Symmetrical Diminished Scale

The symmetrical diminished scale, also known as the half-whole or whole-half scale, is easy to learn. However, it is difficult to remember the appropriate applications for the scale. As the name implies, the scale is constructed of alternating whole and half steps and sounds very sophisticated and colorful. Here are the 3 half-whole scales starting on C, C#, and D:

symmetrical, diminished, scale, half, whole

There are only 3 different possible scales because the same scale is repeated every minor 3rd. For example the C half-whole scale is the same notes as the Eb, F#, and A half-whole scales. This makes the scale ideal for making a sequence of notes and repeating the sequence up minor 3rds. So go ahead and learn the 3 possible scales.

Know them? Now for the application. This scale works well on dominant V7 chord, especially those that resolve down a fifth to a major chord and have a flat 9 and a natural 13. So on a C7b9 play the C half-whole scale.

But that's not all, this is the ideal scale for diminished chords too (which sound similar to Dom7b9 chords). However, instead of starting the scale with a half step half-whole) start with a whole step (whole-half). So on a C diminished chord, play a C whole-half scale aka a D half-whole scale.

Go back to Music Scales or go to The Jazz Resource Homepage