View Full Version : Diminished and whole tone?

12-31-2002, 07:17 PM
Could anyone please explain to me what the diminished and whole tone scales are and what is meant by the term a "symetric scale."
Also, if anyone could tell me what styles use them (eg- jazz, metal, etc) and how to use them in my playing I would appreciate it.

12-31-2002, 07:37 PM
Do you know what Symmetry means?

1 : balanced proportions; also : beauty of form arising from balanced proportions
2 : the property of being symmetrical; especially : correspondence in size, shape, and relative position of parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or median plane or about a center or axis -- compare BILATERAL SYMMETRY, RADIAL SYMMETRY
3 : a rigid motion of a geometric figure that determines a one-to-one mapping onto itself
4 : the property of remaining invariant under certain changes (as of orientation in space, of the sign of the electric charge, of parity, or of the direction of time flow) -- used of physical phenomena and of equations describing them.

Whole Tone scale: There are 12 half steps (one fret) in the chromatic scale, a Whole step is two half steps (two frets). So a whole tone scale is six whole steps any of the six tones can be the root because there is symmetry and only whole steps. What that means is theere are really only two unique whole tone scales.

The diminished scale has the configuration of half step, whole step which repeats (or whole step, half step) since this repeats every m3 (three frets) once again the the scale is symmetrical and if you start from any note that is followed by a half step it will sound the same(or if you start from any note followed by a whole step).
They are used mostly in Jazz to play over functioning altered dominant chords.

12-31-2002, 08:16 PM
there's a little misconception here. there are actually two diminished scales that are modes of each other. the first is the dominant diminished, which goes half-step, whole-step. the other diminished scale goes whole-step then half-step. so if you were to take the half-whole diminished and build a mode off of each note, it would look like this:

1 - half-whole diminished
2 - whole-half diminished
3 - half-whole diminished
4 - whole-half diminished
5 - half-whole diminished
6 - whole-half diminished
7 - half-whole diminished
8 - whole-half diminished

notice that instead of having 8 different modes, you end up repeating and only have 2 modes, because the intervals have a repeating, symmetrical pattern. now look at the 6 modes of the whole tone, you just have 6 whole tone modes. there are only 4 symetrical modes in music; the 3 I mentioned above and the chromatic scale.

12-31-2002, 08:23 PM
There are only two unique Whole tone scales, all six modes of the whole tone scale have exactly the same interval structure, so you have two C and C#.
The Dim Scale has three for whole half and three for half whole (C C# and D), but since they are actually modes of one another, there are only three unique diminished scales.

Basically you can determine this by where the symmetry occurs in the chromatic scale. If the symmetry divides the scale into 3rds there will be 4 if the symmetry divdes the scale into 4ths there will be 3, into 6ths only 2.

What about the Augmented scale and the Dim 7th Arpeggio?
Dim7 m3m3m3m3, repeats every m3 (three frets)
Aug m3m2m3m2m, Repeats every M3 (four frets)

12-31-2002, 08:29 PM
you're right. I forgot about the augmented scale. and I don't think the dim7 arpeggio matters in this particular discussion. I was talking about scales, not arpeggios.

12-31-2002, 08:38 PM
What is to say that you can't consider this a scale?
The whole tone scale is not diatonic neither is the m3 (dim7 arp) scale. Actually the Augmented scale is also non-diatonic since it has only m3 and m2 it would need a M2 to be diatonic.

01-02-2003, 06:12 AM
Originally posted by szulc
Aug m3m2m3m2m, Repeats every M3 (four frets)

that isn't really an "augmented scale" though szulc, it's nothing more than part of a harmonic minor scale.

I don't know, I guess I don't really think of their being augmented and diminished scales...when I hear the word "diminished" I think of the intervalic triad stucture min/min, between tonic and 3rd and 3rd and 5th, and then half and wholely diminished seventh chords, etc

01-02-2003, 09:44 AM
This is not part of the harmonic minor scale!

(ie. G# A C C# E F) And is Called The Augmented Scale!

01-02-2003, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by szulc
This is not part of the harmonic minor scale!

(ie. G# A C C# E F) And is Called The Augmented Scale! Hi szulc,

I'm a bit confused by this augmented scale. Where are you deriving this one from? and how do you use it?


01-03-2003, 02:19 AM
This is not where I learned this but it was easy to find on the web.
I learned this from an abersold or coker book in the early 80's.

01-03-2003, 05:30 AM
I guess it's just something we are going to have to accept guni,
thanks once again though szulc, it does make sense now, but the minor 3rd between scale degrees 6 and 7 are what made it strikingly similar to harmonic minor in my ear. When I took my theory classes we didn't really look into symettrical scales at all, are these just scales which have a recurring pattern?

Bongo Boy
01-03-2003, 06:44 AM
Originally posted by Shane we didn't really look into symettrical scales at all, are these just scales which have a recurring pattern?A recurring pattern is a possibility, but the key is that the intevals are symmetric around a midpoint note. For example the major scale intervals are:

t t s t t t s, and these intervals are NOT symmetric around the center interval. But tweaking it as follows:

t t s t s t t, results in a symmetric scale. The rh 3 intervals are a mirror-image, if you will, of the lh 3 intervals.

Here's something else on the augmented scale:

Often confused with the Whole Tone scale, the Augmented scale is another synthetic scale which is made up of a repeating pattern of intervals. It contains the Tonic , major 3rd and augmented 5th intervals , which is similar to the Whole Tone scale , however the scale formula is quite different. It is made from alternating minor 3rd and minor 2nd intervals, or minor 3rds with semitones in between.

Its primary use is as the improvising scale for augmented chords, but due to its symmetrical nature, this scale can be used to create many intervallic patterns that can add interest to any solo. Note that there are really only 4 augmented scales, as the notes will repeat themselves after moving up or down the neck every 4 frets, the same as augmented chords.

01-03-2003, 06:53 AM
Gratzi Bongo Boy, BTW, do you like Tool?

Bongo Boy
01-03-2003, 07:01 AM
...and here's one I stole from a site I found thru Google.

...do you like ToolI know I've heard their stuff but I never know (or pay attention) to who I'm listening to, so I can't really say.