The diminished scale is a musical structure that was used extensively in early twentieth-century classical music in the works of such composers as Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, and Bartok.  Jazz musicians eventually began to use the scale as well, to the extent that it has become a staple of the modern jazz musician’s vocabulary.  Despite how common this sound has become, it is frequently misunderstood and not studied as thoroughly as other often-used structures like the major, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales.

This three-part series of classes will attempt to remedy this situation by exploring in systematic detail the use of the diminished scale for melodic improvisation and by finding all of the three- and four-note structures available in the scale.  We will discuss the use of these structures as chords for comping and for harmonized melodies as well as arpeggios for single-note playing, and all will be broken down in a logical and guitar-friendly manner.

Although the diminished scale in and of itself may not necessarily be a “modern” sound in jazz, many in the modern school of jazz guitarists like Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jonathan Kreisberg, and Mike Moreno have begun to use diminished sounds in new and exciting ways in their playing and original compositions.

This series explains and implements the traditional uses of the diminished scale, but many of the sounds go beyond the typical and into uncharted territory.  And though this class provides numerous examples of interesting ways to make use of these sounds, the material presented here could easily be a springboard for each individual to forge a unique and personal vocabulary.

This series could be helpful to jazz guitarists of any level (or any musician who wants to learn more about the diminished scale), but it is mainly geared toward intermediate to advanced players who already have command of some of the fundamentals of guitar playing and of the jazz language.

The Diminished Scale: A Modern Jazz Guitar Approach – Part 1 covers:

  • Basic structure of the scale and its relation to the fully diminished seventh chord
  • All voicings on the guitar of the diminished seventh chord
  • Diminished seventh arpeggio fingerings
  • A breakdown of all the notes in the whole-half and half-whole versions
  • The three groups of four interrelated diminished scale “keys” which facilitate easier learning, especially for guitarists
  • A thorough explanation of how and when to use both versions of the scale, with examples
  • Suggested scale fingerings
  • Numerous exercises for gaining melodic fluency with the scale including intervallic patterns and permutations, as well as rhythmic variations, both across the strings in one position and up and down the guitar neck
  • Exercises for achieving an organic flow in and out of diminished sounds when improvising melodic lines
  • Sample lines from standard chord progressions that give real-world examples of integrating diminished sounds into improvisations
  • Exploration of using the half-whole, or auxiliary, diminished scale to generate different sounds on dominant chords in situations such as one-chord vamps and blues
  • Original tune using diminished scale material on a jazz blues with diminished scale-based reharmonization
  • Running time: 100 minutes
  • Includes 23 pages of written examples and exercises
  • All musical examples from the video are provided in music notation, tablature, and chord grid form.
  • Each example performance in the video is titled and numbered for easy navigation.
  • MP3 backing tracks for written examples, including full-length track for improvisation practice

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Class Content

The Diminished Scale: A Modern Jazz Guitar Approach - Part 1
The Diminished Scale: A Modern Jazz Guitar Approach – Part 1 01:40:00
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