This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores Harmonized Half Diminished Scales using Contemporary Two-Handed Voicings. The Half Diminished Scale is harmonized using scale motion (Locrian Mode) from the root to the 7th and arpeggio motion from the root to the 13th. A jazz piano lesson taught by professional jazz pianist and educator Dr. Bob Lawrence.
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Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play Harmonized Half Diminished Scales. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
The art of Harmonized Half Diminished Scales
How to Harmonize Half Diminished Scales using Contemporary Two-Handed Voicings
Harmonized Half 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're going to discover harmonized half diminished scales. You're going to learn how to harmonize half diminished scales using contemporary two handed voicings, and you are going to play harmonized half diminished scales, from the root, through the seventh the sound.
So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner, an intermediate player, an advanced player, or even if you are a seasoned professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring the harmonization of half diminished scales to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills if you are a new jazz piano skills podcast listener, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz panel skills member. Visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials and services that are available for you to use. For example, as a jazz piano skills member, you have full access complete access to all of the educational podcast packets that I develop, and produce and publish for each weekly podcast episode, the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play alongs invaluable practice and study tools. As a jazz piano skills member you also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is a loaded curriculum with comprehensive courses using a self paced format educational talks, interactive media, video video demonstrations play alongs and more. You also, in addition to all that you also as a jazz piano skills member have access to the online weekly master classes which are, in essence a one hour online lesson with me each and every week. And as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to the private jazz piano skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast specific forums, core specific forums, and of course, General jazz piano forums as well. You can enjoy those every single day of every single week. And last but certainly not least, you have unlimited private, personal and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Again, visit jazz piano skills comm to learn more about all of the educational opportunities, and how to easily activate your membership. There are now three different membership plans to choose from. So check it out. If you have any questions, please let me know I'm always happy to help you in any way that I can. I mentioned it last week, and I want to take a second to remind everyone that the jazz piano skills blog is up and going strong, so be sure to check it out as well. I take a little time at the end of each week to jot down my final thoughts about the jazz piano skill explored in the podcast episode. It's simply a nice way to provide you with some additional insight address any aspects about the jazz piano skill that I may have forgotten to mention during the podcast episode, and to provide you with some final words of encouragement and inspiration as well. So be sure to take a few minutes to check out the new jazz piano skills blog. You will find the blog link in the menu bar running across the top of the jazz piano skills podcast page. Or you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see an entire blog section. So again, check it out and let me know what you think. I'd love to love to hear your thoughts and ideas as well. Okay, let's discover learning play jazz piano. Let's discover learn and play harmonized half diminished scales. I brought this up in the previous podcast episode. Dealing with the harmonized major dominant and minor scales. And I want to mention it again today. When we talk about any scale, any scale, our minds immediately think of a sequential line of notes played 1234 octaves in both hands are sending in decent. And why wouldn't we think this way right? After all this, this imagery that we have, when discussing scales, after all, this is precisely how scales are taught 99% of the time, if not 100% of the time. And of course, the opposite is true to that. When we talk about any scale our minds never ever think of the scale as being played harmonically.
And why? Well, because girls are never ever taught harmonically. Therefore, we never think of scales being played in this manner. And this is very unfortunate, especially for jazz pianos. Because we need to be able to approach melodies, scales, melodies, harmonically, we need to be able to comp melodically. And how do we develop this jazz piano skill? We do so by practicing scales harmonized. And why do we have to invest the time practicing scales harmonized. Because, as you've heard me say many times, our hands and our ears will never, ever, ever go where they have never ever, ever been. It's just that simple. Now, I brought this up as well. And of course, it's important to state it again. Today, there is more than one way to approach the harmonization of scales. But I am sharing with you how I like to approach harmonizing scales, using two handed contemporary voicings and contemporary and that the voicings are constructed, using primarily intervals of a fourth, rather than the traditional interval of a third. And if you're unfamiliar with corto voicings, then I would suggest checking out an entire podcast series that I did on the shapes and sounds starting back in November 10 last year 2020 starting with the primary major voicings and you can also check out especially if you are a jazz piano skills member you have access to the jazz piano skills curriculum, the jazz piano skills courses, so be sure to check out courses 21 through 26 that deals specifically with contemporary voicings, you can watch video demonstrations of me playing these major dominant minor half diminished, diminished shapes and sounds these quarter voicings in all 12 keys. Now, these contemporary voicings quartal or fourth e voicings, are my go to voicings for harmonizing melodies and for comping behind instrumentalist and vocalist. I'm going to also share with you a way to methodically and effectively and efficiently practice these shapes and sounds, these voicings these essential jazz piano skills. So that again, 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 half diminished voicings, one for each note of the half diminished scale. Number two, I am going to present 10 exercises that focus on compact scale and arpeggio motion to minimize linear movement and maximize your musical growth. 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 a total of 12 exercises today. Number four, I will be constructing all of my voicings today, based on the C half diminished locrian mode and Number five. I will be playing all demonstrations today all exercises using a temple of 140. And as always, I highly recommend using slower tempos. Whenever you begin to physically explore a new jazz piano skill, tempos, like 6575 85, right? Keep it slow and keep it manageable.
This jazz piano skills lesson, as were the podcast episodes, dealing with the harmonization of the major dominant and minor scales is a biggie. It will forever change how you think about scales, it will forever change how you play scales, and 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 podcast packets, the illustrations and the lead sheets. You have access to all of the podcast packets and you should be using them you should absolutely be using them while listening to this podcast episode. And of course, when practicing at the piano. If you're listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio Pandora, on and on and on, then be sure to go to the jazz piano skills podcast.com website to download the podcast packets, you will find the download links in the show notes. So take a moment right now to print and get those podcast packets, illustrations and lead sheets in front of you. One final note before we dig in, but it's an extremely important note. If you're thinking that jazz piano skills that I just outlined in today's agenda, that we are about to discover, learn and play are in some ways or even if they are all the way 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 or skills are over our heads when they are first introduced us. And that is precisely the first step we need to take. In order to improve our musicianship. Our musical growth begins upstairs mentally, before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So relax. Listen to this podcast lesson now to discover and learn. The play will come in time. Okay, so as I mentioned earlier, today, I'm going to be using the C half diminished scale, the C half diminished locrian mode locrian scale, the notes are C, D flat, E flat, F, G flat, a flat, B flat. All right, so it's the seventh mode of the D flat major scale, I want to say that again, C half diminished, is the seventh mode of the D flat major scale. So one of the ways I like to think about this, when I'm doing have too many scales are the locrian mode. If I'm doing C, I play the note C and now I'm gonna play the D flat major scale on top of that C.
So if I was doing the F lo grande f half diminished, I would play the note F and then the G flat major scale.
I hope that helps, right, that's just a little crutch, a little way to get your hands on the mode as quickly as possible. So my first voicing, we're going to pretend that C is My Melody note. So my melody note is going to sit on top of my voicing. So on my left hand I'm going to begin with the notes F and B flat. In my right hand, E flat, a flat, and C. Again C is My Melody note. So that voicing in its entirety when I played all together, C half diminished, was C as My Melody. Now, the very next note in the scale, my second is D flat so I don't have to move very far in order to play That melody note that D flat, harmonized. In fact, I play the exact same shape F and B flat in my left hand, E flat, a flat. And now I raise my C one half step to D flat. So now I get this. So there's c half diminished with D flat, the second as my mom melody note. So now those two voicings side by side, C is my reality. Flat as my ability, again, C is My Melody flat as My Melody. So I want to bring the ensemble and now I'm going to place those two voicings into a musical context into a musical setting. And I'm going to start off by just playing those shapes, right, I'm not going to do anything fancy, I'm going to play shape one, with C as my melody, shape two with D flat as My Melody. Then once I'm comfortable with those two shapes, I will begin to add some rhythmic variation, utilizing just those two voicings to get a number one comfortable moving back and forth between the two shapes. And to to develop some rhythmic vocabulary using both of those voicings. So let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out. And then we can talk about it. Here we go.
Pretty cool, right? What a nice sound, C half diminished was C as my melody, C half diminished with the flat as My Melody. Now, I want to remind, remind you that I use five note shapes, I always play to the left, I play three in the right thing you can, you can arrange that however you'd like if you want to put three in the left and to the right, help yourself. Right. Again, as I mentioned earlier, there are several ways to go about voicing. But for me what works well, for me, I think always in five note structures to the left, three in the right. And you will see that I follow that format all the way through this entire sound this entire scale, as I did with the major dominant in minor scales and harmonization. So now let's move on to the next set of notes, we are going to now harmonize the third and the fourth of the scale. So my third is E flat. So e flats, My Melody is going to set up on top, in my left hand, I'm going to have the note G flat and C and my right hand F, B flat and E flat. E flat is My Melody. So now here it is. The very next note in the scale or in the mode is the note F. So f is My Melody note. In my left hand I'm going to have the notes B flat and E flat in my right hand, a flat, D flat, and F. Again f sits up on top because it's my melody. So let's hear this. Nice. Let's put them side by side. E flat is My Melody. f as My Melody. One more time, E flat is my melody and F as My Melody. Both are c half diminished voicings with different melody notes. So let's bring the ensemble back in let's drop both of these voicings into a musical context into a musical setting. And once again, I'm going to start off very simply right just Play shape one with the third as melody, shape two with the fourth as melody. Once I'm comfortable with both of those shapes, you will see that I, you will hear that I begin to add rhythmic variation to add some interest, right and again to help start developing some rhythmic vocabulary. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
Very cool. So, so far, we have harmonize the route the second, third, now before now we move on to harmonizing the fifth and the six. So the fifth is the note, G flat, right. And again, all of these notes are coming from where the mode, the half diminished locrian mode, every note in my voicing is found within that mode. So the fifth has G flat as My Melody which is going to sit up on top, in my left hand, I'm going to play the notes B flat and E flat. And then my right hand a flat, D flat and G flat My Melody up on top. So here's what it sounds like. Very nice. Now, the next note, the six is the note a flat in my left hand, I want to play the notes see my right hand, B flat, E flat and a flat amount of the amount. Here's what it sounds like. So my fifth as the melody, the G flat and my six or my a flat again.
Wow. Love it. So as we did with the root and the second, and with the third and the fourth, we're gonna do with the fifth and six. Were to bring the ensemble and we're gonna place both of these voicings into a musical context into a musical setting. I want to start off by just playing each shape side by side. Once I get comfortable with each shape each voicing, then I'm going to be given adding some rhythmic variation, number one to continually get comfortable with both of those shapes. And then also to help begin developing some rhythmic vocabulary when I am comping or playing behind an instrumentalist or vocalist, right. So let's check it out. Let's bring the ensemble and let's see what we think. Here we go.
Very nice. One thing I do want to mention C to D flat, E flat, the F, G flat, the a flat, and we're about to do a flat to B flat. All of these pairs, the route to the second, third to the fourth, the fifth is six, and now the six to the seventh. All of these pairs represent what type of motion. They represent scale motion. So I just want to bring that up, because that's what we are practicing right now. Yes, we are harmonizing each note of the C half diminished locrian mode. But we're doing so in pairs. So that we are creating at the same time that we are learning the voicing, we are creating scale motion. Okay, and we're a little later on in this episode, we're going to create arpeggio motion. But for now scale motion, and we have the six that we're going to now pair up with the seventh. So we returned to our a flat as our melody. So in our left hand, we have C and F. In the right hand, I have B flat, E flat and a flat. So the last note of the mode, the last note of the scale is the note B flat which will be our melody in my left hand, I'm going to play E flat and a flat, my right hand, D flat, G flat, and my B flat up on top as My Melody. So both of those voicings flat on top, B flat. Let's do it again. A flat earth six on top, B flat with a seven one. Very nice. So once again, we're gonna bring the ensemble back in, we're gonna place both of these voicings both of these shapes into a musical context. I'm going to start off by just playing each voicing side by side, then I will begin to add rhythmic variation, right to help discover some rhythmic vocabulary. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's check it out and see what we think.
Very nice. So now we have harmonized the entire c half diminished scale or the locrian mode. So here it is.
Right, same thing as this
all scale motion, right. But now we're going to actually create some three note groupings. So we're going to go back and we're going to now put the root in the second and the third together. And in doing so, we have scale motion from the root to the second to the third. But I now can incorporate arpeggio motion from the root to the third, or from the third back down to the root. So I have both types of motion that exists in music. There are only two types of melodic motion, scale motion, and arpeggio motion. Every single melody ever written, ever composed, ever improvised, can be analyzed and dissected, as either using scale motion or arpeggio motion throughout the entire Composition or improvise solo. And there's only two directions that that melodic line using scale motion arpeggio motion can travel up or down. These are musical facts. So when I practice, I always like to incorporate musical facts into my practicing. So I like to practice any jazz piano skill in such a way that I am incorporating musical facts such as scale and arpeggio motion, ascending and descending. So now we're going to do just that, we're going to have the root, the second and the third, I'm going to group them together. And I'm going to bring the ensemble in and I'm going to experiment with those three voicings so that I can now begin incorporating scale and arpeggio motion with my rhythmic variation in developing my rhythmic vocabulary. So let's bring the ensemble in now. And let's see what we think when we incorporate arpeggio motion into our plan. Here we go. Check it out.
Pretty darn cool indeed. All right. So now you can see where I'm going with this, right? If we've grouped the root, second and third together, now let's do the exact same thing. But let's make our third our entry point. So now we're going to group the third, the fourth and the fifth voicings together just like we did with the root, second and third, we're going to bring the ensemble back and we're going to drop these three voicings into a musical context. But now I can play scale motion, and I can incorporate arpeggio motion as I experiment with these shapes. And this half diminished sound. Alright, so let's check this out and see what we think. Here we go.
I love it. What a great way to practice, right? practice these voicings using pairs. And then practice these voicings using three note groupings. You're what you're doing is intentionally working scale motion, and arpeggio motion into your practicing as you're developing and getting comfortable with these shapes. And these sounds very what I call smart practice. It's efficient, it's effective, and it incorporates and utilizes musical fact it's based on musical fact. You can't do any better than that. So now let's move on to three more grouping of three more shapes and voicings. So we have the fifth, the sixth and the seventh, our entry point is going to be our fifth. We're gonna incorporate the sixth and the seventh again, we have our scale motion moving from the fifth to the sixth to seventh and we have arpeggio motion, jumping from the fifth to the seventh, and descending from the seventh down to the fifth jumping back down to the fifth so you know the routine right let's bring the ensemble and let's play Round with these three shapes these three voicings and add some rhythmic variation and see what rhythmic vocabulary we can discover, learn and play. So here we go. Let's check it out.
Nice. But now it starts to get fun. Now it gets really fun because now we're going to start getting into the upper extensions of the sound, because we're going to group the seventh, eighth, and the ninth together, the seventh, eighth, and ninth. So once again, we have our scale motion between those three, voicings the seventh, eighth and ninth, and we have our arpeggio motion from the seventh up to the ninth, and from the ninth back down to the seventh. But when we get into these upper extensions, wow, the real beauty of the sound starts to become illuminated. So I can't wait. Let's let's drop these three shapes into a musical context, these three voicings and see what we think so let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's check it out.
What I tell you pretty cool, pretty cool indeed. So I just want to mention before we go on to the remaining three voicing groupings I'm playing today everything at 140. Right. And I mentioned earlier in the podcast episode, when practicing, begin at slower tempos, right, if you have to take it down to 55 great 6575 85. Keep your temples comfortable and keep your temples manageable, especially as you're working out the logistics of these shapes and these sounds these voicings getting familiar with the mode, getting familiar with the notes within the mode. getting familiar with the quarter voicings right, there's a lot going on. So keep your tempos very comfortable. When you're starting to put all this together. Do not play at 140. Because even 140, as I like to say is a snappy tempo. That's a pretty snappy tempo. So keep it comfortable, keep it manageable. Okay, so now, let's continue on. Now our entry point is going to be the ninth. So now we're moving from the ninth to the 10th, which is the third to the 11th. So scale motion from the ninth to the 10th to the 11th and arpeggio motion from the ninth up to the 11th and from the 11th back down to the knife. How fun is this going to be? Total upper extensions of the sound. So let's bring our ensemble back in let's drop these voicings into a musical context. And let's see what we think. Here we go check it out.
I absolutely love these sounds right even the half, you don't have to manage to have them any sound can be kind of an acquired taste, quite honestly. So if you're hearing some stuff that just doesn't sound quite right or maybe a little tense or a little harsh to the ears know that the half the mini sound takes a little getting used to once you do get used to it, you absolutely will love it. And also keep in mind that we are playing these voicings, you know, I always say let's drop it into a musical context, which we are but keep in mind, kind of, because we're not moving from one chord to another chord to another chord to another chord, there's not a progression here, right, we're just sitting on that half diminished. So even though we're dropping it into a musical context, it's still stationary. It's not coming from anywhere, and it's not going anywhere. Once you start to hear sounds with in a progression, they really come to life. But there is no better way to practice these shapes and these sounds, then to do so, by isolating them, it still is the most effective, and the most, the most efficient way to go about acquiring and mastering this jazz piano skill. So now on to our last grouping, our entry points going to be the 11th of the sound. So we're going to go from the 11th to the 12th, which is the fifth to the 13th. Right again, all upper extensions, scale motion from the 11th to the 12th to the 13th and of course arpeggio motion from the 11th jumping up to the 13th or from the 13th jumping back down to the 11th. How cool. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's drop these shapes and sounds into a musical context. And let's see what we think Here we go.
Wow, we have covered the entire spectrum here now right, we have looked at these voicings utilizing scale motion. And by incorporating our three note groupings, we have now utilized arpeggio motion from the root all the way up to 13, which sounds like this
scale motion arpeggio motion harmonized using the half diminished scale or the half diminished mode. So for the final two exercises, the final two demonstrations I want to do just that I want to play practice playing the sound first, using scale motion entirely from the root, the seventh, ascending and descending. And you're gonna hear me You're gonna hear me play the scale starting off using you know, whole notes, then half notes and quarter notes right you're gonna, again you're going to hear me use different rhythmic durations here. And again, I'm just challenging myself to see how well I know these voicings and can move from the scale from the bottom of the scale from The route to the top to the seventh and back down. And notice I'm starting with these last two exercises where I'm doing scale motion, and arpeggio, pure scale motion and pure arpeggio motion. I'm doing these two exercises last, I started with pairs, and then three note groupings. Now finally putting it all together using scale and arpeggio motion. So let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's first look at scale motion from the root to seventh, and from the seventh back down to the root. Okay, here we go. Let's check it out.
Wow, big time stuff, right, to be able to move through the entire mode, the entire scale from the roots and seventh ascending and descending, harmonized, not an easy task at all. And it certainly doesn't get any easier when you actually do the same thing and use our pitch emotion, where you're thinking of the sound traveling from the root to the 13th and back down. And so that's what I want to demonstrate right now. So I want to bring the ensemble back in. And I want to play these voicings will harmonize the half diminished mode, the half diminished scale, using arpeggio motion from the root to 13th, ascending and then descending from the 13th back down to the root. And I'm going to do the same thing that I did with the scale start off with an extended rhythmic value. And then I'm going to shorten that rhythmic value. Okay, so here we go. Let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
Another typical day at jazz piano skills, has always we unpack a ton of information. And each and every podcast episode in each and every jazz piano lesson, and today was certainly no exception. harmonized half diminished scales, as are the harmonized major dominant minor scales that we covered the last few weeks as well, are without doubt. Without doubt, they are all an essential jazz piano skill that will require much thought, intense study and of course, relentless practice. But as I've mentioned before, here's the cool thing. All of these voicings that I use to harmonize that have diminished scales are 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 check out 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 include urge you to map out these voicings on paper I call this paper practice and use the podcast packets, the illustrations and the lead sheets to guide you in this effort. The illustrations include a paper practice template that you can use for mapping out the harmonization of all 12 half diminished scales. So you jazz panel skills members, download the illustrations the podcast packets and use them when practicing it most of all, I want you to be patient. As I've mentioned, this is a big time jazz piano skill that will take time to digest both mentally and physically. structure your physical practice after the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you today in this podcast episode, start with the pair's go to three note groupings and then finally, get to play in the entire scale and the entire heart arpeggio harmonize, right. So use model you're practicing after the demonstrations that I played for you today. If you do that, you will begin to see you will begin to feel you will begin to hear your progress I guarantee it. Well I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcasts lesson exploring the harmonization of half 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 half diminished scale in greater detail and to answer any questions 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 episode, and be sure to use the jazz piano skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community get involved, contribute to the various forums and make some new jazz piano friends always a fantastic thing to do. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my office extension is 211 by email Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills calm that is 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 the half diminished scales. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano