Robert Estrin - piano expert

Diminished 7th Chords, Part 2 - The Deceptive 7th

Second part of the video on the diminished 7th chord

In this video, Robert continues talking about the diminished 7th chord, tackling the so-called concept of "Deceptive 7th."

Released on April 2, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to and I'm Robert Estrin with a special show. You could tell over thee from the theme. This is all about diminished seventh chord.

Last week, we defined what is the diminished seventh chord is. Today is the deception of the diminished seventh chord. That's right. It's one of the most deceptive chords there is because you can resolve almost anywhere. Let me show you.

We talked about last week how you can't really invert a diminished seventh chord because it's all minor thirds. That is three half steps, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. Play one more third and you're back to the first one.

It's all the same chord. So where's the root? Where in other chord you could tell where the root is. Play major seventh chord, invert it, you can see that this is obviously not a third anymore. And you can find the root easily by arranging the notes in thirds.

You don't have the benefit with the diminished seventh chord. It's only how you spell it. Let me show you what I mean.

If you have a diminished seventh chord like this and you're holding the B diminished seventh chord, it will resolve two C. Why? Because the diminished seventh chord is really a seven, seven. That is its built on the seventh note of the scale. If you're in C major, it would be built on B.

It would actually be half diminished. Technically, it's borrowed for the minor. Otherwise, you wouldn't have the A-flat on top. But this is a diminished seventh chord which will resolve to C. Just as you'd expect. It resolves in word.

But supposed you said, "No, this is in the B diminished seventh chord." This is a D diminished seventh chord, inverted, then it will resolve to up to not to C, B up to C, but it's D up to E-flat. Isn't that interesting?

So instead of resolving as a B diminished seventh chord to C, we can resolve it as a D diminished seventh chord to E-flat. Totally different place it ends up. Isn't that interesting?

Now, what about the other notes? You can do the same thing. The F or E-sharp, whatever you want to call it, can be the root. So it's gonna resolve upward and half step to F-sharp. And one last one, if this is a G-sharp diminished seventh chord, it's going to resolve to A.

So listen to these four ways you can resolve the chord. And it could also resolve to the minor.

So we just had eight ways resolving this one chord, but there's more. There's actually three different ways you can resolve a diminished seventh chord. That's only one of them. Can you believe this? This is quite a chord. So what's the next way?

Well, here's a very fascinating thing about the diminished seventh chord. Lower any note in the diminished seventh chord by half step, any one note and you have a dominant seventh. That's right.

So if you start with a B diminished seventh chord and lower the root to B-flat, now you'll have a B-flat seven resolve to E-flat. Now supposed we've lowered the D to a D-flat, that resolves the F-sharp, or G-flat in this case, or we can drop the F to E, half step. And lastly, drop the top note a half step and you've got a G dominant seventh chord.

And of course, those could all resolve to the minor as well which you can try for yourself at home. Is that enough for you? Am I overwhelming you?

Well, you can replay this if you like because there's a lot of excitement here, and it's just great compositional tool or improvisational tool for you. Not only that, but when you see diminished seventh chords in your music, you can discover where it's going and understand the structure behind it. The last one is truly a deceptive resolution to diminished seventh chord where you take any one note of the diminished seventh chord and make that note the root of a major or minor triad.

So if we start it with a B diminished seventh chord, go to a B major chord. Isn't that beautiful? Now you could do the same thing with the D. The D right here becomes the root of a D major chord or a D minor chord. And you can now do the same thing with the F or the A-flat.

So to recap, the diminished seventh chord has no inversions because when you invert it you still have all minor thirds. So, it gives you many possibilities for resolution. The classic resolution is that it is a seven, seventh chord, and so it resolves upward by half step. So a B diminished seventh chord resolve upward to C.

The second resolution is drop any note of a diminished seventh chord that becomes dominant and you resolve the dominant as you typically will. The dominant being the five resolve to the one of that key. So, drop the root of the B diminished seventh chord to B-flat dominant. B-flat is the five of the E-flat.

And lastly, the deceptive resolution. Take any one note and make that the root of a major or minor triad. So if we make the B, the root of the diminished seventh chord and then go to a B major chord, you'll have this resolution.

I hope that was interesting for you. Play around with these chords. They are really fun to work with.

Thanks so much for joining, Robert Estrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Mike Vitale * VSM MEMBER * on January 11, 2017 @3:36 pm PST
Thank you! That was a brilliant mix of theoretical and practical. I'm putting that in my tool bag!
Oluwaseun Collins on January 11, 2017 @7:20 am PST
This has really opened my eyes to the wide range of possibilities with this chord.
Thanks Robert!
Debra J Carlson * VSM MEMBER * on April 4, 2014 @7:23 am PST
After all the music theory I have had at the university level, I do not remember this being explained. If it was, it was not made crystal clear to me like Mr. Estrin has provided in this video. Thank you!
joyce marshall on April 2, 2014 @9:26 am PST
This is a real information packed video. I am going to practice resolving these diminished 7ths. Quite a challenge. I love all your videos and you present them with such excitement. Keep sending videos, I look forward to them. What is the name of the piece you play at the end. I would love to learn it.
Robert - host, on April 2, 2014 @5:47 pm PST
I'm glad you like the closing theme. It is something I composed just for Virtual Sheet Music. Perhaps we should publish it on the website!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on April 2, 2014 @5:54 pm PST
Yes, that's something we can definitively consider! Thanks for the request!
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