hi, just a question regarding the use of block chords if anyone could help. in general, every second block chord for any scale is diminished. say if a bar of music begins in c7 and the first note is d. harmonising this with block chords would result in a diminished chord and sound bad. it seems that the diminished chords can only be used as passing chords. so what do you do if the bar of c7 begins with a note not from the c7 chord?
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hi pianoftw, interesting question.

this might sound very obvious or very basic/vanilla, but what about playing the d with a c7 shell, then, still holding the d play that second block chord, so it matches the d? the d over the c7 shell sounds ok, and i guess if your chording isn't mathematically perfect for a split second you might be okay; depends on what you like to hear i guess.

which tune are you doing this over?

i love these questions because they make you go to the piano and try stuff out and discover what may or may not work...
pianoftw- using the formula for harmonizing a scale by making every second block chord a diminished one is a good way to harmonize a scale or melody, but it's only one of many ways to harmonize.

if there is a time when the diminished chord doesn't sound good to you, experiment with other kinds of chords until you find one that does sound good. sometimes it means playing the relative v7 chord, or the tri-tone sub for the v7, or a parallel voicing that is the same as the one you played before.

if it's a passing tone then sometimes having a little bit of tension is ok because it doesn't last long (kind of what time to talk said.)
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hey thanks for the feedback. some interesting ideas! i've been trying things this morning and basically to use a block chord on a melody note that is on beat one and not within the 1,3,5,7 notes, you must first strike the tonic then play the diminshed quickly after. if you don't it just sounds like a random diminished chord. the piece i was playing was 'pure imagination' (real book vol' 3). the first bar begins with bb in fmin7.

i also gave some improv a crack with block chords. it's not easy but i found that the harmony is a lot clearer if you precede each new chord with a diminished.  this kind of reinforces the chord change.

i think i may be thinking to mathematically about this. like scot said, just play what sounds good.
this will help:

practice from the head, play from the heart.

jazz theory is pure math, nothing more, nothing less.  you have to learn the formulas, your tools, in order to create something.

so when you're practicing, get as mathematical as you possibly can, and dig into the root of the thing you're working on. don't spread yourself thin- if you are working on your block chords with every leading chord a diminished, that's awesome. keep on digging as deep as you can until you know everything about it.

as you do this, these things will automatically come out in your playing,during performances or jamming or whatever.  just don't think about that stuff during performances, jamming, and whatever.

that really is the biggest pitfall of learning new stuff.  sometimes it's easy to try to force the new stuff into your performances before it's time.  

i suppose this post is not exactly relevant to what we're talking about here, but when you said you were getting too mathematical, this came to mind.

play what sounds good when performing, but make your brain sweat when practicing.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
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