The Diminished Chord
All you need to know about the Diminished Chord
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In English language, to ‘diminish’ something means to make it smaller, lesser, less bigger or compressed than the original, while to make a thing augmented means to make it bigger, larger or more than the original one. Since music is a language and an art, therefore, it MUST be in line with other languages, no matter how many they are; it must confirm them. The aim of this tutorial is to teach you a different chord other than the major and minor chord you might ONLY be familiar with.
As stated above, just as those words exist in English language, they also do in Music. In Music, they mean exactly the same thing: Diminished means smaller, Augmented means bigger; but in this context, we would focus only on Diminished. So musically, it can be viewed in relation to a chord. Indirectly, what I mean is that, since English makes us know that Diminished means Smaller, therefore in Music, a diminished chord means a Smaller, compressed or lesser chord. It is a chord that has a small or close interval between each notes. Interval simply means the distance between two notes or pitches, and it can be Harmonic or melodic.
There are many other chords in music, other than the Major chords and Minor chords you might know. Some others include the diminished Chords, Augmented Chords, Sus2 chords, Sus4 chord, Major 7th, Minor 7th, Half and fully dimished chords, dominant chords, extended chords, altered chords. Truly, as it seems, more chords means more work on your part, but it also means more fun, more development and more professionalism.
Due to the compressed form of this chord, the chord has an unstable nature. Therefore, it always wants to resolve to a more stable chord. Many prefer to use it as a passing chord or tension chord, and with this, it sounds sweet.
How to form a Diminished chord on any key!
Forming this guy is no hard task; believe me! You are on your shortest route to forming a diminished chord on any key. Remember to read this patiently and share.
Generally, since the formula of a Major chord is 1 3 5 and that of a Minor is 1 b3 5, a diminished chord takes the formula of 1 b3 b5. Now you can clearly understand why it is called diminished: because it flattens both the Major third and Fifth of a Major chord to give a minor third and diminished fifth(or tritone), and flattens only the fifth of a Minor chord. The interval between each note is a Minor third(ie 1 and b3, and b3 and b5); it involves stacking minor thirds, while the interval from the root is a minor third and a tritonic interval. So in words, a diminished chord means
Root + Minor third + Tritone(or diminished 5th)
Since you know that the numbering of the notes of the chromatic scale is:
1, b2, 2, b3, 3, 4, b5, 5, b6, 6, b7, 7, 8
With the above formula you can easily figure out the diminished chords of any key.
For example, if we want to build a diminished chord on key C, following the diminished chord formulae(1 b3 b5), since our root is C and our 1 in the key, and since our b3 is Eb while our b5 is Gb, thefore, our C diminished chord is C Eb Gb..simple!
Example 2: Let us also form a diminished chord in B. Don’t forget – the formulae for constructing a triad diminished chord is 1 b3 b5. In line with this, our 1 is B, b3 is D, while b5 is F. Did you notice? B diminished chord has its notes on all the white keys, no other diminished chord has that.
Diminished Chords for all the Keys
Okay. Here is a big helping hand for you. First, I would like you to first try to construct a diminished chord in at least five keys other C and B by yourself. You could try it out on A, D, F, Bb, Db, and even try it on all. Just make sure to familiarize yourself with the chord shape so that even if you are in a deep sleep and someone suddenly wakes you up, asking you to build a diminished chord, you would do so in no time!
But what if i have formed my diminished chords but I am not sure if I got it, or I need help in forming it? Whatever reason you have, here is the correct diminished chords of all the 12 keys in music:
C – C Eb Gb
Db – Db E G
D – D F Ab
Eb – Eb Gb A
E – E G Bb
F – F Ab B
Gb – Gb A C
G – Gb A C
Ab – Ab B D
A – A C Eb
Bb – Bb Db E
B – B D F
One simple trick for forming a diminished chord on a particular key is to play the Major chord of the key that is a semitone before and then raise ONLY the root of the major chord a semitone higher. Example is: if I want to form a diminished chord in Db, I would simply first form a major chord in C, and that is C E G, then move the root of the chord, which is C, a semitone higher. So now I have: Db E G.
The diminished chord is permanently found in all diatonic scales. You might have been playing a diminished chord for a while without you knowing you have been doing so. How? Here is the simple trick you must learn:
“The diminished chord is always built on the seventh degree of the major scale and on the second degree of the Minor scale.”
Let us simply prove this….
If you remember,
Chord 1 = d m s = 1 3 5(Major Chord)
Chord 2 = r f l = 2 4 6(Minor Chord)
Chord 3 = m s t = 3 5 7(Minor Chord)
Chord 4 = f l d = 4 6 1(Major Chord)
Chord 5 = s t r = 5 7 2(Major Chord)
Chord 6 = l d m = 6 1 3(Minor Chord)
Chord 7 = t r f = 7 2 4(Diminished Chord)
And back to Chord 1 again.
The chord on the seventh degree of the major scale and second degree of the minor scale is always diminished, because it follows the formula: 1 b3 b5.
Now, what I want you to do is to go back there and practise! Play around with the diminished chords of ALL the keys. Make sure you get familiar with it. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments box below. 👇.
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