This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores how to Harmonize the Diminished Scale using Contemporary Two-Handed Voicings.
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The art of Harmonized Diminished Scales
How to Harmonize Diminished Scales using Contemporary Two-Handed Voicings
Harmonized Diminished Scales from the Root through the 7th of the Sound
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Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are going to discover harmonized, diminished scales. You're going to learn how to harmonize diminished scales using contemporary two-handed voicings, and you are going to play harmonized diminished scales, from the root through the seventh of the sound. So as I always say, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner, intermediate player, an advanced player, or even if you are an experienced and seasoned professional, you will find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring the harmonization of diminished scales to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills if you are a new jazz panel skills podcast listener, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Visit jazz piano skills comm to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available for you to use. For example, the educational podcast packets that I produce and publish every week to go along with each podcast episode the illustrations to lead sheets to play alongs invaluable resources and practice tools for you to utilize. If you are a jazz piano skills member you have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum. Now, this is a curriculum that is loaded with comprehensive courses using a self-paced format. various educational talks, interactive media, video demonstrations, play alongs, and more. You also as a jazz piano skills member have access to the online weekly master classes you have a reserved seat, which which are in essence those masterclasses are in essence a one-hour online lesson with me each and every week. As a jazz piano skills member, you also have access to the private jazz piano community. This is a community that hosts a variety of engaging forums from podcast-specific forums to core-specific forums, and of course, to general jazz piano forums as well. And last but not least, as a jazz piano skills member, you certainly do not want to miss out on this you have unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Again, visit jazz piano skills.com. To learn more about all of the educational opportunities, and how to easily activate your membership. There are several membership plans to choose from. So check it out. If you have any questions, please let me know. I am always happy to help in any way that I can. Also, don't forget that in addition to the weekly jazz piano skills podcast in which everyone can enjoy, there is a blog that everyone can enjoy as well. And I hope that you do. I take some time at the end of each week to jot down my final thoughts about the jazz piano skill explored in the podcast episode. Just simply as a way to provide you with some additional insight address any aspects about the jazz panel skill that I may have forgotten to mention, or that may just need a little more reflection or elimination. It's also a great way for me to share some final words of encouragement and inspiration. So be sure to check out my blog, you will find the blog link in the menu bar right across the top of the page at jazz piano skills podcast.com or you can scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see an entire blog section. Check it out and let me know what you think your feedback is always welcome and very much appreciated. Okay, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano. Let's discover, learn and play harmonized diminished scales. Today is a big day because today we conclude our five-week exploration of the harmonization of scales. This five-episode series started with the harmonization of major scales back on June 15. Then the dominant scales on June 22. The minor scales on June 29, and the half diminished scales last week, July 20. And now, today, the diminished scale. Wow, what a series a ton of information for sure addressing
a huge and I mean, huge, gigantic plus jazz piano skill. I have made this point at the end of the previous podcast episodes dealing with the harmonization of scales, which of course I will do again today. But I want to take a moment to mention it right now at the beginning of this episode. The harmonization of scales is a big-time, jazz piano skill. Let me say that again because it's that important. The harmonization of scales is a big-time jazz piano skill that will take time to digest both mentally and physically. So be patient. Listen and really listen to these podcast episodes this five-episode series when studying the harmonization of scales and be sure to use and reuse the podcast packet materials to help you get the upper hand when practicing the harmonization of scales. harmonizing scales is always a foreign concept when first introduced because as I mentioned in previous podcast episodes, scales are never ever, ever ever taught harmonically. In fact, when we think about scales, our minds immediately think of a sequential line of notes played 123 or four octaves in both hands us and then descending. That's it. And why do we think this way? Because that is precisely how scales are taught. Our minds never ever ever think of the scale is being played harmonically. And why? Because scales are never ever, ever taught harmonically. And again, this is very unfortunate. I stressed this in the previous podcast episodes as well. This is very unfortunate because as jazz pianists, we need to be able to approach melodies. harmonically, we need to be capable of comping not just rhythmically, but melodically. And there is only one way to develop this jazz piano skill. And that is through dedicated hair, relentless study, and practicing of scales harmonized bottom line, we have to condition our mind, our ears to think this way, and our hands to physically play this way. Because, as you all know, our hands and our ears will never, ever, ever go where they have never ever been musical fact. It's just that simple. Now, I brought this up in every episode dealing with the harmonization of scales, and of course, it's important to bring it up again. today. There's more than one way to approach the harmonization of scales. But I am sharing with you how I like to approach harmonizing scales using a two-handed five-note contemporary shape, contemporary voicings contemporary, and that the voicings are constructed using primarily intervals of a fourth rather than the traditional interval of a third. And if you are unfamiliar with quarter voicings, and I would suggest checking out the entire podcast series I did on the shapes and the sound starting back on November 10 of last year 2020 starting with the primary major voicings and even better yet, if you're a jazz piano skills member you have access to the jazz piano skills curriculum, the jazz piano skills courses, so be sure to study courses 21 through 26 and be sure to study the soon to be released courses 27 through 31 that deals specifically with these contemporary voicings. You can watch video demonstrations of me playing the major dominant minor half diminished and diminished shapes and sounds voicings All 12 keys. These contemporary voicings, these quarter or 40 voicings are my go-to voicings for harmonizing melodies and for comping behind instrumentalist and vocalist. I am also going to share with you today a way to methodically, effectively, and efficiently practice this essential jazz piano skill so that you maximize
your musical growth when practicing. So the agenda for today is as follows number one, I am going to present seven two-handed contemporary diminished voicings, one for each note of the diminished scale. Number two, I am going to present 10 exercises that focus on compact scale, and arpeggio motion to minimize linear movement. Number three, I am going to present one exercise that spans the entire scale from the root to the seventh, and one exercise that plays the scale as an arpeggio spanning from the root to the 13th. All in all, I will be presenting as I did with the previous podcast episodes dealing with the harmonization scales, I will be presenting a total of 12 exercises today. Number four, I will be constructing all of my voicings today, based on the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale and why the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale because it is the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale, which actually produces the diminished chord. And number five, I will be playing all demonstrations today all exercises using the tempo of 140. And as always, I highly recommend using slower tempos when tackling any jazz piano skill, least when initially attacking any jazz piano skill. So tempos of 6575 85 even slower, totally acceptable. This jazz piano skills lesson, as were the previous four podcast episodes dealing with harmonizing the major dominant minor and half the many scales this lesson. Today is a biggie it will forever change how you think about scales, it will forever change how you play scales, it will dramatically change your jazz piano sound. If you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now to download and print the illustrations and the lead sheets. The podcast packets, you have access to all of the podcast packets. And you should absolutely be using them when listening to this podcast. And of course, you should be absolutely using them when practicing when studying and practicing these voicings if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio Pandora on and on and on, then be sure to go to jazz piano skills podcast.com to download the podcast packets, you will find the download links in the show notes. Now one final but extremely important note before we dig in. If you're thinking that the jazz piano skills that I just outlined in today's agenda that we are about to discover, learn and play if you're thinking that in some ways or even if it all the way the scales are over your head, then I would say to you okay, continue to listen. continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode. The fact is all skills all skills are over our heads when first introduced and that is precisely why the first step we need to take in order to improve our musicianship is to listen. Our musical growth begins upstairs mentally before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So listen, listen to this podcast lesson now to discover and learn. The play will come later. Okay, so we're going to harmonize the diminished scale, the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale so the scale itself is C, D flat, E flat, F flat, G flat A flat, and B double flat or the note a, I'm gonna play just a simple diminished chord in my left hand, C diminished, I want to play that scale. Beautiful. That mode, the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale, the seventh mode. That is what produces the diminished chord, right? The major scales, the major scale produces our major and our dominant and a minor
and our half diminished, it does not produce the diminished sound. So the obvious question always is, then well, where does the diminished chord come from? It comes from the harmonic minor scale, and it comes from the seventh mode of a harmonic minor scale. And it is precisely that mode that I'm going to use today. to harmonize so our very first two-handed contemporary voicing, I'm going to have in my left hand, the E flat, and the note a, in my right hand, I'm going to have E flat again, a flat, and C, I'm treating my C as the melody note and sits up on top. So I get this sound. Wow. Now that's a very different diminished sound from your straight kind of block chord. Right there is your traditional block chord 1357. And here is my first voicing using contemporary two-handed voicings. Again, E flat, a the left hand, E flat, a flat, and C as my melody in the right hand. So the second note of that mode is the note D flat, everything stays the same. Everything stays the same in the voicing with the exception of the melody note which is D flat. So I'm just going to take my little finger in my right hand, that's C, I'm going to read it one half step that D flat. So my first two notes of the of the scale C and D flat sound like this together, side by side again.
So I want to bring the ensemble and I want to drop these two voicings these two shapes into a musical context, placed them side by side, and see how they sound. So I'm going to start off by just simply playing each voicing, then I will start to add some rhythmic variation with using those shapes to see what I can come up with develop a little rhythmic vocabulary. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.
Wow, what a sound, right, your ears are gonna get stretched throughout this episode, because you're gonna start hearing the diminished chord in ways that you've never heard the diminished sound, right. So now we're going to move to the third in fourth of the scale of the mode. So the third is E flat, and the fourth is F flat or the note E. So in the left hand, we're gonna play a flattened D. And then the right hand, I'm going to play G flat, C flat, which is a note B, and E flat. So I get this. Now to get to the fourth, which is the note E, F flat, I'm just everything stays the same again in this voicing except the melody notes. I'm going to raise my E flat up to the note E. There it is, I get this. So those two notes side by side those two melody notes E flat and F flat. They are. Now you may have noticed I said the note B, I'm using the note B in my voicings, you might be asking Wait a minute, where does the note B come from? Because that note is not found in the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale. So how am I getting away with using the note B? Well, here's how I'm doing it. The probably the most common diminished scale that jazz musicians use is what's called the whole half diminished scale. And this is a symmetrical scale because it's moving in alternating whole steps and half steps. So if I started on C, I'd go a whole step D, half step, the E flat, whole step, half step, the G flat whole step, a flat half step, a whole step to the note. So you get this. First is the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale, which sounds like this. Personally, I like the seventh motor, the harmonic minor scale better, I like the sound, I think it sounds more diminished. But the note be coming from that symmetrical, whole half's half step, the mini scale, I'm going to borrow that B from that scale to help construct my voicings. So that is where the B is coming from. I'm stealing it from the whole half the mini scale to use within my diminished voicings. Okay, so now let's bring the ensemble back end and let's listen to the third. And let's listen to the fourth of the diminished scale, the seventh mode of the harmonic minor. Let's listen to them side by side harmonized. Alright, so let's check it out. See what we think. Here we go.
I love it. You know I will, I will say this. The more you play these voicings, they may be a little foreign to the IRS right and sound a little odd to the IRS especially, you know, when we practicing these voicings Keep in mind, we're practicing them out of context in the sense that these voicings aren't coming from anywhere and they're not going anywhere. In other words, there's not a chord being played prior to the diminished chord. And there's not a chord being played after the diminished chord. So in that regard, they're not in context when I when we bring the ensemble in, and I placed them in a musical context. What I mean by that is, we're placing them within an kind of an ensemble setting so we can hear what they sound like with a musical backdrop. So these shapes, the sounds may be a little foreign to the ears initially, once you get your hands on them, once your ears get acclimated to them, and once you begin using them, you will fall in love with them. So we're gonna continue to march on so our next two notes, we're gonna pair up our fifth and our six of the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale. So that means our melody note the fifth is going to be our G flat. So in my left hand, I'm going to play the note a. I'm going to play the note E flat. In my right hand I'm going to play a flat, D flat and then My Melody note G flat. So here it is. Love it. Now the sixth note of the harmonic minor seventh mode, the harmonic minor scale is the node A flat. So that's going to be my my top note my a flat is My Melody. So in my left hand, I am going to play the note D flat G flat, and in my right hand, C flat or the note B, there's my B again, the note f flat or the note E. And my melody note, the G flat. I mean, I'm sorry, the a flat. So here's what it sounds like. I'm going to put those two voicings side by side, the fifth in the melody, my G flat, and my six in the melody my a flat. Again, G flat and the melody a flat. Wow, great sounds. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's place this into musical context. Again, I'm going to play the voicing side by side, keep it simple at first, then begin to add rhythmic variation, kind of develop some rhythmic vocabulary. So again, let's bring the ensemble and let's see what we think. Let's check it out. Here we go.
Pretty cool, right? I told you, you're gonna hear diminish like you've never heard many's before. Alright, now, we're going to group together, we're going to pair together our sixth and the seventh of the diminished sound using the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale. So our six that we just played is the note a flat. So again, in my left hand, I got my D flat, D flat, my C flat are the note B, my f flat, or E, and G flat, a flat as My Melody. There's my six. Everything remains the same. Once again, the entire voicing remains the same, with the exception being the melody note up on top instead of a flat, we're going to go to the seventh, which is the note a limited to voicing side by side the a flat the six on top. And now the A or the seventh on top. Again, a flat.
So as we have been doing we're going to place those two voicings those two shapes into a musical context or place them side by side. Do nothing fancy at first. And then after get comfortable moving back and forth from one shape to the other. I'm going to begin adding some rhythmic variation, develop a little rhythmic vocabulary using these two voicings these two harmonic shapes extracted from the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale to handle the diminished the sound. So here we go. Let's check it out. See what we think.
We have now completed harm harmonization of the seventh motor the harmonic minor scale which produces the diminished sound. So for remember at the beginning here, the scale bias
Now that exact same scale we have harmonized and it sounds like this.
Listen that again.
Okay, we're gonna do a little bit more of that a little later in the podcast episode want to do an exercise where you just play ascending and descending scale motion, but I wanted you to hear that right now. So so far we've taken the mode the scale, and we've harmonized that we broke it apart into pairs to know pairs. Those two nodes represent what scale motion. So now we're gonna go back through the process again, but we're going to add an additional note. So now we're going to work in three-note groupings. Because now by adding the third note, not only do I have scale motion, but now I have the possibility to move around with those shapes using arpeggio motion. And again, what are the two types of motion that we have in music melodic motion, we have scale, motion, and arpeggio motion. That's it. So these exercises are not only designed to minimize movement, but these exercises are designed to incorporate both scale and arpeggio motion while you're learning these harm harmonic shapes these voicings This is effective and efficient practicing. So now what I want to do is go back to the root, I want to put the root in the second and the third together. So we're going to use those three voicings I have my scale motion, I have arpeggio motion, moving from the root to the third, or from the third to the root. So we're going to bring on some blowback and then I'm going to practice playing those three voicings the root, the second and third is My Melody up on top, and add a little rhythmic variation to it and see what I come up with a little rhythm. vocabulary. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.
Pretty amazing, right? You start just the addition of one more voicing, so that we have the arpeggio motion to play around with. All of a sudden, things even start sounding much more realistic, much more musical, right? Because we have both scale and arpeggio motion, how fun. So now, I'm going to move and have my entry point be the third. And I'm going to group the third, the fourth, and the fifth together. My voicings right with the third is the melody the fourth as the melody and the fifth as the melody. So I want to bring those three voices together. And again, drop them into a musical context. And once again, I'm going to play around with them rhythmically, nothing fancy but add some rhythmic variation to help develop some rhythmic vocabulary while at the same time getting familiar with and getting comfortable with these shapes and sounds and moving in between them. So let's bring the ensemble back in and let's listen to the third, the fourth and the fifth group together. And let's see what I can come up with. And let's see what we think. Let's check it out. Here we go.
Not bad at all. Not bad at all. So we're gonna continue to march right through the sound. So now we're going to take our fifth, our sixth and our seventh, we're going to group that, that use that three note grouping, to practice our shapes to practice our two handed contemporary voicings, with the fifth as the melody, the sixth as the melody and the seventh as the melody. And once again, I'm going to get comfortable moving from one shape to the next shape, get comfortable moving and scale motion and get comfortable moving, utilizing arpeggio motion, from the fifth to the seventh, and from the seventh back down to the fifth. Again, I don't want to try to do anything too fancy, right? I'm not trying to be fancy schmancy. I'm just trying to use these shapes, and see what I can unveil with regards to rhythmic ideas. While I'm getting comfortable with these two handed voicings under my hands, and my ears getting comfortable with these new diminished sounds. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back. And let's listen to the fifth, the sixth and the seventh group together. Let's see what we think let's see what we can come up with. Here we go check it out.
Now we have thoroughly explored the lower half of the sound and what I mean when I say the lower half of the sound, I'm talking from the root to the seventh. Now we start incorporating the upper extensions, the upper extensions of the sound, the ninth, the 11, the 13. So now our entry points going to be the seventh, my I'm going to utilize the seventh, the eighth, the octave, right the root, and the ninth, that the seventh, eighth and ninth become my three note grouping. And once again, I'm going to get comfortable just moving those harmonic shapes those voicings, moving them around using scale motion, and using arpeggio motion from the seventh to the ninth and from the ninth to the seventh. And I want to see what I can come up with rhythmically a little rhythmic variation. So let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out and see what we think. Let's see what we think of that night. Here we go.
I'll tell you what I think of that knife. I love the knife, but again, I love all the upper extensions. I love the ninth I love the 11th and the 13th. So now let's bring The 11th then. So now we're going to utilize our ninth as our entry point. So we're going to use the ninth, the 10th, which is the third, and the 11th. So we're gonna bring those three notes in as our melody notes, we're gonna harmonize those using the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale to produce the diminished sound. And I'm going to get comfortable moving and scale motion from the ninth to the 10th, to the 11th, and back down. And I'm going to get used to moving in arpeggio motion from the ninth to the 11th, or from the 11th to the ninth. So I'm going to just try to create some rhythmic variation develops a little rhythmic vocabulary, once again, at the same time that I'm getting comfortable with, and my ears are getting familiar with the sounds of the diminished sound using the seventh motor, the harmonic minor scale. So here we go, the ninth, the 10th, and the 11th, two-handed contemporary voicings, let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
Love it, absolutely love it. So now let's do the exact same thing, but make our entry point the 11th. Right, so we're going to move from the 11th to the 12th, which is the fifth to the 13th to the to the upper extension of the sound. So 11th to 12th to the 13th. Again, I'm going to place those three voicings those two-handed contemporary voicings side by side. And then I'm going to begin playing around with them rhythmically using scale motion, from the 11th through the 13th, from the 13th, back to the 11th, and then arpeggio motion from the 11th, up to the 13th and the 13th back to the 11th. So again, I'm not going to try to do anything fancy, I'm just going to try to create some rhythmic variation develop a little rhythmic vocabulary, as I get used to these voicings these contemporary two-handed voicings using the 11th, the 12th and the 13th. The diminished sound. Wow, how cool. Let's do it. Let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
Not too shabby, right. So so far, check out what we've done. We've used two-note groupings to explore the diminished sound using the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale. We have used those two-note groupings to explore the sound from the root to the seventh. And we use three-note groupings to explore to diminish sound that is produced by the seventh mode or the harmonic minor scale. We use three-note groupings to explore the sound from the root through the upper extensions to the 13th of the sound. That's a pretty thorough investigation, an exploration of the sound would you What would you say? And we did that same approach quite honestly I utilize the same approach with all of the scales with the major dominant minor and half the many scales as well. I just find this to be a very effective and a very efficient way to get those shapes and those sounds under our hands and in our ears. And those shape those two-note groupings, and three-note groupings provide us with the scale motion, and the arpeggio motion that is found in music. So after you've done due diligence, and you've practiced, the diminished sound, the harmonization of the diminished scale, after you've practiced and you feel comfortable with these two note groupings, and these three-note groupings, then it's kind of time to have a little bit of fun and test how well you can easily move from one shape to the, to the next shape, without any difficulty. So what I like to do is test my skills by first playing the entire scale from the root to the seventh of the sound, and then from the seventh back down. So what I want to do right now is just demonstrate that I want to bring the ensemble back in and I want to play the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale, the diminished sound harmonized using scale motion from the root, the seventh ascending, and then from the seventh to the root descending. So you're going to hear me start off first using whole notes than half notes, and then quarter notes right to keep shrinking the rhythmic value. So I have to move from one voice into the next voicing at a quicker pace. Sounds like fun. Let's do that. So let's bring the ensemble back and let's check it out. Scale motion seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale, which produces the diminished sound harmonized. Let's check it out scale motion ascending and descending. Here we go.
Like I said, that will test your skills, right how comfortable you are with these shapes with these voicings harmonizing the diminished scale. So after I do that, I like to up the ante a little bit and now move in arpeggio motion from the root all the way to the 13th of the sound, and from the 13th all the way descending back down to the root. And again, I'm going to do the same thing start off using whole notes move to move to half notes, move to quarter notes, right, just shorten the gap between each of the voicings so let's bring the ensemble back end. And let's check it out. Let's check out the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale that produces the diminished chord to diminish sound harmonized using arpeggio, ascending and descending arpeggio motion from the root to the 13th. Wow, let's do this. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
What journey it has been. This five podcast episode series has unpacked a ton of information in each and every podcast episode. Today was certainly no exception. harmonize the mini scales, as are the harmonized major dominant minor and half diminished scales are without doubt, essential jazz piano skill that will require much thought, intense study and of course relentless practice. But as I have mentioned previously, all of the voicings with the exception of a couple of diminished shapes, use the harmonized use that I use to harmonize the scales of the primary sounds of music or scales and voicings that you already know and have under your fingers if you have listened to and practice the primary major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished voicings, and once again, be sure to listen to the podcast series that I did to introduce you to these amazing shapes and sounds. Starting with the November 10 2020 episode, dealing with the primary major voicings I also want to encourage you to map out these voicings on paper use the podcast packets, the illustrations and the lead sheets to guide you. The illustrations include a paper practice template that you can use over and over again for mapping out the harmonization of the 12 diminished scales use them they're invaluable and most of all, I mentioned it earlier in the podcast episode I'm going to mention it again here right now be patient. This is a big-time jazz panel skill that will take some time to digest both mentally and physically. structure your physical practice after the plane demonstrations that I just modeled for you in this podcast episode. And you will begin to see you will begin to feel you will begin to hear your musical progress. Well, I hope you found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the harmonization of diminished scales to be insightful and of course beneficial don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the harmonization of the diminished scale in greater detail, and to answer any question that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz piano skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets to play alongs for this podcast lesson, and be sure to use the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz panel skills community get involved, contribute to the various forms and make some new jazz piano friends always, always a great thing to do. And as always, you can reach me by phone at 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills calm or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the harmonization of diminished scales. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano