BY DANI JOY
Welcome to Chord by Chord, a beginner’s guide for the ukulele. In this lesson I’ll teach you about a new chord type, diminished, with its mysterious sound. On the uke, what is commonly called a diminished chord is actually a diminished seventh chord—just a diminished triad with an additional note, the diminished seventh, adding a little bit of color.
While the two diminished seventh chords you’ll learn in this lesson are not technically in C major, they are often used in that key and are therefore good to know. Example 1 introduces a Cdim7 chord, whose shape looks like a checkerboard. To form it, place your first and second fingers on fret 2 of strings 4 and 2, respectively, and your third and fourth fingers on fret 3 of strings 3 and 1. This is the first time in this series that you are using your pinky, so if it first it’s a little stubborn, I promise you that it can be trained. In any case, strum Cdim7 for two measures, first slowly and then a little faster.
The cool thing about the diminished seventh is that we can use the same shape to play chords up and down the neck. For instance, move Cdim7 up one fret for C#dim7, which is also very common in the key of C, mostly in jazz and music from the early 20th century. As shown in Example 2, play C#dim7 for two measures. You get bonus points if you can tap your foot while you strum these examples.
Now let’s try switching chords. Example 3 shows a typical jazz progression—C–Cdim7–Dm–G7–C. Remember to start off nice and easy, and then play the figure once again, a little bit faster. For Example 4, play the same progression, except with a C#dim7 chord instead of Cdim7.
Keep on working on those diminished seventh chords until the next lesson. I’ll continue teaching you chord progressions, with some examples that will allow your fingers to get used to the patterns common to so many popular songs, ultimately allowing you to play more freely.