After I recently posted my lessons titled “Jim Hall Diminished Voicings” and “Wes Montgomery Chord Scales” I was contacted by the great Athens, Ohio based jazz guitarist and educator John Horn with a cool chord run that mixes Wes’ chord scale approach and Jim’s diminished voicings. Since John was kind enough to let me post the run as a lesson on my site we can now dig in and learn this great approach to comping and chord soloing over Altered Dominant Chords.
This chord run is based off of the Half-Whole Diminished Scale, so let’s begin by taking a look at this scale with all the notes on the 5th string. This is going to be important later on because we are going to take this scale on the 5th string and build a chord on top of each of these 8 different notes to construct our Jim Hall inspired chord scale.
Have a question or comment about this lesson? Visit the Jim Hall Chord Scale thread in the MWG Forum.
Now, let’s look at the Jim Hall chord voicing that inspired John to send me his chord scale. This chord voicing, shown here on Gdim7, is constructed by taking the normal diminished chord voicing that we all know and raising the third note, here E, up a tone, in this key to F#. By doing so we are creating a dimMaj7 chord, which is a cool sound, one that functions as any normal diminished chord that we already know, yet it gives us a new diminished sound to add to our vocabulary.
Check out the 5th string version in particular as we’re going to use it in every second voicing for the Jim Hall chord scale. If you are trying out different fingerings for this chord, I like to play the 5th string with my first finger and all the rest with my 2nd finger.
Now, all we are going to do is take the Jim Hall chord voicing above and adding it the the second note in each bar of the half-whole diminished scale. For the first note of each bar we are going to use a 7(#9) chord, with the “Jimi Hendrix voicing” that we all know from the riff to his classic track “Purple Haze.”
So we are taking two simple voicings, using them to harmonize a half-whole diminished scale, and now we have a cool sounding, Jim Hall inspired chord scale that we can use to spice up our comping, chord melodies and chord solos.
The best part about this run is that it’s based on a diminished scale, which means that you can use this particular chord scale, shown below, to play over four different chords, C7alt, Eb7alt, Gb7alt and A7alt, the four chords that come from harmonizing a Cdim7 chord. Pretty neat huh?
Now take this idea into the woodshed. It’ll add a new dimension to your altered chord playing, allowing you one more tool in your bag to navigate these common, but often tricky chords.
To check out more of John’s lessons and keep up on what he’s doing, please visit his website.
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