Diminished fifth

Diminished fifth

In music theory, a diminished fifth is an interval that has six half steps (semitones). Explanations and excerpts from famous works

In music theory, a diminished fifth is an interval that has six half steps united states of america (semitones united kingdom).

The diminished fifth requires that:

  • The interval must be a fifth interval (five note names between the first and the last).
  • The interval must have six half steps.

What does a diminished fifth look like?

Here is an example of a melodic diminished fifth (two music notes in a melody) and a harmonic diminished fifth (in a chord):

diminished fifth

How to recognize a diminished fifth?

Rule of music theory: All intervals in a major scale starting with the tonic (degree I) are either major or perfect, and only unison, octave, fourth and fifth are perfect (the others are major).

Example with the interval C / G♭:

Let's take the C major scale to have as the tonic:

C major scale

From the rule stated above, the interval C / G is a perfect fifth, so the interval C / G♭ is a diminished fifth.

Inversion of the diminished fifth

The inversion of the diminished fifth is the augmented fourth.

Here is an example of an augmented fourth:

Augmented fourth

Musical examples of diminished fifth

Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) by Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns uses successive diminished fifths in his Danse Macabre (Dance of Death):

Interval identification game

You will find this interval in my Intervals identification game:

Find all my music theory games by clicking this link music theory games
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