Here’s How To Apply Diminished Chords In Cyclical Chord Progressions

You arrived at this page because you’re interested in learning how to apply diminished chords in cyclical chord progressions.

Although diminished chords are not commonly used, they are commonly applied in gospel music harmony to create or add more tension or bluesy feeling.

Let’s take sometime to review diminished chords before we proceed to how they are applied in cyclical chord progressions.

“What Are Diminished Chords?”

Diminished chords (especially triads and seventh chords) are chords that are usually found on the seventh tone of the major and minor key.

Diminished Chords In The Major Key

In the key of C major:

…where B:

…is the seventh tone, the chords of the seventh tone (starting from B) are classified as diminished chords.

“Based On Chord Formation In Thirds…”

B:

…and D:

…then B-D:

…and F:

…produces the B diminished triad:

Adding an A (a third above B-D-F):

…produces the B half-diminished seventh chord:

So, the diminished triad and the half-diminished seventh chords are the diminished chords in the major key.

Diminished Chords In The Minor Key

In the key of A minor:

…where G#:

…is the seventh tone, the chords of the seventh tone (starting from G#) are classified as diminished chords.

“Based On Chord Formation In Thirds…”

G:

…and B:

…then G#-B:

…and D:

…produces the G# diminished triad:

Adding an F (a third above G#-B-D):

…produces the G# diminished seventh chord:

So, the diminished triad and the diminished seventh chords are the diminished chords in the minor key.

“In A Nutshell…”

There are three common diminished chords:

The diminished triad (of the major and minor key)

The half-diminished seventh chord (of the major key)

The diminished seventh chord (of the minor key)

“Check Out All The Diminished Triads On The Keyboard…”

C diminished triad:

C# diminished triad:

D diminished triad:

D# diminished triad:

E diminished triad:

F diminished triad:

F# diminished triad:

G diminished triad:

G# diminished triad:

A diminished triad:

A# diminished triad:

B diminished triad:

“Check Out All The Half-Diminished Seventh Chords On The Keyboard…”

C half-diminished seventh chord:

C# half-diminished seventh chord:

D half-diminished seventh chord:

D# half-diminished seventh chord:

E half-diminished seventh chord:

F half-diminished seventh chord:

F# half-diminished seventh chord:

G half-diminished seventh chord:

G# half-diminished seventh chord:

A half-diminished seventh chord:

A# half-diminished seventh chord:

B half-diminished seventh chord:

“Check Out All The Diminished Seventh Chords On The Keyboard…”

C diminished seventh chord:

C# diminished seventh chord:

D diminished seventh chord:

D# diminished seventh chord:

E diminished seventh chord:

F diminished seventh chord:

F# diminished seventh chord:

G diminished seventh chord:

G# diminished seventh chord:

A diminished seventh chord:

A# diminished seventh chord:

B diminished seventh chord:

A Short Note On Cyclical Chord Progressions

The Application Of Diminished Chords In Cyclical Chord Progressions

Diminished chords can easily be applied in cyclical progressions. There are two steps to this application:

Step 1. Get started by playing a dominant seventh, dominant ninth, or dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord.

Step 2. Lower the right hand diminished chord (which may be the diminished triad, half-diminished seventh chord, or the diminished seventh chord) by half-steps while progressing in fourths/fifths.

Let’s do it step-by-step!

Application Of The Diminished Triad In Cyclical Chord Progressions

Playing the diminished triad a major third or (major tenth) above a given root note, produces the dominant seventh chord.

Attention: A major third or major tenth interval is a product of the distance between the first and third tone of the scale in the major key.

A major third above C:

…is E:

A major tenth above C:

…is E (as well):

Therefore, the E diminished triad:

…played over C (on the bass):

…produces the C dominant seventh chord:

“Then Step 2…”

We can go ahead and play cyclical progressions on the left hand, while the right hand diminished triad descends in half-steps.

From the C dominant seventh chord:

…to the F dominant seventh chord:

The E diminished triad:

…descended (by a half-step) to the Eb diminished triad:

From the F dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…to the Bb dominant seventh chord:

The Eb diminished triad:

…descended (by a half-step) to the D diminished triad:

“Check Out A Cyclical Chord Progression Using Diminished Triads…”

From the F dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…to the Bb dominant seventh chord:

…to the Eb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…to the Ab dominant seventh chord:

…to the Db dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…to the Gb dominant seventh chord:

…to the B dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…to the E dominant seventh chord:

…to the A dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…to the D dominant seventh chord:

…to the G dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…and back to the C dominant seventh chord:

Application Of The Diminished Seventh Chord In Cyclical Chord Progressions

This is similar to that of the diminished triad.

Application Of The Half-Diminished Seventh Chord In Cyclical Chord Progressions

Final Words

 

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.