Tweaking Simple Chords with Diminished Colours

Here’s one way I like to use the diminished scale:

Take plain sounds, simple sounds.

The kind of sound that some heathen type might play. You know, you’re in a pub and there’s some sweaty toothless simpleton with a guitar, drooling over a pint, mumbling about UKIP or something…

That chord!

And then you come along with your Jazz notes and your mortgage.

And you add one or two other notes from the diminished scale.

Get you!

A mélange of gritty urban realism and academic rectitude.

Sweet and Sour, Yin & Yang, Yes & No, etc.

Check out those chords above and you’ll hear what I mean.

Try using them like this:

  1. on a dominant chord in a II V I [pretty weird]
  2. on a one-chord vamp where you want to spice it up a bit. [bit more useful]

For example..

D-7 G7 C

  • X 5 3 0 1 X [this is functioning as D minor]
  • 3 X 0 0 2 X [this is functioning as G7]
  • X 3 4 0 3 X [this is functioning as C major]


Diminished II V I

Just for your information, I label the chords as simply as I can. I don’t find it useful to label these kinds of chords like D-7(add4) G(add#11, no 3rd) C (add 9, add #11, no 3rd) or however the hell you’d write that!

I think it’s better to just see the purpose of the chord and then understand what notes you’re adding and/or leaving out.

Hear the sound of the chord, the movements of the inner lines, the common tones, the bass motion, the overall sonority, the strong elements, the unstable elements, etc, etc.

Having the label sometimes gets in the way of hearing it.

Anyway! Your mission is to find something using these ideas and share whatever you find in the comments below :)

Speak soon,