written down in the same format, but I could easily see that they were both in E.

But the diminished one, I have a book that tells me the scale spelling and it says from the root its a Whole jump to the next note. So I was like well here it goes 0 then 1 so half step, so the root must be a different note and is just written starting on the open E for guitar purposes. But I couldn't tell which note actually was the root since like you say its all symmetrical.

I didn't even know that there was two types of diminished scale spellings.

It all makes sense mate but just with the diminished chord and chromatics neighbours bit. So do you mean the scale is made up of the intervals of the chord and then the chromatic neighbours are just the gaps filled in based upon the scales spelling?

But yeah cheers man, since you said that there's a half whole version of the scale, E Diminished makes perfect sense and completely consistent with the other two scales.


W (whole) means the two pitches involved are two semitones (a tone) apart.
H (half) means they are one semitone apart.

On guitar, pitches produced at adajacent frets on SAME string are one semitone apart.

Start from open E string (fret zero, the nut) ... then WH selects

frets 0, 2, 3 : W = (0, 2). H = (2, 3).

If you play HWHWHWHW instead of WHWHWHWH, you get the unsurprisingly named "half-whole" scale, which is used loads for outside playing with jazz, especially against dominant chords (using interval symbols, half-whole scale = (1,b2, b3,3, b5,5, 6,b7) ... see the dom7 there. Elements of both maj and min blues scale are present in that scale, so can be given a nice bluesy feel. Like diminished, it has 4 roots each 3 semitones apart, so you then get players using for example Eb half-whole licks against A7. (Eb is 6 semitones above A) or F# half-whole againt A7 (9 semitones above A). Sound great.

Contains some vicious chords, also ... e.g over A

5 8 6 6
5 8 8 7
3 6 8 6
x x x x
0 0 0 0
x x x x

Some masters of this : John Schofield (e.g on Blue Matter album), and Brecker Brothers (e.g. Skunk Funk track).

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 19, 2015,
#6
Quote by swampert948
Ahhh now I understand mate, because I also have E locrian and E harmonic minor written down in the same format, but I could easily see that they were both in E.
The diminished scale is not really "in" anything, in that it doesn't have a root.
Or rather, any of the notes could be a root, depending on the chord you apply it to.
Doesn't matter what the lowest or starting note is.
Quote by swampert948

But the diminished one, I have a book that tells me the scale spelling and it says from the root its a Whole jump to the next note. So I was like well here it goes 0 then 1 so half step, so the root must be a different note and is just written starting on the open E for guitar purposes. But I couldn't tell which note actually was the root since like you say its all symmetrical.

I didn't even know that there was two types of diminished scale spellings.
Right. There are only 3 diminished scales, and each of them has two modes, WH and HW.
Each of them also has 8 potential names.
Quote by swampert948

It all makes sense mate but just with the diminished chord and chromatics neighbours bit. So do you mean the scale is made up of the intervals of the chord and then the chromatic neighbours are just the gaps filled in based upon the scales spelling?
More or less, yes.

With dim7 chords, the WH scale gives you the chord tones, and 4 notes a half-step below each chord tone. Below is important: chromatic approaches up to chord tones tend to sound better than down; and extensions a half-step above chord tones are what jazz theory calls "avoid notes" (but beware tricky concept).
Quote by swampert948

But yeah cheers man, since you said that there's a half whole version of the scale, E Diminished makes perfect sense and completely consistent with the other two scales.
Yes. The HW is applied to 7b9 chords, and a similar rule applies about chromatic neighbours.

The scale your teacher gave you is E F G G# A# B C# D E F (up to 13, but of course it carries on beyond there).
You could call it E HW dim, F WH dim, G HW dim, and so on all the way up.

It could be applied to 4 possible dom7 chords (E7, G7, Bb7, C#7), and 4 possible dim7s (Fdim7, G#dim7, Bdim7, Ddim7) - although those dim7s are all just inversions of each other of course. (Just as there's only 3 dim scales, there's only 3 dim7 chords.)

On the dom7s, the HW dim gives you the 4 chord tones (E G# B D for E7), plus lower chromatic neighbours for 3 of them (G, A#, C#, #9, #11 and 13), and a b9 as well (F). Normally in jazz charts, you can regard a "7b9" chord as a hint that the HW dim scale will fit. (Although other choices are available .) A "13b9" more or less dictates HW dim.

The connection is that a dim7 chord can often be regarded as a rootless 7b9.
E.g., G#dim7 is a rootless E7b9. Both chords are likely to lead to Am or A, and both will take the same diminished scale: E HW dim = G# WH dim. Doesn't really matter what you call it.
Last edited by jongtr at Jul 19, 2015,
#8
I wonder how useful it is to say that "there are 3 scales" when these "scales" are defined by one mode. Technically, these "scales" are musical sets which are identical to each other by transposition. (0235689e).

Rather, I find it more useful to say that there are two modes, WH and HW, and 12 unique notes in a Western octave that can serve as "tonal centers". Ergo 24 different names.

By the way, it is more useful for the OP to add information to what has already been said than to add redundancy upon redundancy.
Last edited by NeoMvsEu at Jul 19, 2015,
#9
^Yeah. The reason I usually deal with it as three sets of pitches is because that idea of diminished/dominant equivalency and planing things by minor thirds is a useful improvisational tool to be aware of.

But I agree.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#10
Quote by NeoMvsEu
I wonder how useful it is to say that "there are 3 scales" when these "scales" are defined by one mode. Technically, these "scales" are musical sets which are identical to each other by transposition. (0235689e).

Rather, I find it more useful to say that there are two modes, WH and HW, and 12 unique notes in a Western octave that can serve as "tonal centers". Ergo 24 different names.
Agreed. By "3 scales", I meant of course in the same sense as there are 12 major scales.
#11
Quote by jerrykramskoy
"Avoid" notes has to be the biggest misnomer ever chosen ... players are drawn to them like bees to a honey pot :-)
Right. "Awkward tensions", or something similar, may be better. Yes? Generally unsuitable as chord extensions (in conventional functional harmony), but no reason to avoid them otherwise - and often good reasons to use them.