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Feb. 9, 2021

Primary Diminished Voicings

This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores the primary contemporary two-handed jazz piano voicings for the diminished chord.

Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!

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 discoverlearnplay Primary Diminished Voicings. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:

Primary Two-Handed Diminished Voicings
How to construct two Primary Two-Handed Diminished Voicings
Primary Two-Handed Diminished Voicings using 5 Harmonic Technique Approaches

For maximum musical growth, be sure to use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while studying and practicing Primary Diminished Voicings.

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Episode Outline
Discover, Learn, Play
Invite to Join JazzPianoSkills
Exploration of Jazz Piano Skills
Closing Comments

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Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music



Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. I want to begin today with a huge thank you to all of you, the listeners of jazz piano skills. I have gotten to know many of you since the launch of jazz piano skills back in 2019. And it has simply been an overwhelming affirmation of what I was in fatica Lee told by one of my most influential teachers, and he told me time and time again, I would cost not remind me that the greatest thing about music is the people you meet through it. And he was without doubt 100% spot on. I can't even begin to tell you what a blessing it has been to get to know many of you throughout the past year. I am most grateful for your kindness and willingness to provide me with constant and consistent and constructive feedback on how to continually improve jazz piano skills. To make it the best jazz podcast on the market. Any better educational experience for all listeners, one of the most frequent suggestions I receive each month is to somehow come up with a way to shorten the promotion of the various educational resources available for jazz piano skills members through the jazz piano skills website. Now, obviously, I am very proud of the work being done through jazz piano skills. And I want to make sure everyone is aware of the tremendous educational resources that are constantly being developed and are available for you to use for maximizing your musical growth. But on the other hand, I get it. I like you want more time being spent discussing jazz piano skills, each podcast episode and less time on promotion. So I think it's a great suggestion that needs to be implemented right away. So starting today, I have reformatted the jazz panel skills podcast to do just that. Less promotion, and more education. So here's how it's going to work moving forward. I am going to take about a minute, literally a minute at the beginning of each jazz panel skills podcast episode, to invite everyone to check out the jazz panel skills website to learn more about the available educational resources, the podcast packets, the interactive courses, which by the way, are being completely revamped, and being prepped for a relaunch later this month. The community forums, the online master classes and professional support. That's it. After the brief personal invite to visit jazz piano skills. It's on to discover learn and play jazz piano. short, sweet to the point and then on with the show. So that's it. Visit jazz piano to check out all the educational resources available to help maximize your musical growth. If you have any questions, let me know. Well today we wrap up the series on primary voicings. We have explored the primary minor voicings October 13 2020, the primary major voicings November 10 2020, the primary dominant voice since December 10 2020. The primary half diminished voice scenes January 12 2021, just last month, and now today, February 9 2021. We wrap things up with the primary diminished voicings. So today you are going to discover the primary two handed diminished voicings. You're going to learn how to construct two primary two handed diminished voicings and you are going to play Primary two handed voicings using five harmonic technique approaches. So regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, whether you're a beginner and intermediate play or an advanced player, or even if you are an experienced professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring the primary two handed diminished voicings to be very beneficial. This episode is so very important. Because let's face it, most people do not have the slightest idea, the slightest clue on how to begin voicing diminished chords. In fact, most aspiring jazz pianist quite honestly, I even hear many professional jazz pianist simply play diminished chords using a basic block style voicing approach that uses the root third, fifth and seven other diminished chord, straight minor thirds, right. There's your classic diminished voicing. Now, this is fine right this is a fine voicing. However, if you are using contemporary style shells, and two handed voicing structures that use primarily intervals of a fourth for all of your other sounds major dominant minor, half the managed then using the traditional sequence of minor thirds for the diminished chord, the root third fifth seven can sound quite out of place and honestly a little hot. So today, I want to devote time to unpacking an approach to voicing diminished chords that uses a contemporary a contemporary approach, utilizing chordal shapes, or as I like to call them for fee voicings. Now all voicings, begin with a scale with a mode. Let me say that again all voicings begin with a scale or mode. In other words, we have to know the pool of notes that we can draw from to construct our voicing. And as quick side note, the term voicings simply refers to the notes we use the notes we select. And the way we approach ordering or arranging them to produce a desired sound. voicing has nothing to do with our physical voices. It in no way refers to singing. I just want to make that clear just in case the term voicing is new to you. Okay, so all voicings begin with a scale or with a mode. So with that being the case, we need to know what scale or what mode produces the diminished chord before we can even begin to voice it. And if you are familiar with the major scale and the major modes, then you know that the one and four chords produced by the major scale are major chords. The two three and six chords produced by the major scale are minor chords. The five chord produced by the major scale is a dominant chord. And the seventh chord produced by the major scale is a half diminished chord. So again, the one in four chords are major. The two, three and six chords are minor. The five chord is dominant, and the seven chord is half diminished. Do you notice what's missing? Yep. There's no diminished chord found in the major scale. Interesting right. So this begs the obvious question. If the diminished chord does not come from a major scale, then what scale does it come from? Well if it does not come from a major scale Then it must come from a minor scale. And indeed it does. The diminished chord is derived from the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale. Now, some of you may be thinking, well, we are starting to get a little too deep into the weeds here. So I think I'm out. As the old expression goes, don't touch that dial. Hang in here with me. And you'll see, it's not as bad as you may initially be thinking. Okay, the first order of business for you to do this week is to construct the 12 harmonic minor scales. And the easiest, quickest way to do this is to simply make a couple of modifications to the major scale. For example, the C major scale is C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. That's it. Now, to convert a major scale into a harmonic minor scale, we are simply going to lower the third and the sixth notes of the major scale. So now we have C, D, E flat, F, G, A flat, and B. That's it. The C harmonic minor scale, C, D, E flat, F, G, A flat B. I mentioned earlier that it is the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale that produces the diminished chord. So the C Harmonic Minor Scale produces the B, diminished chord, B, D, F, and a flat right. Now another way, I like to think about matching a diminished chord with it with its appropriate scale is to play the harmonic minor scale, one half step above the diminished chord you are playing, let me say that again. Play the harmonic minor scale, one half step above the diminished chord you are playing. So the C diminished scale is the D flat Harmonic Minor Scale starting on the note C, right, the C diminished scale, one half step up is the D flat harmonic minor scale, starting on the note C. So we have C, D flat, E flat, a flat, G flat, a flat, and B double flat, or the note a. Sounds like this. Now, both of these approaches may sound a little intimidating upon initial hearing. But I promise, once you spend just a little bit of time thinking through both of these approaches, for determining the diminished chord scale relationship, you will not only begin to easily recognize the diminished harmonic and melodic shapes, you will begin to clearly hear the diminished sound as well. So we now have a CD mini scale to go along with our C diminished chord. So our C diminished chord just using our simple block voicing for right now. C, E flat, G flat and a. Right. Well, now, that core can be played along with our C diminished scale, which is C, D flat, E flat, F flat, G flat, a flat and B double flat, which is a. Okay, that's the D flat harmonic minor scale. Starting on the node C. Let's put the two together. Nice Again, C diminished chord, C diminished scale. Now that we have our diminished scale and chord, we can begin constructing voicings. There are two primary diminished voicings that I want to share with you today that I use all the time. As with all of my two handed voicings, I use a very simple form that is consistent from sound to sound, from major to dominant to minor to half diminished, and to diminish. I mentioned in my previous podcast episodes, dealing with the primary two handed voicings that I want to point it out to you again today, I use a five note voicing format that always consists of two notes in my left hand and three notes in my right hand. The two notes in my left hand are either the third and the seventh of the sound, as is the case with my major dominant and diminished voicings, or the two notes in my left hand are either the root and the fifth of the sound, as is the case with my minor and half diminished voicings. The two primary diminished voicings that I am going to play today and all of the demonstrations are as follows. Are you ready? Here we go. Primary diminished voicing option one in the left hand, and by the way, this is going to be for C diminished. Okay, in my left hand, I have my third and my seventh, or I had the note E flat, and I have the note a. In my right hand, I have my third, which is E flat again, six, which is a flat and the second or the ninth, which is D flat. So those five notes played together sound like this. Now if I put c down in the bass, so we get a real sampling of this diminished sound is diminished voice and it's going to sound like this. That is the hippest diminished voicing that you are ever going to play. Some very nice. So again, in my left hand, the third and the seventh, I have an E flat and I have an A. Now that might be a little odd. At first, when you think about it, the A which is typically we think of a relationship to the key of C as being a six. But not in this case, the a is actually the seventh of the C harmonic minor of the C diminished scale. Okay, so my third in my seventh in the left hand is E flat, and a in my right hand, I have my third. Six and second are my nine. So I have a flat, a flat and D flat. So I'm going to try to put this all together, I want you to hear the bass, I want you to hear the chord the voicing, and I want you to hear the scale. So let me see if I can do this. There we go. Nice. Let's do that again. Wow, I told you very hip diminished voicing. Now, primary diminished voicing option to the primary diminished voicing option two. In my left hand, I'm going to have the seventh and the third. So again, my seventh is the note a. My third is going to be my E flat. In my right hand, I'm going to have the six which is a flat the second or the ninth, which is D flat and the fifth which is G flat. So those five notes played together sound like this nice. Let me put the bass in here, so you get an idea this entire sound. Another very diminished voicing again. Wow. So again in my left hand, the seventh and the third, the A and the E flat, and in my right hand, the six second or the ninth, and the fifth is going to be a flat, D flat, and G flat. So now let me try to put this all together as well the base, the voicing and the scale. So let me try this. Very nice, again. Wow. Again, very, very hip. So there are the two primary diminished voicings, option one and option two that I use all the time. Now your job is to construct the primary diminished voicings options one and two for the remaining 11 diminished chords. Now just a little reminder, if you are a jazz piano skills member, you can download the podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs and have everything we are discussing today. Beautifully laid out for you in all 12 keys check them out at jazz piano Once you have the two primary, two handed diminished voicings constructed, then we have the task of getting them under our fingers and in our ears. To do this, I am going to walk you through five harmonic technique approaches I use when practicing all of my voicings and the five approaches I use are number one, diminished isolation. Number two diminished the pair's number three minor thirds rotation, which produces three different exercises. Number four, whole tone rotation, which develops or rich creates two different exercises. And of course, number five, the circle of fifths. So those five exercises again, the diminished isolation, diminished pairs, minor thirds, rotation, holetown rotation, and circle of fifths. Let's begin with exercise number one, diminished isolation. And just as the title suggests, what I do is I just spend time with each diminished chord all by itself. And the idea here is I want to get comfortable playing both primary diminished voicing options, option one and option two for each diminished chord, so I take the time to isolate each chord. So what you're going to hear me do right now I'm going to be playing at a temple of 144 all the exercises today. Now that's kind of a snappy tempo. And I do that just for the sake of the sake of time with the podcast, right. So I would encourage you to begin at much slower and much more comfy tempos. And of course, you can and I highly recommend that you do explore playing these voicings with different grooves as well but for for today, I'm demonstrating everything again at a tempo of 140 using a traditional straight ahead jazz swing growth. So I'm going to bring the ensemble in and what you're going to hear me do is you're going to hear me spend quite a bit of time with my first primary, diminished voice in option one. Then you're going to hear me shift the primary diminished voice in option two and spend some time there. Right. And as the demonstration goes on, you will see you will Hear how I shorten the gap between those two options. Right, I start moving from option one to option two, with shorter time in between each voice and and what I'm just simply trying to prove to myself that I can with ease, jump from option one, option two and back to option one with no difficulty, okay? Now, even when I am doing these voicing exercises, right, you still want to pay attention to more than just the notes that you're playing. I want to make sure that I'm playing with the proper jazz feel proper articulation, as well, right. And this applies this feel and articulation applies to playing chords and voicings and not just melodic lines, like scales and arpeggios. Right? So, again, when I'm playing these exercises, I want to sound like a jazz pianist, and I want them to be played musically. Okay. So Alright, here we go. This is going to be the C diminished voicings c diminished chord using the two primary, two handed diminished voicings, option one and option two. All right, so here we go. Let's check it out. And then we'll talk about it. Pretty cool right? Now, out of all the exercises that I'm going to present today. This one does isolation one maybe the most important one right spending time with each individual diminished chord and getting comfortable with the two voicing options. shifting from option one or Option two, and back again. Okay. But now let's move on to the second exercise, which I call diminished pairs. So now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to pair up my CD manage voicings, with my C sharp diminished voicings a half step up, right. Now you can you can pair these voicings any way you want any any of the chords with, you know, it doesn't have to be half step, but I recommend starting there. So I'm going to group my seat, I'm going to play my C diminished. And then I'm going to play C sharp diminished, back to C diminished, back to C sharp diminished. And I'm going to do that for both of voicing options. Again, option two would be C diminished and then C sharp diminished back to C diminished. C sharp diminished. Right. So you're going to hear me play this exercise and I'm going to take the same kind of approach where you're going to hear me stay with option one for both c diminished and C sharp diminished for a while and then shift the option to four c diminished and C sharp diminished and then you'll hear me start to mix and match and again shift from one to the other, with shorter gap in between. Okay, this much trickier exercise, because we've now included in our we are including another diminished chord. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's check this out and see what we think. Here we go. Very cool. Not easy, right? Again, spend time with the isolation exercises, before jumping into the other four exercises that I am demonstrating today. But the diminished pairs is a tremendous exercise indeed. And you'll find it to be challenging, and you'll find it to be very rewarding as well. So now, let's move on to the third exercise. And I simply call this a minor third rotation. And the reason being is because we're going to move in minor thirds. So we're going to play a C diminished. Now we're going to move up a minor third to E flat diminished, then we're going to move up a minor third to F sharp diminished. And then we're gonna move another minor third to a diminished that's it moving in minor thirds. So obviously, this is going to get a little more challenging. Now, we've gone from two, we've gone from an isolation, a single chord, to now to diminished pairs. Well, we teamed up with two chords. And now we're going to team up group four chords together for diminished chords. So in this demonstration, we're going to hear me moving from C diminished to E flat, diminished, the F sharp diminished to a diminished, okay? And you're going to hear me do the same exact thing, right, I'm going to play through option one first primary voicing option one, then I'm going to play through primary voicing option two for each diminished chord. And then you're going to hear me put both options together. Right, so I'm going to play option one and two for my C diminished. Option one and two for my E flat or D sharp diminished. And option one and two for my F sharp diminished an options one and two for my a diminished all in time, right. And again, focusing on playing with a nice feel a nice articulation. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's listen to this third exercise. A minor third rotation. Here we go. Let's check it out. Very cool, very challenging, right as we continue to bring more chords into the mix, you really have to know those voicing options. So now we move on to exercise number four. And this is the whole tone rotation exercise. So this is going to produce an exercise that consists of six courts, six courts, right. So you're going to hear me go from C diminished, to D diminished to E diminished, F sharp diminished, G sharp, or a flat diminished, and a sharp or B flat diminished. Okay, C, D, E, F sharp, G sharp, a sharp diminished, six. Okay, and you're gonna hear me do the same thing. You're gonna hear me play through those six diminished chords using option one voicing. Then I'm going to play through those six diminished chords using the option two voicing. And then you're going to hear me play through all six again, incorporating both voicings right, so it's gonna be a lot of fun. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble and in, let's check out the whole tone rotation, utilizing six diminished chords in two primary voicings, Okay, here we go. Let's check it out. Wow, I want to mention again that with the minor third rotation, there are three of those exercises. And with the whole tone rotation that I just played, there are two of those exercises. And all of those exercises are included in your podcast packets, in the illustrations and in the lead sheets. Okay. Alright, so now we have isolated our diminished chords, we have paired up our diminished chords. With half step pairs, we have placed our diminished chords into a minor third rotation, and we've placed our diminished chords into a whole tone rotation. So now, for exercise number five, we are going to do the circle of fifths, which now will include all 12 diminished chords, right so you can see the evolution here, right, we've gone from a single chord to two chords, four chords to six chords and now 12 chords, the circle of fifths. So you're gonna hear me play counterclockwise moving around the circle. You're gonna hear me play Option voicing number one, all the way around the circle all 12 diminished chords. Then I'm going to shift to primary, two handed voicing option number two, all the way around the circle for all 12 diminished chords. Then the third time through, you will hear me alternate between voicing one and voicing two for each of the diminished chords. Okay. Wow, this is a big time exercise. So let's bring in the ensemble. And let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go. As you can tell, you have to know your diminished voicings, option one and option two quite well. But if you use these five exercises, starting with the diminished isolation, and work your way up through the pairs to the minor third rotation to the whole tone, rotation and then finally the circle of fifths, I guarantee it, you will have to very hip diminished voicings under your fingers and in your ears. It will transform the way you think about and approach plain, diminished chords. We have covered a ton of ground in a very short period of time. And I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the primary two handed diminished voicings 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 primary two handed diminished voicings in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general also has a jazz piano skills remember, be sure to use the educational podcast packets for this podcast lesson and the jazz piano skills courses. Use them to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community get involved and contribute to the various forums and make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone at 972380805 Zero. My office extension is 211 you can reach me by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz panel skills, a website, podcast packets, and the jazz piano skills courses. Well, that's it for now. Until next week, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the primary, two handed, diminished voice. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano