December 2020 Assignment

Diminished chords

If you think of your songs as musical paintings, diminished chords can produce the nuances between the reds and the purples, or suggest the time of day through specific shades of gray. 

Usually used as a step in a progression — walking up or down between chords —  a diminished chord is simply a chord with two minor thirds above the root. For example, a C major includes notes C (the root), E (the third), and G (the fifth). A diminished C triad includes the notes C, Eb, and Gb.

To put that in sounds that everyone understands, among the links below find the use of diminished chords in The Beatles “Yesterday” and “Michelle.”

Darlene Thompson
Dec. 2020
A theory book would tell you that there are two types of diminished chords: half-diminished and
fully diminished.
A HALF-DIMINISHED chord is a root, a minor third, a diminished fifth, and a diminished seventh.
A FULLY DIMINISHED chord is a root, a minor third, a diminished fifth, and a minor seventh.
If this sounds Greek to you, here’s a simple explanation:
A MAJOR CHORD is made up of the first, third, and fifth notes of a major scale.
The C MAJOR SCALE is C D E F G A B C (Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do).
The root (the first note of the scale) is C. The third is E, and the fifth is G. So a C MAJOR CHORD
is C E G.
Now, if you flat the third note of the scale (lower it a half-step; a half-step on the guitar is one fret to
the left or right), you get C Eb G. This is a MINOR CHORD.
If you also flat the fifth note of the scale, you have C Eb Gb. This is a DIMINISHED CHORD, or
DIMINISHED TRIAD (a triad is a three-note chord).
To go a little deeper, to make a half-diminished chord, you add the seventh note of the scale, flatted.
C Eb Gb Bb.
To make a fully diminished chord, you add the seventh note of the scale, but lower it another half
step. C Eb Gb Bbb (B double flat is the same as A, but we call it Bbb because it has to be the
seventh note of the scale, not the sixth.
To add to the confusion, in guitar music, the half diminished chord is often called a minor chord
with a flat 5. Example: Cm7 (b5).
Here’s something I found interesting: the following chart shows the structure of diminished chords.
These triads all have the same structure, except they are on different frets.
The first one, (1) is a C diminished chord: C Eb Gb Bbb.
But get this: it is also an A diminished chord; A C Eb Gb. (A is the same as Bbb).
With an alternate spelling, it is also an F# diminished chord: F# (same as Gb) A C Eb
And one more: it’s also an Eb diminished chord! Eb Gb Bbb Dbb (Dbb is the same as C).
The Second chord shown (2) is similar, except everything is moved up a half step. So the four
chords are C# (or Db) – C# E G Bb;
Bb (same as A#) – Bb Db Fb (same as E) Abb (same as G)
E – E G Bb Db; and
G – G Bb Db Fb
The third diagram (3) is these chords:
D- D F Ab Cb (same as B)
B – B D F Ab
F – F Ab Cb Ebb (same as F)
Ab – Ab Cb Ebb Gbb

What is a diminished chord and how to use them

Songs with diminished chords

Diminished chord video for guitar

Basics of diminished chords on the guitar

Guitar Lesson World: Diminished chords

Images for diminished chords for guitar