• Here’s How To Apply Diminished Chords In Cyclical Chord Progressions

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano,Theory

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    You arrived at this page because you’re interested in learning how to apply diminished chords in cyclical chord progressions.

    Although diminished chords are not commonly used, they are commonly applied in gospel music harmony to create or add more tension or bluesy feeling.

    Let’s take sometime to review diminished chords before we proceed to how they are applied in cyclical chord progressions.

    “What Are Diminished Chords?”

    Diminished chords (especially triads and seventh chords) are chords that are usually found on the seventh tone of the major and minor key.

    Diminished Chords In The Major Key

    In the key of C major:

    …where B:

    …is the seventh tone, the chords of the seventh tone (starting from B) are classified as diminished chords.

    “Based On Chord Formation In Thirds…”

    B:

    …and D:

    …then B-D:

    …and F:

    …produces the B diminished triad:

    Adding an A (a third above B-D-F):

    …produces the B half-diminished seventh chord:

    So, the diminished triad and the half-diminished seventh chords are the diminished chords in the major key.

    Diminished Chords In The Minor Key

    In the key of A minor (and in this case, A harmonic minor):

    …where G#:

    …is the seventh tone, the chords of the seventh tone (starting from G#) are classified as diminished chords.

    “Based On Chord Formation In Thirds…”

    G:

    …and B:

    …then G#-B:

    …and D:

    …produces the G# diminished triad:

    Adding an F (a third above G#-B-D):

    …produces the G# diminished seventh chord:

    So, the diminished triad and the diminished seventh chords are the diminished chords in the minor key.

    “In A Nutshell…”

    There are three common diminished chords:

    The diminished triad (of the major and minor key)

    The half-diminished seventh chord (of the major key)

    The diminished seventh chord (of the minor key)

    “Check Out All The Diminished Triads On The Keyboard…”

    C diminished triad:

    C# diminished triad:

    D diminished triad:

    D# diminished triad:

    E diminished triad:

    F diminished triad:

    F# diminished triad:

    G diminished triad:

    G# diminished triad:

    A diminished triad:

    A# diminished triad:

    B diminished triad:

    “Check Out All The Half-Diminished Seventh Chords On The Keyboard…”

    C half-diminished seventh chord:

    C# half-diminished seventh chord:

    D half-diminished seventh chord:

    D# half-diminished seventh chord:

    E half-diminished seventh chord:

    F half-diminished seventh chord:

    F# half-diminished seventh chord:

    G half-diminished seventh chord:

    G# half-diminished seventh chord:

    A half-diminished seventh chord:

    A# half-diminished seventh chord:

    B half-diminished seventh chord:

    “Check Out All The Diminished Seventh Chords On The Keyboard…”

    C diminished seventh chord:

    C# diminished seventh chord:

    D diminished seventh chord:

    D# diminished seventh chord:

    E diminished seventh chord:

    F diminished seventh chord:

    F# diminished seventh chord:

    G diminished seventh chord:

    G# diminished seventh chord:

    A diminished seventh chord:

    A# diminished seventh chord:

    B diminished seventh chord:

    The Application Of Diminished Chords In Cyclical Chord Progressions

    Diminished chords can easily be applied in cyclical progressions. There are two steps to this application:

    Step 1. Get started by playing a dominant seventh, dominant ninth, or dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord.

    Step 2. Lower the right hand diminished chord (which may be the diminished triad, half-diminished seventh chord, or the diminished seventh chord) by half-steps while progressing in fourths/fifths.

    Let’s do it step-by-step!

    Application Of The Diminished Triad In Cyclical Chord Progressions

    Playing the diminished triad a major third or (major tenth) above a given root note, produces the dominant seventh chord.

    Attention: A major third or major tenth interval is a product of the distance between the first and third tone of the scale in the major key.

    A major third above C:

    …is E:

    A major tenth above C:

    …is E (as well):

    Therefore, the E diminished triad:

    …played over C (on the bass):

    …produces the C dominant seventh chord:

    “Then Step 2…”

    We can go ahead and play cyclical progressions on the left hand, while the right hand diminished triad descends in half-steps.

    From the C dominant seventh chord:

    …to the F dominant seventh chord:

    The E diminished triad:

    …descended (by a half-step) to the Eb diminished triad:

    From the F dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …to the Bb dominant seventh chord:

    The Eb diminished triad:

    …descended (by a half-step) to the D diminished triad:

    “Check Out A Cyclical Chord Progression Using Diminished Triads…”

    From the F dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …to the Bb dominant seventh chord:

    …to the Eb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …to the Ab dominant seventh chord:

    …to the Db dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …to the Gb dominant seventh chord:

    …to the B dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …to the E dominant seventh chord:

    …to the A dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …to the D dominant seventh chord:

    …to the G dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …and back to the C dominant seventh chord:

    Final Words

    Now that you’re familiar with how the diminished triad is applied, go ahead and upgrade the diminished triad to a diminished seventh chord or a half-diminished seventh chord for a more advanced progression.

    For example, in the C dominant seventh chord:

    …the E diminished triad:

    …can be upgraded to an E diminished seventh chord:

    …to form a C dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    The E diminished triad:

    …can be upgraded to an E half-diminished seventh chord:

    …to form a C dominant ninth chord:

    That’s all for now, see you in the next lesson.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Richard Blocher

    Can I find a complete guide on diminished chords in PDF form, for future reference?

    Reply

    2 liphat

    Thanks for the insight, can we have a complete guide PDF

    Reply

    3 Jermaine Griggs
    4 isreal

    my name is isreal am a gospel pianist, please u need an update on my mail to help me on my playing thanks caoch.isrealisaiahd@gmail.com

    Reply

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