These are both of discordant nature, the diminished fourth always so; but if a major sixth be added below the bass note of the diminished fifth it is considered to modify the discordance so far as to admit of its being used as a concord. This rule is of old standing, especially in regard to the occurrence of the chord diatonically, as (e) in the key of C, which was admitted in the strict old style where discords were excluded. Of intervals which are changeable into major or minor the diminished seventh is the commonest, (f), which is a semitone less than the ordinary minor seventh (g), according to the rule above given. The complete chord, which is commonly known as that of the 'diminished seventh,' (h), is properly speaking an inversion of a chord of the minor ninth, (i). It occurs with remarkable
frequency in modern music, part of its popularity no doubt arising from the singular facilities for modulation which it affords. For the notes of which it is composed being at equal distances from one another, any one of them can be chosen at will to stand as minor ninth to the root which is understood. Thus the above chord might be written in either of the following ways—
in which D♭, F♭, and G are respectively the minor ninths to C, E♭, and F♯, the absent root notes, and could pass into as many different keys as those root notes could serve, either as dominant, tonic, or supertonic. [See Change, Modulation.] The chord of the diminished third, as (k), occurs in music as the inversion of the chord of the augmented sixth, as (l). It has such a strongly
marked character of its own that great composers seem agreed to reserve it for special occasions. Bach uses it with powerful effect at the end of the 'Crucifixus' in his B minor Mass, and Beethoven in the chorus to the same words in his 'Missa Solennis.'
DIMINUENDO. Lessening the tone from loud to soft; employed indiscriminately with decrescendo. Expressed by dim. or dimin., and by the sign
DIMINUTION, in Counterpoint, is the repetition of a subject or figure in notes of less value than in its original statement, as—
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.
DINORAH. The original and Italian title of Meyerbeer's opera which was brought out in Paris (Opéra Comique, April 4, 1859) as 'Le Pardon de Ploermel'—Cabel as Dinorah. Dinorah was produced, with recitatives by Meyerbeer, and under his own direction, at Covent Garden July 26, 1859, in 3 acts, with Miolan Carvalho as the heroine; and in English in the autumn of the same year at Drury Lane by Pyne and Harrison.
DIRECT. A mark (
) to be found in music up to the present century at the end of a page, and even of a line, to warn the performer of the note at the beginning of the next page or line, like the catchword at the foot of a page, formerly universal, and still retained in the Quarterly Review. Thus
indicates that the first note of the next line will be G.
DIRECT MOTION is the progression of parts or voices in a similar direction, as—
As a matter of contrapuntal effect it is weaker and less effective than Contrary Motion, which see.
DIS. The German term for D♯, and also, according to a curious former Viennese custom, for E♭. The Eroica Symphony was announced at Clement's concert April 7, 1805 (its first performance), and at Meier's concert, 1808, as 'in Dis.' Des is the term for D♭.
DISCANT, dis-cantus, a double song; originally the melody or 'counterpoint' sung with a plain-song; thence the upper voice or leading melody in a piece of part-music; and thence the canto, cantus, or soprano voice, which was formerly—as late as Mendelssohn, who used to say he had learnt it from Zelter—written in the C clef.
Thus in earlier English the word 'discant' or 'descant' means an air:
'And sprightly voice sweet descant sing.'
And the violin, because it took the upper part in the quartet, was called the 'diskant- Violin.'
DISCORD is a combination of notes which produces a certain restless craving in the mind for some further combination upon which it can rest with satisfaction.
Discords comprise such chords as contain notes which are next to each other in alphabetical order, and such as have augmented or diminished intervals, with the exception in the latter case of