forgot password

The Woodshed: Turning diminished chords into 7th's

Back to the List of Articles

JJ Rocks Article # 45:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 8, May, 2007
This article is for intermediate guitarists who are tired of using the same old seventh chords. Im referring to the ones derived from E shapes and A shapes, which in my system are referred to as form #1 and form#2. (Other musicians can just apply this basic chord theory to their instrument)

Now most of you at the intermediate level know a few diminished chords but rarely use them. So heres a way to make use of a chord that is probably just sitting in the back of your head with nothing to do.

First play a diminished chord starting on either your forth string D of your fifth string E. And seeing on how any of the four notes in this chord can be called the root, well just start on the lowest one.

So lets drop that note down one half step. For instance if you are playing a G diminished on your first four strings and your lowest note is G on your forth string. Just drop the G note down a half step to Gb and now you have a nice Gb seventh chord.

Now return that note to its original place and lets go to the third string. That note should be C#. So drop that down a half step and it becomes the root of a C seventh chord with the fifth on the bottom (nice voicing).

Ok, lets do the same thing on the second string but dont forget to return the note that you just changed back to where it was. When you take the note on your second string down a half step it becomes the root of an Eb seventh chord voiced 3rd, flat seventh, root (Eb), and 5th on top. This one is also very useful.

All right that leaves us with the first string. In this case the note will be Bb. Drop that down a half step and it becomes the root of an A seventh cord with its root on top. The voicing will be flat seventh, 3rd, 5th, and root.

Dont forget! When you go to drop a note down a half step on a next string, make sure that the previous note that you had changed is returned to its proper place in the diminished chord that you are working with. If you move them all and leave them, you will just wind up with a different diminished chord thats a half step lower.

So there you go. Now you can dust off your diminished chords and turn them into four new voicings for seventh chords. The reason for that is that a diminished is also viewed as seventh - flat nine chords. So instead of thinking of staring with the root on each note of the diminished chord, just think of them as all flat nines going down a half step and becoming roots again leaving you with four different plain seventh chords. This will work on any instrument that you can play chords (or arpeggios) on, because a chord voicings have to do with music in general, not just guitar. See you next month!

JJ Rocks - The Spotlight Zone