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Music Theory On Line

Learning Diminished Chords

We have learned that a Major chord is formed by selecting the root, third, and fifth tones of a major scale.

For example C, E, and G in the key of C form a Major chord.

When the Major 3rd of the chord is lowered one-half step, the chord becomes a minor chord (C, Eb, G). The intervals in that minor chord are C to Eb, a minor third, and C to G, a Perfect fifth.

If the minor chord has the fifth of the chord lowered one-half step the chord becomes a diminished chord. By changing the C minor chord's Perfect fifth G to a diminished fifth Gb, the chord is called a C diminished chord.

The abbreviated chord symbol is Cdim or C.

Here is what a diminished chord sounds like.

Diminished Chords

Listen to the diminished chords below. They are mysterious and "eerie" sounding. One could believe that everything is "dangerous and very gloomy".

diminished chord #1
diminished chord # 2
diminished chord # 3
diminished chord # 4

Listen to these sequences of three diminished chords. There is a very "Hunchback of Notre Dame" type of sound.

Sequence # 1
Sequence # 2
Sequence # 3

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