Tony Oreshko jazz and gypsy jazz guitar


by Tony Oreshko
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Jazz Soloing: Lesson 5

Diminished Arpeggios Over Dominant 7th Chords

In soloing lesson 4 we looked at using diminished 7th arpeggios to solo over their matching diminished chords.

In this next lesson we're going to look at a slightly more sophisticated use of diminished arpeggios, as substitutes to play against dominant 7th chords.

Creating 7b9 Sounds with Diminished 7th Arpeggios

One very interesting feature about diminished 7ths is that they are almost identical to 7b9 chords a semitone away. This means we can play a diminished arpeggio over a dominant 7th chord and make a 7b9 sound. Here are some examples to show how it works:

Chord Arpeggio to Play Sound Created
Eb7 E dim Eb7b9
E7 F dim E7b9
F7 F# dim F7b9
F#7 G dim F#7b9
G7 G# dim G7b9
Ab7 A dim Ab7b9
and so on...

As you can see from the list above, we can solo against any dominant 7th chord by using a diminished 7th arpeggio a semitone higher than the root note of the chord. The sound created is a 7b9.

Four Different Names

In the previous lesson we said that any diminished 7th chord or arpeggio takes its name from any of the four different notes that make it up, so it can have four different names.

Here's a reminder of the E dim7 arpeggio fingering pattern from the previous lesson. This has six notes, but two of them are just the same note repeated at a higher octave.

E Diminshed Arpeggio
Click on the diagram below to listen

E Diminished arpeggio diagram

The arpeggio above is called E diminished, but can also be called G, Bb or C# diminished. This means this same arpeggio can be played against either an Eb7, Gb7, A7 or C7 chord. This will create either an Eb7b9, Gb7b9, A7b9 or C7b9 sound.

Listen to the soundclips below. In each case they start with a different dominant 7th chord, immediately followed by exactly the same diminished arpeggio. In each case the sound produced is a 7b9 on the dominant 7th chord:

E diminished arpeggio over Eb7 chord   Eb7 chord followed by E diminished arpeggio
Sound produced is Eb7b9

E diminished arpeggio over Gb7 chord   Gb7 chord followed by G diminished (= E diminished) arpeggio
Sound produced is Gb7b9

E diminished arpeggio over A7 chord   A7 chord followed by Bb diminished (= E diminished) arpeggio
Sound produced is A7b9

E diminished arpeggio over C7 chord   C7 chord followed by C# diminished (= E diminished) arpeggio
Sound produced is C7b9


In this lesson we've learnt how to play a diminished 7th arpeggio over a dominant 7th chord and make a 7b9 sound.

Because each diminished chord or arpeggio has four different names it means that we can play the same diminished arpeggio against four different dominant 7th chords. In each case we create a 7b9 sound when we play it against the chord.

In the next lesson we'll pull a few threads together and see how we can use all the arpeggios we've learnt so far in some real jazz soloing.

Tony Oreshko

Go to Jazz Soloing Lesson 6

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