Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Diminished Chord Songs and Guitar Theory

A full diminished guitar chord is based on all minor third intervals. It consists of a root, minor third (b3), flat fifth (b5th) and double flat 7 (bb7th). For example, a Bdim chord includes the notes B D F and Ab. Each note is a minor third, or three frets, above the note before it. And B is a minor third above Ab to complete and repeat the formula. The notes of a Bdim guitar chord can be seen in the tabs below.


Diminished Chord Fingerings
In order to combine these notes and make a chord shape you have to transpose some intervals up an octave. Three of the most common diminished chord fingerings can be seen in the guitar tab below.


Diminished Chord Inversions
The neat thing about guitar diminished chords is how their inversions are formed on the fretboard. Since diminished chords are built on fixed minor third steps, you can simply slide any diminished chord fingering up 3 frets for an inversion. Move the same chord fingering up 3 frets again and you have the next inversion, and so on until you match the first position exactly one octave higher.

Diminished Chord Guitar Theory
If you know anything about guitar music theory, then you know that true diminished chords do not fully occur in the major scale. The closest you come is the seventh chord (see Fretboard Theory Chapter 6 Guitar Chord Progressions and Playing By Numbers). This scale degree has three of the four notes needed to build a full diminished chord. It has the root, minor third (b3), flat fifth (b5th), but no double flat 7 (bb7th). But many musicians refer to this as a diminished chord anyway. Other names include diminished triad and half-diminished.

Diminished chords also have many abbreviations. For example, 0, 07, dim, dim7, o, º, º(7), o7, º7. Unfortunately, some things are arbitrary. It can really get confusing to keep track of whether or not diminished means the four-note/all-minor-thirds form or the seventh degree of the major scale with its b7.

Diminished Chord Songs
The diminished chord gives us an unstable and restless chord that wants to lead to or resolve on something else. For this reason it's often thought of as a "leading chord". It acts like a stepping stone between chords. You can hear diminished chords used in popular songs like "Michelle" and "Glass Onion" by The Beatles, "Man In The Mirror" by Michael Jackson, "Crazy" by Willie Nelson/Patsy Cline, and "Don't Look Back In Anger" by Oasis.

For more diminished chord songs visit:

Jazz Guitar Chord Progression
Diminished chords are more common in jazz. Try this jazz chord progression: Bb Bdim Cm7 F7


Learn more about music theory for guitar including scales, chords, progressions, modes and more.

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