Miracle of Diminshed 7th Chords

I’ve been working on learning jazz chords, and how to derive them myself, rather than try to memorize lots of dots on frets diagrams.  I’m using the baritone ukelele for this because it only has four strings, which line up nicely with the four notes in most jazz chords.  This simplifies things somewhat.

So, I started with 7th chords and made an amazing discovery!  The diminshed 7ths are at the root of all 7th chords!  Here’s the big picture:

(Note on diagrams — these are the four strings and the fingerings, but instead of dots, the position in chord is written so you can see how it’s constructed.  These fret all the strings, so the fingerings can be moved.  The chord being played is based on whatever note is under the circled 1.)

Backing up, the idea is to come up with moveable chord fingerings with the root on any one of the four strings.  So for each chord, such as minor 7th, there are four different fingerings, allowing it to be played multiple ways at multiple positions on the fret board.

I had been working from regular 7th fingerings, and then started to add others, and was moving towards the diminshed 7ths when…  They were all the same fingerings.  No matter which string was the root, the fingering of a diminshed 7th chord was the same.  Just the role played by each note was different.

How cool is that!

Why is that?  A diminshed 7th is made up 1 3b 5b 7bb.  All the intervals are minor thirds.  Even 7bb – 1 is a minor third, so it just keeps going and going.

The various inversions for the different root strings are:

  • 1 5b 7bb 3b
  • 5b 1 3b 7bb
  • 3b 7bb 1 5b
  • 7bb 3b 5b 1

Note how well those inversions line up with the 4th 3rd 4th tuning of the baritone uke (and four high strings of a guitar)(and regular uke as well).  1 – 5b, and 7bb – 3b are augmented fourths (two minor thirds) and bridge neatly across the 4th tuned strings.  But so are 5b – 1 and 3b – 7bb, because the augmented fourth is the only symmetric interval.

Those pairs are then joined by, say, 5b – 7bb, a minor third, which falls nicely across the center third tuning.  As do all the other inversions.

Anyway, starting with these inversions you can make single fret changes to gradually create any of the 7th chords.  That is, understanding these inversions, and then removing the required flats lets you derive, in your head, any of these jazzy 7th chords.

Just pick a root, say you want a G7 around the middle of the keyboard.  So take the 4th string 5th fret, a G, make the diminished 7th chord, and then move each of the other fingers up a fret, 5b -> 5, 7bb -> 7b, 3b -> 3b, and you’ve got G7 on the fifth fret!

Want to slide from there into a Cmaj7?  Well C is on the third string 5th fret.  Leave that finger be, take all the others up a fret, and then take the 7b up one more and you’ve got Cmaj7.

ii – V – I is a classic jazz progression.  To add the minor 7th to the two chords above, I like the D on third string 7th fret.  Start with the diminished 7th with the root on there.  Move the 7bb and 5b each up one, leaving the 3b alone.

Now you can play Dm7 – G7 – Cmaj7, classic ii V I.  Isn’t it sweet?

29% Interest

In the 1990s credit card companies came up with an extremely efficient way to transfer money from the poor to the rich.  29% interest on credit card debit.

Elizabeth Warren thought this was just plain wrong.  She tried to get Congress to stop it.  She lost.  Congress thought it was just fine.

This was during the Clinton years.

My point again, there is plenty to be angry about in the way Washington DC has been running for decades, with any combination of Democrat or Republican President or Congress.

Bush making it illegal for us to buy cheaper drugs from Canada.  Another good way to transfer money from the middle class to the rich. Pharmaceuticals had poured more money into politics in those years than even the oil companies.

It doesn’t matter which major party is in charge.  It’s the money behind the politicians that matters.

If we’d had a Sanders or Johnson win, they would have been beholden to tens of thousands of people making small donations.  They would have been beholden to us.

If Clinton won, she’d be beholden to that dark money that’s behind our politics.

And if Trump won, well he did, at least we know who he’s beholden to.  Himself.

What Could Have Been

There is tremendous outrage against Trump, and I am as outraged as the next person.  But let’s consider what might have been.

If Gary Johnson had won…  sigh, nevermind, not going there.

If Hillary had won, we would have a President who respects women.  We would have a President who claims to respect the rights of all people, regardless of race, creed, color… We would have a President who is not a bully, an ego-maniac, paranoid, or crazy.  We would have a President that views Putin as a threat to the free World.

We would have a President with more experience in Washington DC politics than just about anyone, active First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State…

And we would have a President who raised more than twice as much money as Trump.  A President who a lot of people with a lot of money wanted to see elected.

And this is where I have a problem.  Before this election cycle Congress was at record low approval ratings.  And this goes back through multiple Presidents.

Consider the Affordable Care Act.  Obama wanted to fix health care.  He left it up to Congress, and said he didn’t care if it went totally free market, or single payer.  Either was better than what we got.

So Congress came up with this kludge.  And I know, it provided health care for many who couldn’t afford it.  But how did it pay for it?  By forcing healthy people who didn’t need health insurance to buy insurance.  Did you follow that?  By forcing more people to purchase health insurance from insurance companies.

Could it be the insurance company lobbies were somehow involved in Congress’ plan?  To sell more insurance?

Bernie is right, the whole system is corrupt, and has lowered the standard of living of everyone except for the very rich.  This has been going on since the 1990s.

So who were those people giving all that money to Hillary?  People who wanted to make sure our President respected women?  Who wanted to make sure illegal immigrants were treated fairly?  Who wanted to protect the rights of muslims in this country?  Is that why they gave millions and millions of dollars to help get her elected?

Or did they expect something else from their investment?

Was Hillary speaking the truth when she told those wealthy donors there were two governments.  A public one for the people and a shadow one for those pulling the strings.

If Hillary had won, we would have more of what we had already.  And we would all be smiling at her and she smiling at us as we continued to get screwed.

And I love Obama as much as anyone, what a class act.  But the same crap went on on his watch.  He supported Mary Jo White, head of the SEC, who says Elizabeth Warren is naive for wanting corporations to list their political contributions.  Warren wanted corporations to have to tell which campaigns they support.  White said you can’t do that because if people knew who corporations were supporting, people might not do business with them. And that would hurt the investors, and we wouldn’t want that.

That’s Obama!  That’s the good guy!  It sucks under him as well.

Do you see where I’m going?  We’ve been getting fucked by Washington for going on 30 years now.  Hillary would have been more of that.

Trump is a disaster, no question.  But instead of being angry at all the things Bernie Sanders says we should be angry at, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/09/opinions/serious-questions-bernie-sanders-opinion/index.html we’re angry at offensive tweets.  We’re angry at this insane man.  We’re distracted from that which we should be really angry about.  A Congress that serves only the wealthy, and has been doing so for decades.

One of Trump’s idea, that I used to agree with, is term limits for Congress, to stop career policticians.  But as far as I can tell Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the only two who are actually fighting for the rest of us.  So now I don’t even agree with his idea of term limits.



The 1%

The latest data on wealth distribution leaves me with questions.  The 8 wealthiest families are worth as much as the bottom 50% of the World’s population.

My first thought is that really reflects more on the extreme poverty of so many people.  Billions of people with net worths of zero.  This is a serious problem, but, not it seems, one related to the concentration of wealth in the wealthiest.  Whether the wealth is in my middle class bank account or Bill Gate’s, doesn’t really matter much to the people living in Africa’s Rift Valley.

My second thought is our government.  We all know that the wealthy have bought our government, and that money is pulling the strings from behind the curtain.  Right?

But look at the 8 wealthiest.  These don’t seem like evil smoke-filled room schemers.  Gates? with all his charities, and Buffett? who says it’s not right that he makes so much more than his secretary, Bezos? who owns the Washington Post, Zuckerberg? bringing Internet to the Third World, Bloomberg? Democrat mayor of New York?

These aren’t people using their money to buy government to increase their wealth.  In fact, they’re giving it away.  Or using it to explore space.

So where is the money behind bought Congress people coming from?  Why haven’t these people, who are the most wealthy, standing in the way?  Why aren’t the wealthy on the side of good more effective at off-setting the wealthy on the side of evil?