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Jazz Bass Tip: The Diminished Triad

John Patitucci has been around the block a few times, so when it comes to playing diminished he's heard it all. Too often bass players end up playing the same thing.

Or more specifically, they'll play a series of notes which immediately stick out as being part of the diminished scale. To John, this is like telegraphing your move:

"That always used to drive me crazy. I'd hear someone play diminished and it's like 'here we go now we're playing diminished, oh isn't that great'… After a while there's no creativity, it's just spelling out a sound with no musical end game." 

So how do we avoid this? The answer… 

jazz bass lessons with john patitucci

Creating Triads in The Diminished

Triads, which are just groups of three, can help break up the scale when playing in the diminished.  When playing triads, the importance of practicing arpeggios comes into focus. After all, arpeggios are triads, so the more you practice them the more it will help here.

The reason why it's so important to practice arpeggios is that they'll help you develop that necessary flexibility. Playing triads in the diminished will inject more melody into your sound and help you avoid sounding "scaley".

Instead of thinking about the diminished as a series of notes in a scale, instead try to outline the diminished sound by playing major and minor triads in the diminished.


Watch John's Free Bass Lessons

Tenor sax players like John Coltrane and Michael Brecker have experimented with this style of playing diminished for a long time. By toggling around these major and minor triads, you can sneakily break into the diminished without sounding obvious about it.

John Patitucci demonstrates some of these triads in the sample bass lesson here from his online Jazz Bass School. Be sure to check out more by filling out the form!        

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