A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Diminution

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DIMINUTION, in Counterpoint, is the repetition of a subject or figure in notes of less value than in its original statement, as—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \relative c'' << { c2 e | g2. f4 | e2 d c1 \bar "||" } \\ { r1 r | c,4 e g4. f8 | e4 d c2 } >> }
It is a device almost confined to music of a contrapuntal character, such as fugues and canons, and is not of as frequent occurrence as augmentation, which is its converse. There is an example in Handel's chorus 'Let all the angels of God' in the Messiah; in Bach's well-known fugue in E, No. 33 in the 'Wohltemperirte Clavier'; and in the Overture to the Meistersinger by Wagner.