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What Schöenberg Said

The one of the most important 20th Century composers, Arnold Schöenberg notes a diminished 7th chord is an extension of a dominant chord with lowered 9th and omitted root (p.348 "Theory of Harmony" ISBN 0-520-04944-6).

Let's take a look at what is being talked here.

When a C#dim7 chord appears in the key of C Major, followed by a D-7 chord, it is a diatonic functioning diminished chord, I#dim7". The theoretically correct chord scale would be as follow:

This C#dim7 chord can be understood as an A7(b9) without root, functioning as V7(b9)/II, and the expected chord scale is a perfect match.


When you see a diminished chord, and if you could identify it as a diatonic functioning diminished chord quick enough on your sight reading, all what you need to do is to call up your cool Dominant 7th b9 lick on the Major 3rd below the root of the diminished chord.

But things might not be that simple when you are sight reading on stage. What if you see a Bb dim7 chord, which you couldn't tell if diatonic functioning? The Major 3 blow is Gb. What if you are not comfortable with Gb(b9) lick?

Read on..