Diminished Cliches (I-#Io7-ii7-V)

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Diminished Cliche
(I-#Io7-ii7-V)

"The root notes of the first three chords in the “C-C#o7-Dm7-G7” diminished cliché form a “1-#1-2” ascending chromatic bass line. This progression was also used to write numerous 1920s and 1930s ballads and can usually be substituted for the standard progression. The definitive example of this type of diminished cliché is the A section progression to Harold Arlen’s 1933 standard Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All The Time) shown below.

Cmaj7 / C#o7 / Dm7 / G7 / Cmaj7 / C#o7 / Dm7 / G7 /
Cmaj7 / C#o7 / Dm7 / G7#5 / Cmaj7 / C#o7 / Dm7 / G7 /

The box below shows other examples of this type of bass line progression. This is a good progression to evoke that 1940s Christmas feeling. Before you think that this progression has no modern application, take a look at the For Once In My Life example and the “Dm7-G7-C-C#o7” displacement used to write the opening verse progression to Bennie And The Jets (Elton John - 1974), the “Dm7-G11-Cmaj7-C#o7” opening verse progression to My Eyes Adored You (Frankie Valli – 1975), and the “Dm9-G13sus-C-C#o7” main verse progression to Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight (James Taylor – 1972). Earlier, the "Dm7-G9-C6-C#o7" displacement was used to write the opening A section progression to Bob Hope's theme song Thanks For The Memories in 1937."

Cmaj7 C#o7 Dm7 G7 Sheik Of Araby A section (Standard - 1921), It’s Only A Paper Moon A section (Standard - 1933), Solo Flight A section (Charlie Christian – 1944), Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! B section (Standard – 1945), Hello Young Lovers A section (from “The King And I” –1951), and I Could Have Danced All Night A section (from “My Fair Lady” – 1956)
C C#o7-Eo7 Dm7 G7 My Sweet Lord chorus (George Harrison - 1970
C-C6-Cmaj7 C#o7 Dm7 G7 Mame verse (from “Mame” - 1966)
C-Cmaj7-C6 C#o7 Dm7 G7 Little Saint Nick verse (Beach Boys – 1963)
C-Cmaj7-C6-Cmaj7 C#o7 Dm7 G7 Jingle Bell Rock verse (Bobby Helms – 1957)
C-C+-C6 C#o7 Dm7 Bb-G7 For Once In My Life verse (Stevie Wonder – 1968)
C6 C#o7 Dm7 G7 Lullaby Of Broadway A section (Standard – 1935)
C6 C#o7 Dm11 G13 ‘S Wonderful A section (Standard - 1927)
C6 C#o7 Dm7-Fm6/Ab G7 Kissing A Fool verse (George Michael - 1988)
Cmaj7 C#o7 Dm7 G13 Deep Purple A section (Standard - 1934)
Cmaj7 C#o7 Dm11 G7 Winter Wonderland A section (Standard – 1934)

(Excerpt from Chord Progressions For Songwriters © 2003 by Richard J. Scott)

If you want to learn more about diminished chords, take a look at the following lessons:

Diminished Chords (MoneyChords)


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