In A Spreadsheet All Formulas Must Begin With What Symbol Easy Beginner Guitar Lessons – My First Steps to Learning Diminished Chords on the Guitar

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Easy Beginner Guitar Lessons – My First Steps to Learning Diminished Chords on the Guitar

It’s easy to tell when a piece of music has a diminished chord…that’s usually when the guitar player stops playing and starts scratching his head.

Yes, diminished chords have been known to give guitar players brain blisters; but it doesn’t have to be that way! Some of the confusion comes from the different types of diminished chords.

There is a diminished triad of three notes; the four note diminished 7th version and then there is their musical cousin the half diminished chord also known as the minor 7th flat 5 chord.. but that is another story.

Today I’m going to focus on the diminished seventh chord because it’s the most common diminished chord in popular music.

Generally, when we see a diminished chord, they are referring to a diminished sept.

Diminished Chord Structure:

(a) The formula for a three-note diminished triad is 1-b3-b5

(b) the four-note diminished seventh chord formula is 1-b3-b5-bb7

Important: the symbol “bb” is a double flat; which simply means that you flatten the note twice, i.e. move the note back down the fretboard (away from you).

The chord symbols used to write diminished chords are: Co, C dim, or Cdim7

Diminished seventh chords:

Creating diminished seventh chords and designing your own chord shapes is a breeze once you know how to write them!

Here’s how it works: Use the first, flat third, flat fifth, and double flat seventh notes in the major scale to find the correct notes to create a diminished chord.

Let’s start by creating a Cdim chord…

step 1. Use the major scale as a starting point

step 2. Apply the chord construction formula 1-b3-b5-bb7

step 3. Find the appropriate notes on the guitar

In the C key:

C major scale = CDEFGABC

Remove the 1-b3-b5-bb7 notes of the scale = C-Eb-Gb-Bbb and so we would write C as a diminished seventh.

Cdim7 = C-Eb-Gb-Bbb

If you try this on a guitar, you’ll notice that Bbb is the same pitch as the note “A”.

Using the same approach, we create other reduced septa orders as follows.

starting with…

Ebdim7

step 1. Eb major scale Eb-FG-Ab-Bb-CD-Eb

step 2 extract 1-b3-b5-bb7

answer: Ebdim7 = Eb-Gb-AC

here is how we would write…

Ddim7

step 1. D major scale DEF#-GABC#-D

step 2 extract 1-b3-b5-bb7

answer: Ddim7 = DF-Ab-B

Musical applications: Used primarily as a connecting chord to create tension and dynamics.

In the following example, I use the diminished seventh chord as musical “filler” to create a sense of upward movement in the chord sequence.

Example 1.

A /// | Bm /// | C#m /// | D /// | changes…

A /A#dim/ | Bm/Cdim/ | C#m /// | D /// | etc

Notice how I used diminished chords? I added a diminished chord that was a semitone higher than the original chord.

They are also great for introductions:

Example 2

C /// | G /// || could play like this…

C / C#dim / | Dm7 / G7/ ||

Unique Chord Quality: Any note in a chord can act as a key note, eg Cdim7 is written C-Eb-Gb-A, so the same chord could also be called Ebdim7, Gbdim7 or Adim7.

If we consider the enharmonic choices Eb = D# and Gb = F#, we would have a total of six names for one chord shape.

Summary:

Cdim7 could also be called …

Ebdim7, D#dim7, Gbdim7, F#dim7, Adim7

Edge application: Each diminished seventh chord is repeated every three frets; meaning you can play any diminished seventh chord, move the exact same shape up or down three frets on the fretboard and still play the same chord, just with a different inversion of the chord.

Enjoy playing your guitar.

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