Diminished Intervals

A Comprehensive Guide To Diminished Intervals

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Diminished intervals are one half step narrower than the perfect or minor intervals of the same numerical name except diminished fifth which is one half step narrower than a perfect fifth. We use a lower case d (or dim) to indicate diminished intervals.

How To Build Diminished Intervals

We can build simple diminished intervals by narrowing down a minor second, minor third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, minor sixth, minor seventh, and perfect octave intervals. Let’s see an example.

C-E Double Flat Diminished Third Interval
C-E Double Flat Diminished Third Interval

In this example, you can see C-E double flat. Between these notes, there are three note names and C and E double flat are two half steps away from each other. This is why we call this a diminished third interval.

Here is a table showing all diminished intervals with the number of half steps between their notes.

INTERVAL NAME

SYMBOL

NUMBER OF HALF STEPS

Diminished Second

d2

0

Diminished Third

d3

2

Diminished Fourth

d4

4

Diminished Fifth

d5

6

Diminished Sixth

d6

7

Diminished Seventh

d7

9

Diminished Octave

d8

11

There are five simple diminished intervals. Now, let’s learn about them in details.

Diminished Second (d2)

When we narrow down a minor second by a half step, we build a diminished second. Within a diminished second, there are two note names and the notes are zero half steps away from each other. In other words, they sound same just like unisons. Let’s see an example.

A-B Double Flat Diminished Second Interval
A-B Double Flat Diminished Second Interval

In this example, there is an ascending melodic diminished second interval between A and B double flat. Between these notes, there is zero half step. They sound alike. But this is not a unison. Because there are two note names within this interval which are A and B. If it was an A-A interval, it would be a unison. Let’s have a look at another example.

D-E Double Flat Diminished Second Interval
D-E Double Flat Diminished Second Interval

In this example, there is a harmonic diminished second interval between D and E double flat.

Now let’s have a look at all ascending diminished seconds that we can build.

All Ascending Diminished Seconds
All Ascending Diminished Seconds

In these figures, you can see all ascending melodic diminished second intervals starting on different notes, including enharmonic equivalents. Try to build them in harmonic form by yourself.

Diminished Third (d3)

When we narrow down a minor third by a half step, we build a diminished third. Within a diminished third, there are three note names and the notes are two half steps away from each other. In other words, they sound like major seconds. Let’s see an example.

A-C Flat Diminished Third Interval
A-C Flat Diminished Third Interval

In this example, there is an ascending melodic diminished third interval between A and C flat. Between these notes, there are two half steps. They sound like major seconds. But this interval is a diminished third. Because there are three note names within this interval which are A, B, and C. If it was A-B interval, it would be a major second. Let’s have a look at another example.

F-A Double Flat Diminished Third Interval
F-A Double Flat Diminished Third Interval

In this example, there is a melodic diminished third interval between F and A double flat. There are two half steps between these notes too.

Now let’s have a look at all ascending diminished thirds that we can build.

All Ascending Diminished Thirds

In this figure, you can see all ascending melodic diminished third intervals starting on different notes, including enharmonic equivalents. Try to build them in harmonic form by yourself.

Diminished Fourth (d4)

When we narrow down a perfect fourth by a half step, we build a diminished fourth. Within a diminished fourth, there are four note names and the notes are four half steps away from each other. In other words, they sound like major thirds. Let’s see an example.

C-F flat diminished fourth interval
C-F flat diminished fourth interval

In this example, there is an ascending melodic diminished fourth interval between C and F flat. Between these notes, there are four half steps. They sound like major thirds. But this interval is a diminished fourth. Because there are fourth note names within this interval which are A, B, C, and D.

F-B double flat diminished fourth interval
F-B double flat diminished fourth interval

In this example, there is a harmonic diminished fourth interval between F and B double flat. There are four half steps between these notes too.

Now let’s have a look at all ascending diminished fourths that we can build.

All Ascending Diminished Fourths

In this figure, you can see all ascending melodic diminished fourth intervals starting on different notes, including enharmonic equivalents. Try to build them in harmonic form by yourself.

Diminished Fifth (d5)

When we narrow down a perfect fifth by a half step, we build a diminished fifth. Within a diminished fifth, there are five note names and the notes are six half steps or three whole steps away from each other. This is why we also call this interval a tritone. Tritone refers to the three whole steps between notes. This particular interval is between perfect fourth and perfect fifth. This quality makes it one of the hardest sounding intervals. Let’s see an example.

C-G Flat Diminished Fifth Interval
C-G Flat Diminished Fifth Interval

In this example, there is an ascending melodic diminished fifth interval between C and G flat. There are five note names within this interval which are C, D, E, F, and G. There are six half steps (three whole steps) between C and G flat. Let’s have a look at another example.

G-D Flat Diminished Fifth Interval
G-D Flat Diminished Fifth Interval

In this example, there is a harmonic diminished fifth interval between G and D flat. There are six half steps between these notes too.

Now let’s have a look at all ascending diminished fifths that we can build.

All Ascending Diminished Fifths

All Ascending Diminished Fifths

In these figures, you can see all ascending melodic diminished third intervals starting on different notes, including enharmonic equivalents. Try to build them in harmonic form by yourself.

Diminished Sixth (d6)

When we narrow down a minor sixth by a half step, we build a diminished sixth. Within a diminished sixth, there are six note names and the notes are seven half steps away from each other. They sound like perfect fifths. Let’s see an example.

C-A Double Flat Diminished Sixth Interval
C-A Double Flat Diminished Sixth Interval

In this example, there is an ascending melodic diminished sixth interval between C and A double flat. Between these notes, there are seven half steps. Let’s have a look at another example.

F-D Double Flat Diminished Sixth Interval
F-D Double Flat Diminished Sixth Interval

In this example, there is a harmonic diminished sixth interval between F and D double flat. There are seven half steps between these notes too.

Now let’s have a look at all ascending diminished sixths that we can build.

In this figure, you can see all ascending melodic diminished sixth intervals starting on different notes, including enharmonic equivalents. Try to build them in harmonic form by yourself.

Diminished Seventh (d7)

When we narrow down a minor seventh by a half step, we build a diminished seventh. Within a diminished seventh, there are seven note names and the notes are nine half steps away from each other. They sound like major sixths. Let’s see an example.

C-B Double Flat Diminished Seventh Interval
C-B Double Flat Diminished Seventh Interval

In this example, there is an ascending melodic diminished sixth interval between C and B double flat. Between these notes, there are nine half steps. Let’s have a look at another example.

F-E Double Flat Diminished Seventh Interval
F-E Double Flat Diminished Seventh Interval

In this example, there is a harmonic diminished seventh interval between F and E double flat. There are nine half steps between these notes too.

Now let’s have a look at all ascending diminished sevenths that we can build.

All Ascending Diminished Sevenths

In this figure, you can see all ascending melodic diminished seventh intervals starting on different notes, including enharmonic equivalents. Try to build them in harmonic form by yourself.

Diminished Octave (d8)

When we narrow down an octave by a half step, we build a diminished octave. Within a diminished octave, there are eight note names and the notes are eleven half steps away from each other. They sound like major sevenths. Let’s see an example.

C-C flat diminished octave
C-C flat diminished octave

In this example, there is an ascending melodic diminished octave between C and C flat. Between these notes, there are eleven half steps. Let’s have a look at another example.

F-F flat diminished octave
F-F flat diminished octave

In this example, there is a harmonic diminished octave interval between F and F flat. There are eleven half steps between these notes too.

Now let’s have a look at all ascending diminished sevenths that we can build.

All Ascending Diminished Octaves

In this figure, you can see all ascending melodic diminished octaves starting on different notes, including enharmonic equivalents. Try to build them in harmonic form by yourself.

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