Half Whole Diminished Scale Tutorial
The half-whole diminished scale is an 8 note symmetrical scale. The scale alternates half and whole steps until the scale starts again. This is why we refer to it as a symmetrical scale, because the repeating interval pattern takes you back to the note that you started on.
Due to the repeating interval pattern of half and whole steps, there are only 3 different half-whole diminished scales to learn for all 12 keys. The following 3 groups share the same half-whole diminished scale:
Group 1 : C, Eb, Gb,A
Group 2 : C#, E, G, Bb
Group 3 : D, F, Ab, B
If you look closely you will see that the notes in each group make up 4 different diminished chords. Diminished chords also have a symmetrical interval structure so Cdim7, Ebdim7, Gbdim7 and Adim7 all contain the same notes but are simply different inversions.
In the context of the half-whole diminished scale, you only need to learn one scale for each of these 3 groups (each scale starts on a different note but contains the exact same notes and intervals).
Half Whole Diminished Scale Groups File Type: pdf
Firstly try to memorise the 3 groups of diminished scales.
Practice playing up and down the scale tones sequentially.
Next try to create patterns using different combinations of intervals.
- Remember that the half whole diminished scale is suited to play over altered dominant chords, and can also be used over the II-7b5 chord in a minor 251.
Hi Hayden. On the last ii-v-i progression you played the half whole diminished scale of the ii chord over the entire progression and not just over ii chord. Can you explain the theory behind that? Thanks.
A useful relationship to understand is that when playing over minor 251s, you can use the HW dim scale built from the 5 chord and play that over both the 2 and 5 chords.
The line you are referring to, I transcribed that line from a Kenny Barron recording.
I can’t think of a simple theoretical relationship as to why the notes of E HW Dim work over A7.
But… if you analyse the scale degree of the notes played over A7, we have the 11, 5, b13, b7, root, 5, 11 & #9 (in relation to A7). 3 of the primary chord tones are present (root, 5th and b7) which gives it a strong harmonic foundation. The alterations b13, #9 are also present to add colour.
Another thing that sprung to mind when I transcribed the line was that over A7, he is simply playing the notes of D Dorian, which anticipates the resolution to D-.
However, the biggest ‘takeaway’ I took from transcribing the line, was how he resolves into the 1 Chord… the double grace note into the 9th of D-7 which sounds beautiful.
This is then something that I could apply to any 251.
Another important point which may help you out here…
Dominant chords are transitional chords, they are tense and dissonant sounding and so you will find that you have a lot of freedom in terms of the notes you choose to play. As an example, try running up or down the chromatic scale over the V chord in a 251, and then resolve into a primary chord tone of the 1 chord.
The key is to always have a point of resolution in mind.
Hope this makes sense… have a play around with the things mentioned above and let me know how you get on 🙂