Turnarounds Part 2 – I bIIIdim II V with Jens Larsen

In this 2nd lesson on turnarounds I am going to go over the I bIIIdim II V progression and how you deal with the dreaded bIIIdim chord and make some good melodies over this chord.

Ultimate Guitar
In this 2nd lesson on turnarounds I am going to go over the I bIIIdim II V progression and how you deal with the dreaded bIIIdim chord and make some good melodies over this chord.

The Turnaround

In the first lesson we talked about the I VIdom7 II V7 progression, a progression where all the moves between the chords are fairly straight forward V I type resolutions. In the I bIIIdim II V that is no longer the case as we have a dim chord resolving a half step down to a II chord.

In Bb major that would look like this:

As you can see there is not really any way we can interpret the C#dim as any kind of G7 or Bdim type of chord, so it is not a dominant type resolution. Therefore it is a sub dominant diminished chord. If you really look in to the theory you'll find that it is in fact often referred to as a #IV diminished chord in inversion. I am not going to go into this part of the theory too much, since it is much more important that we can improvise over it and as you'll see there is another way to get the material for that than digging in to the origins of the chord in theory.


Let's first qucikly go over the scales that we need to play over this turnaround. For the Bbmaj7 and the Cm7 we can use the scale of the key: Bb Major.

The C# or Dbdim is a bit more tricky. You'll notice that I am going a bit back and forth with calling it C# and Db dim, in the case of this chord it is often a good idea to be a bit liberal with that. Since it is in a Bb major context, we can design a scale by looking at the notes of the chord:

C#dim: C# E G Bb

and the scale

Bb major: Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

If we try to alter the scale to fit the chord we get this scale: Bb C# D E F G A Bb

And as you might see this is the D minor harmonic scale:

The D harmonic minor scale is not the only scale we can use but this is one good option.

For the V chord I've chosen to use the altered scale, so in this case on the F7alt that means the F# minor melodic scale. If you want to check out some more info on the altered scale you can check out this lesson: Melodic Minor - Altered Scale.

Now that we have scales for all the chords we can chose a few arpeggios for each one. As in the first lesson I am using the arpeggio of the chord it self and an arpeggio that is a diatonic 3rd above or below the root of the chord. This is because that way this arpeggios will have a lot of common notes with the chord and fit it very well.

The Etude

As I mentioned in the first lesson on turnarounds it is important to work with clear lines that move logically to the next part of the line. Target notes and motifs are good ways to get this when you are working on making lines. Try to spend time composing lines and also improvising lines at a slow or medium tempo so that you can still stay in control of how you are making the lines.

In the first turnaround the line starts with a Dm7 arpeggios in inversion over the Bbmaj7 chord before it continues with a A major triad in inversion over the Dbdim. The A major triad as a part of the A7 chord works very well over the Dbdim. On the Cm6 the line is a minor cliché using the triad and the 9th of the chord. The F7altered is being spelled out with the help of an inversion of the B7 arpeggio.

The 2nd turnaround starts off with a Dm7 arpeggio, this time in root position. This is led into a sequence of the G diminished triad over the dim chord. The C# note in the dim chord is resolved to the 9th(D) of the Cm7. This way of resolving the notes to an extension of the Cm7 gives you the possibility to resolve them as if they continued to a Dm chord. The line over the Cm7 chord is for the rest a descending Ebmaj7 arpeggio, which continues into a GbmMaj7 arpeggio over the F7alt chord.

The third turnaround is using a motif idea over the first bar where the Bbmaj7 melody is a Dm pentatonic fragment which is repeated on the Dbdim, except that the first two notes are lowered a half step to fit the dim chord. The Cm7 melody is also a pentatonic fragment but then layed descending and the F7alt line is an ascending B7 arpeggio.

On the final turnaround the lines are composed of arpeggios chained together to create melodies with a large range. On the Bbmaj7 chord the melody is a Bb maj7 arpeggio played descending from the F. It continues down a Db dim arpeggio before it turns around with a Cm7 arpeggio, and an A shell voicing over the F7alt chord.

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Download a pdf of the examples for later study here: Turnarounds part 2 - I bIIIdim II V

About the Author:
By Jens Larsen. There are more lessons on his website. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Hey Jens, great lesson! Just like actually all of yours. Though I must admit that I don't understand everything, that's why I have a question. It might seem a bit stupid or at the wrong place, but could you explain briefly what's the essential difference between modes and scales? Everyone on Ultimate Guitar acts like those are the exact opposites of each other, but if I look modes up somewehere else on the internet, I am told "Modes are kind of specified scales, or generalized melodies, if you want so." And if I think of the modal system how it was used in the Middle Ages, it seems logical. But in jazz, there seems to be a different understanding of modes. And if that's true, I thought you could maybe explain this to me. Maybe I'll understand all of your lessons then. Thank you in advance!
    Thanks man! I understand why you find that confusing. As far as I can see there are quite a few views on what modes are and how you use the names. It's not really a question of right and wrong, but how you use the mode names. I think these are the main ones: 1. You use modes to describe the sound of a scale over a chord, within a song or key context, so saying that you play Lydian on an F chord in a song in C. This is very common in Jazz in general, and it is useful in someways since it let's you use modal names in a key context and in more modal music. It can also overcomplicate a simple progession though. 2. You use it in the strict way so F lydian only exists if you have an entire piece or major part of a piece only consisiting of an F lydian sound. This is the original and fundamental meaning of the modes. 3. F lydian is the fingering of C major which starts on a low F on the 6th string. So in this case it is not a scale but a specific way to play a scale. I use the 1st way, and often try to avoid the mode names. For the music I play the 2nd way of using mode names is in my opinion too strict to have any meaning, since I would then almost never be playing any modes. The 3rd way is for teaching and understanding the sound of the scales very unpractical and almost working against you: Try to play G mixolydian in the Aelian position in a song in the key of C... This topic always is causing a lot of discussion on the internet. We might have to duck and run for cover