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Music Theory for Computer Musicians by Michael Hewitt

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The Diminished Triad

The diminished triad is built up from two minor thirds. You can see this in the keyboard diagram in Figure 17.3. A minor third has only three semitones. Figure 17.4 shows that from B to D is three semitones, and from D to F is three semitones.

Figure 17.4. Semitone gaps in the diminished triad.

Played on its own, the diminished triad has a mysterious quality due to the interval between root and fifth—B/F—which is a diminished fifth or, when inverted, the infamous “devil’s fourth.”

This is a dissonant interval, which makes the diminished triad that uses it an unstable harmony. Indeed, there is something strange and unsettling ...

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