Creating a diminished unison


Hello everyone,I came across a small issue while I was creating a diminished unison…dorico is not letting me putting a flat on the second C, is letting me on first one only…any help would be appreciated!

We are likely going to need to see the project. I have no problems adding accidentals:

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Can you share a Dorico file with the attempted “diminished unison” (which I frame as a descending augmented unison, since I can’t conceptualize anything smaller than 0 semitones in 12-pitch-class space.) [edit: …or any pitch-space, for that matter.]


Adding more than one note it’s different, cause it let’s you putting a flat…what im saying is, an interval of two notes only like the pic i uploaded

I don’t see a notation or engraving option to achieve what you want but adding a natural sign to the first C natural would position the flat where you want it and might actually be helpful and more clear.

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@Leddie , do I understand correctly from your second image that you want this notated as a dyad rather than successive pitches (as in your first image)?

If so, I tried it out in Dorico by entering C and B, then respelling the B (option-+ on Mac OS). I can only get the C-flat to show first (which then automatically shows the natural sign on the second note, of course):

Screenshot 2024-06-13 at 12.07.51 PM

However, entering the C then adding a second voice and entering B:
Screenshot 2024-06-13 at 12.13.46 PM
Screenshot 2024-06-13 at 12.13.58 PM

and then respelling the B might give you what you want:
Screenshot 2024-06-13 at 12.14.09 PM

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Thanks judddanby!
I try one of your last examples,it might be good…thanks

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Thanks for your help lafin!

Thanks, your first image indicated separate notes. However, in my mind, diminished/augmented unisons seem obscure. It’s clear what an augmented vs diminished octave is but when inverted to unisons they become something else - I propose a term borrowed from physics - the degenerate unison:

You are correct. Whether one raises or lowers a perfect unison by a half step (raising the ceiling or lowering the floor), the size of the perfect unison is increased.


Moving away from notation/Dorico-specific matters to the theoretical:

If you like this sort of theoretical discussion:

@tbabcock123 , while I’m not constitutionally opposed to degeneracy, it seems that the existing term augmented (rather than “degenerate”) unison works perfectly for the diminished octaves shown (formula: top down 8vb or bottom note 8va; octaves ⇆ unisons, augmented ⇆ diminished).

The problematic issue seems to arise when the order is reversed (augmented octaves). Calling C♯to C♮an ascending unison — whether “diminished” or "degenerate — and not simply a descending augmented unison is conceptually strange (indeed, the sort of strangeness that modern physics is used to tackling), since we’re talking about relationships of frequencies heard by us.

The (ahem) root of the problem is that “unisons” are, within the diatonic-based notation of lines and spaces, “1s” rather than “0s,” so we’re up against a linguistic/semantic wall, but not one related meaningfully to aural perception.

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Love the metaphor, @laughreyg !

I agree. I tend to call what I termed ‘degenerate’ unisons as augmented unisons. But that brings up a conundrum since in all cases NOT involving unisons the inversion of augmented or diminished intervals results in duality - augmented to diminished and vice-versa. Since the augmented octave inverts to an augmented unison and the diminished octave inverts to an augmented unison the term ‘degenerate’ seems appropriate. We are, in a sense, inside the black hole of musical theory. I guess it all comes down to how many degenerate unisons can dance on the head of a pin.

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There are no perfect unisons :innocent:

@arnberg , you’ve attended or directed a young musicians ensemble rehearsal, I see….


@tbabcock123 , “who you callin’ a pin-head…???” :wink: :smiley:

(Hey, I’ve been called worse…!)

I see your point about the “strange” dualism when they’re both collapsed down to some kind of unison.

Maybe, to extend the cross-domain mapping, we should go with spin-up augmented unison for C♮- up-to-C♯(notated |↑〉1) and spin-down augmented unison for C♯- “strange-up”-to-C♮ (|↓〉1).

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Hi @Leddie
There is a way to obtain what you showed in you second screenshot. Even if it looks a little weird/unclear, I nevertheless tried to reproduce it, as an exercise.

Here the four steps:

  1. write the C natural in Up-stem voice 1 and the Cb in Down-stem voice 1:

  2. Hide the natural accidental:

  3. Move the Cb (it is the note on the right) to the right, to make place for the b:

  4. Set the accidental X offset for the b:

Result (narrowing some of the previous adjustments):

As a reminder, there is a nice function that consent to Swap Voice Contents (or also Swap Voice Order). So you can invert the content of the two voices (or reposition their order), without needing your mentioned respelling workaround:

CleanShot 2024-06-13 at 23.20.02

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Great thread here -I myself just got through grokking what the heck a diminshed second is, so it seems to me like a diminshed unison is fancy-pants talk for nothing more than a semitone interval (but keep the staff position)… :grinning: