Music theory is a vast subject that encompasses different concepts and technicalities. One of the most intriguing yet complex concepts in music theory is ‘diminished’. In this article, we will explore what it means to be ‘diminished’ in music theory and how it affects the overall composition.

What is Diminished?

In music theory, ‘diminished’ refers to a specific type of chord or interval that creates a dissonant sound. It is considered the opposite of ‘augmented,’ which creates a more harmonious sound.

A diminished chord is composed of three notes that are separated by minor thirds. The intervals between the notes are evenly spaced, creating a symmetrical sound.

Diminished Chords

A diminished chord is made up of three notes – the root note, flat third, and flat fifth. For example, if we take C as our root note, the diminished chord would be C diminished (Cdim) or C°.

The flat third would be Eb while the flat fifth would be Gb. The resulting sound can create tension and instability in a musical composition.

Diminished Intervals

Apart from chords, intervals can also be diminished in music theory. A diminished interval refers to an interval that is one half-step smaller than a minor interval. For example, if we take C as our starting note and move down one half-step to B, we create a diminished second interval.

Uses of Diminished Chords and Intervals

Diminished chords and intervals can be used in various ways to create tension and dissonance in a composition. They are often used as passing chords or transitional chords to add interest to a progression. Diminished intervals can be used in melodies as passing tones or to create a sense of unease.

However, it’s important to note that the use of diminished chords and intervals should be done carefully as they can easily overpower the overall sound if not used correctly.


In conclusion, ‘diminished’ is an essential concept in music theory that adds depth and complexity to a composition. Diminished chords and intervals are often used for their dissonant sound but should be used judiciously. Understanding the use of diminished chords and intervals can help a musician create unique and captivating compositions.