Diminished Triads

‘Viol’ may be a simple track, but there’s a clever melodic trick hidden in the bassline. As we saw earlier, the melody comprises a G, a Bb and a Db. These notes together form a diminished triad, which is basically a minor triad with the 5th flattened.

The implied diminished chord contributes to the almost sinister melodic feel of the track. The flattened 5th (in this case the Db) is, on its own, a melodically dissonant interval. Together with the minor 3rd , Bb, it forms a diminished triad, which we can hear and see below:

Diminished Triad

For a further example of diminished triads in action, and the interesting feel they can add to dance music, check out ‘Let There Be Light’ by Justice:

The second and third chords in the progression are a C diminished triad and a Bb diminished triad.

The diminished triad is used to great effect in ‘Viol’, contributing hugely to the feel of the track. A similar effect can also be heard in the bassline of Gesaffelstein’s ‘Control Movement’.


Finally, even though it’s not present in the version found on the EP, it’s worth quickly discussing the atonal sawtooth bass which opens the Ghostrider edit of ‘Viol’, never settling on one note. We can hear a great example of the potential effect atonality can have in the work of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Listen to the atonality in the rising/falling strings of ‘De Natura Sonoris’ below:

The lack of a clearly defined pitch in the synth sounds which open the Ghostrider edit add a sense of unease to the intro. This is echoed in the falling synths which are introduced at 1:03, giving a similarly unsettling feel.

If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.

Author Oliver Curry
7th February, 2013

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