I want to spice up my solos over a Blues progression. I already can play a variety of scales but the Diminished scale is something I would like to add because of the particular sounds it creates. In what ways would I use it to enhance the solo? Thanks.
In a standard 12-bar I-IV-V blues progression (here in F)
||: F7 | F7 | F7 | F7 |
| Bb7 | Bb7 | F7 | F7 |
| C7 | Bb7 | F7 | C7 :||
there are three places where you should start trying to incorporate the diminished scale:
The 3 bars mentioned above are the most obvious choices for using the diminished scale in a I-IV-V blues. Of course you can play the diminished (half-whole) over every dominant-seventh chord, but if you do this in a simple blues progression, you will stop sounding bluesy.
If you're interested in using different scales over a blues progression, you should check out this example by Oz Noy: Scales over 12-bar Blues
There are two diminished scales, the half/whole and the whole/half. This translates ,in C,as C,Db, Eb, E, F#,G, A, Bb, for the first, as it jumps semitone/tone, etc. The other works starting with C, D, Eb etc.Both work best over a diminished chord. I have used note names as they came, not particularly accurately.
To fit into a solo, one way is to look at a bar, say, C7, and check which notes will fall on , say, beats 1 and 3. A run of triplets using the first 6 of the half/whole would put a C on beat one, E on beat two. If that was repeated, it would mesh in with the C chord underlying.
You may find that the other sounds better - or continue the rest of the bar going up. Key notes fit in key places, sometimes with a bit of re-timing, but that's what it's about .Try it. If it sounds good, it probably is.And vice versa...
If you're thinking just of the notes a tone and a half apart, they fit best over a diminished chord, more like an arpeggio.
Consider the half whole diminished scale: R b9 b3 3 #4 5 6 b7 R
All notes except one are very commonly used in blues soloing.
the inclusion of both the b3 and 3 gives the essence of blues (mixing major and minor). The 'blues note' (b5/#4) is there. All of the chord tones are there. The 6 is there. So it suits blues very well.
Try these over a dominant chord: (notes for an A7)
b3 3 R (C C# A)
.#4 5 b7 R (D# E G A)
6 b7 R (F# G A)
They are all very familiar sounding blues licks.
However the b9 is very rare in traditional blues. The fact the scale has only one 'outside' note (in a blues context) makes this scale a great introduction to more outside jazz & fusion style blues. As for your question, to incorporate it into your own playing you use that same method as you would (or should..) for any other scale: learn licks! Listen to jazz and fusion and you'll hear this scale often.
Here a short one to get you started (in A)
A C C# E G Bb C C# A
All ascending except for the final C# to A.
I won't mention the whole half dim. scale as it is nowhere near as useful in a blues context for reasons that should be obvious:
What Fergus said is true if you start a diminished arpegio from any chord tone but the root. Lets say you are playing over A7 (A C# E G) If you start a diminished chord over the 3th, C# you get C# E G A# over the 5th, E you get E G A# C# over the 7th, G you get G A# C# E
All the above had the same chord tones as a rootless A7 b9
But if you start a diminished chord from the root of A, you will not get those notes.