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Diminished 7th Chords


These mongrel chords are the Crewe Junction of the harmonic world. You can come from many places to them and depart from them to many more. But they worry me insofar as I suspect they could be used to cover up a multitude of sins. They strike me as potentially lazy solutions to musical problems. Don’t know where to go next? No bother at all: stick on a diminshed 7th and press on regardless! Augmented 5ths are almost as bad except they can’t be so easily disguised – at least by me. Even on a dominant 7th with a flat-9 tagged on they stick out and very easily sound hackneyed. (On reflection, this may have more to do with my lack of skill in their use than the character of the chords, per se. Be that as it may; I have to use them sparingly and with care.)

On the other hand, I’ll put a flattened fifth on any chord and use it with gay abandon. I don’t care how many cliches I spawn thereby – they’re just so damn’ nice. G major 7 flat 5? Mmmm”¦

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