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Thread: Help me use this diminished lick

  1. #1

    Default Help me use this diminished lick

    I am working on a chord melody, and there is a nice diminished lick in it. I need help with using it in another context.

    The lick is pretty simple. One chord shape that moves up three frets, and then three frets again. Diminished!

    The chord is an F on the D string (3). The D on the A string (5). And the A flat on the E string (4). Again move this shape up three frets. Three more, and then back if you like.

    2 questions. What is the root note of this chord shape? What chords could you use this lick over?

    The genre is gypsy jazz btw. Thanks for any help with this!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Any note is a root. The 4th tone would be B. D, F, Ab, B are the 4 tones, all a minor third apart.

    I believe you could use it over Bb7, Db7, E7 or G7.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Quote Originally Posted by Andyesquire View Post
    ... F on the D string (3). The D on the A string (5). And the A flat on the E string (4)...
    Well I'm no expert but... so you've got x-3-5-4...

    Looks like a simplified version of either:

    • 1-3-5-4, which is one of several ways to play Ddim (D F Ab). No 7. Root D.

    • 4-3-5-4, which would make it a Ddim7 (D F Ab B) instead, in which case I think it would be like Bill says below:


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Any note is a root. The 4th tone would be B. D, F, Ab, B are the 4 tones, all a minor third apart.
    Looks that way alright, if one adds the B to make it into dim7: a reverse chord-finder website says that the notes "F D Ab B" are any of the following dim7 chords:

    Abdim7
    Bdim7
    Ddim7
    Fdim7

    To double-check those chords, since I'm terrible with flat and/or (for me) unusual keys, I use a different website where you type in chord names and it gives you the letters/notes:

    Abdim7 = Ab B D F
    Bdim7 = B D F Ab
    Ddim7 = D F Ab B
    Fdim7 = F Ab B D


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I believe you could use it over Bb7, Db7, E7 or G7.
    I'm not sure but here are the notes in those chords... they look different:

    Bb7 = Bb D F Ab
    Db7 = Db F Ab B
    E7 = E G# B D
    G7 = G B D F

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  6. #4
    Registered User Bob Visentin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Yes any note in the chord could be the root. Naming it would depend on the context. The key, the chord before and after. Usually the chord before is a half step lower, say for example a E7 (E,Ab,B,D). Then you raise the root note up a half step to F and you have an Fdim7. Then resolve to and A.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    The trick of using a dim7 chord over a V7 a half step lower is to create a 7b9 chord:

    A7 = A C# E G

    Bb dim7 = Bb Db Fb Abb - yes that's the correct spelling, A double flat - enharmonic to Bb C# E G

    Played together you get A7b9 = A C# E G Bb

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  10. #6
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post

    Bb dim7 = Bb Db Fb Abb - yes that's the correct spelling, A double flat - enharmonic to Bb C# E G

    Played together you get A7b9 = A C# E G Bb
    That is, C#dim7 over an A bass. (Normally someone else in the group will be playing the bass note, since mandolin has only four courses, and no real "bass" notes.)

    C#dim7 is a diatonic (scale-based) chord in the key of D minor, and easily used as a dominant in D major for a little chromatic colour.

    The Bb dim7 spelling suits Gb7b9, a useful substitute if you're playing in the key of C flat!

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  12. #7

    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    That is, C#dim7 over an A bass. (Normally someone else in the group will be playing the bass note, since mandolin has only four courses, and no real "bass" notes.)

    C#dim7 is a diatonic (scale-based) chord in the key of D minor, and easily used as a dominant in D major for a little chromatic colour.
    C#dim7 is not diatonic in D minor, since there is no C# in the key signature. But, C# is usually found in D minor as the raised leading tone. It is what makes harmonic minor.

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  14. #8
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Right, the chords of a minor key are based on the harmonic minor scale.
    Last edited by Bruce Clausen; May-20-2019 at 12:39pm.

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  16. #9
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Another context? It's what's normally played -on piano- in the old black & white pre-talkies, just as Snidely Whiplash is tying Liza Belle to the railroad tracks, with a steam locomotive fast approaching from the distance!

    Or you could just listen to The Beatles' mid-'60s revival of the (even THEN old) "'Til There Was You". Granted that it's on guitar, but Mr. Harrison nicely moves the series of diminished 7th chords (for my money, the SAME diminished chord) on up the neck 3 frets at a time.

    While I've had relatively little (read that "absolutely no") formal music education, I still find it amazing how much can be learned just because someone had pointed out such details along the way.
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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  18. #10
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    Another context? It's what's normally played -on piano- in the old black & white pre-talkies, just as Snidely Whiplash is tying Liza Belle to the railroad tracks, with a steam locomotive fast approaching from the distance!
    And on old 45's as well. For example:



    (FWIW, I'm pretty sure it's Mr. Lennon doing the three-fret slide in Till There Was You, on rhythm guitar in the second bar of the A section each time.)

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  20. #11

    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    Thanks everyone for this great discussion! Very helpful.

    Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I had to run out of the theater. The train was coming right at me!!

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  22. #12
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    Default Re: Help me use this diminished lick

    I taught "classical" music theory for years. When Tim Connel told me to use a "flat-ninth-without-root instead of a V7" I didn't know what he was talking about (I do now). The "root" is implied in these chords, but in 19th Century based classical theory you have to call it and decide which note is root. I tried your progression and it sounds cool! Added some Jesse McReynolds cross picking for even more scary fun.

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