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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.

3-Part Series

Class one of this series concentrates on the basics of the diminished scale, how and when to use it, and how to weave it organically into single-note improvisations.
Class two covers all 14 triads and/or three-note structures within the diminished scale, how to find them and voice them on the guitar, and how to use them for comping and soloing.
Class three locates and investigates all 20 four-note chords or structures from the diminished scale and presents them in a guitar-friendly context that will make them easy to implement for comping and soloing.

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

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

Course Reviews

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  1. Profile photo of David Tardio

    A course you can return to many, many times

    5

    I have purchased many of Tom’s classes and have been very happy with all of them. It is amazing how much material he can put into one class. And he does it in such an organized way that you can keep going back to different sections to improve or brush up on one particular aspect of the material without having to go looking all over the lesson to find what you need. I particularly like the scale exercises that help you resolve from the diminished scale to a major scale – this is something I have REALLY needed to work on in my own practice (that is, connecting ideas). If you really want to improve your command of a particular concept then you will be very happy with all of Tom’s classes (check out his melodic minor series as well for a similar approach).

    ~ DAVID TARDIO (May 8, 2018)

  2. Profile photo of Andrew Hughes

    5

    Tom’s classes are the best instructional videos on the net. Consistently outstanding instruction from a monster player. Buy all his videos without fear… these videos will provide a lifetime of inspiration.

    ~ Andrew Hughes (March 22, 2017)

  3. Profile photo of J. Andrew

    5

    Tom’s classes are extremely well put together! The course materials are clear and thorough. I highly recommend any of his courses!!!

    ~ Jay Heaverlo (August 2, 2016)

  4. Profile photo of Armando Nunez

    5

    This whole series on the Diminished scale is fantastic! Tom is a master teacher. He has a way of making everything very easy to understand, even when dealing with complex subjects. He gives plenty of examples which are by themselves excellent means to digest the material, while on the other hand it’s easy to figure out new ways for practicing these exercises, in order to personalize them according to your own level and interests. I own several of Lippincott’s videos and they all have the same level of excellence.
    I am a practicing musician and a college professor, and these teachings serve me well in both areas. I find it easy to know how to apply these concepts to my own playing (I’ve been playing for almost 30 years), but I also easily adapt the same concepts to teach my beginner/intermediate students. The method of organization has helped me in organizing my lessons better.
    I could not be happier with these courses!
    These videos are worth so much more than the price you pay for them.

    ~ Armando Nunez (May 2, 2016)

  5. Profile photo of patrick walden

    5

    I just want to add to the general feelings expressed above relating this class,
    simply put this is a brilliant lesson, Toms way of teaching is both accessible and deep, there is enough material to keep you going for a long time, 10/10

    ~ patrick walden (November 29, 2015)

  6. Profile photo of carlos leon

    5

    As always another great class from Tom. You will get the basics about the diminished scale, examples and ways to use in real context, everything well organized. Also don?t forget to check the diminished classes 2 and 3. You will get a lot information that you wont find on the internet or any other book.

    ~ carlos leon (November 2, 2015)

  7. Profile photo of Tim Hamrick

    5

    Another excellent class by Tom. All of the information is taught in a clear, easy to understand manner with more than enough examples to get you started using the Diminished Scale. Kudos Tom!

    ~ Tim Hamrick (October 24, 2015)

  8. Profile photo of Pat Lajoie

    5

    Like Tom’s previous lessons, I’ve found all three of his latest lessons based on the Diminished scale to be excellent value. He presents the material in a very comprehensive and clear manner. I have never been disappointed with any of his lessons.

    Highly recommended

    Thanks again Tom and Mike.

    Pat Lajoie

    ~ Pat Lajoie (September 20, 2015)

  9. Profile photo of Josh Isaak

    5

    All Tom’s classes are top notch and this one is no different. He is a gifted teacher that offers a vast amount of material. My suggestion is to watch his lessons once through without your guitar and just enjoy and absorb the material. Then go back and watch it in chucks while practicing along with the material. I’ve been through this course three times now and am still learning.

    ~ Josh Isaak (September 18, 2015)

  10. Profile photo of James S.

    5

    Amazing class, simply amazing. Like all of Tom’s classes that I have bought, the format is magnificently organized, clearly laid out, the written materials are an endless supply of ideas, and he explains the uses of the diminished scale in a clear, fresh, and vibrant way. I highly recommend this class; I intend, when circumstances allow, to purchase the other two in this series as well.

    ~ james seaberry (September 8, 2015)

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