Transpose whole flow down 1 semitone?

My point was that if you have a C5 to G5 (the 5 indication the absolute pitch, not just relative within an octave) it’s a Perfect fifth, just as if you have G5-C5. I am repeating myself but: order doesn’t matter with absolute (reads: with a certain octave specified, or: with a particular fundamental frequency) pitches!
I never said the C would be above the G and this is an assumption made by Steven (and maybe you?)

If we don’t Talk absolute pitches, you are correct: C-G is a perfect fifth and G-C is a perfect fourth, because they are complementary intervals.
Now Cb-C is a augmented unison, therefore C-Cb has to be a diminished octave, because again: complementary intervals.

Augmenting an interval by definition increases the distance between two notes. Diminishing an interval decreases the distance. When a C-C unison becomes a C-C flat unison there is an increase in distance by a half step. Therefore it is augmented.

Here are a couple of examples that show how the distance increases in actual musical situations when either the C flat or the C is the harmonic tone and the other is a passing tone
Augmented unison example


The term “diminished unison” is not generally accepted in music theory. There are good reasons for this:

An interval is defined as the distance between two notes. It is therefore mathematically an absolute value, that cannot be less than zero.

When we ask somebody to transpose a piece, we must specify both the interval (absolute value) and the direction (up or down).

The distance between an E and the Eb next to it is an augmented unison. A transposition of a semitone from E major to Eb major is a transposition of an augmented unison, downwards.


I agree. In fact, a diminished unison downwards (if it existed) would mean everything to be transposed upwards. This doesn’t make any sense.

To elaborate on my previous post on absolute pitches and intervals. I think we all agree, that these intervals are the same, no matter the direction:

direction doesn’t change the quality of the interval!

so, why should these two be different? They shouldn’t, because that’s inconsistent with how music theory works.

Neither German nor English Wikipedia is listing diminished unisons. In fact, a diminished interval is considered to reduce the amount of half-steps of an interval. Going from a perfect unison to what Dorico calls a “diminished” unison increases the amount of half-steps (going from 0 of a perfect unison to 1)!

Please, in many aspects Dorico is trying to teach the users to use proper good practice. It shouldn’t spread wrong (or at least proofingly inconsistent) music theory, or at least use the most standard (and consistent!) way of nomenclature by default.


As a follow-up, a little quiz. Name these 6 intervals:

I used to tell my students that if they could create a diminished unison, then they needed no further education - they’d already figured out how to reduce the size of nothing to something even smaller. If one can manipulate the universe in such a way, then educational degrees probably won’t mean much :grinning:.

I think as long as we know how Dorico operates, then we can live this anomaly (I can, at any rate). I’d rather see the devs work on the really important improvements to the software. Somehow, I don’t think my request for the ability to make a decaf latte while still in Write mode will appear in 4.0…


I agree wholeheartedly with your second paragraph and have been dying to use just such an analogy as your decaf latte for years, both here and on the Finale forum. Some features are just worth developers’ time more than others.

I agree strongly. And for the same reason, the term “voice” should not be applied to whole chords just because the several notes happen to be stemmed together for convenience. It is very confusing for students and further solidifies a view of music as a bunch of static chords strung together, rather than as melodies interacting to form harmony in a dynamic way. In my opinion, the term “layer” is a much more correct term for what is more a computer concept than a musical one.

I fail to see how changing some incorrect terminology would be a drain on development time.

Incidentally, the chart of intervals in the Oxford Companion to Music (2002) p. 613 lists the diminished unison with the C natural placed first, and after it the C flat. The augmented unison has a C natural first and then C sharp after it. If we were transpose their augmented unison to the key of C flat, we get a C flat followed by a C natural.

So apparently they think that if a C sounds together with a C flat in the key of C, it is called a diminished unison, but if a C flat sounds together with a C in the key of C flat it is called an augmented unison!


Thanks for the continued feedback on the vexed topic of diminished unisons. I think there are certainly different schools of thought in this, or perhaps I was unlucky with my teachers (and others in the team, too, though we’ve definitely debated it).

In any case, I’ve done some more reading on the subject and I have concluded that it’s certainly not the majority view that there is such a thing as a diminished unison, so I concede. We will look into changing the way Dorico presents this kind of transposition in its Transpose dialog in future such that you cannot choose Diminished as the quality when transposing by a unison; it’s not a trivial change because Dorico currently shows the same options for unisons and octaves, and (I hope I’m on safer ground here, but I start to question everything I thought I knew) a diminished octave is a valid interval.

I can’t say for sure when we’ll be able to take care of this, but I’ll make sure it gets added to the backlog.


For myself, this is great to hear. However, there may be more urgent issues to solve/resolve, and you guys should certainly attend to those first. As long we know how and what to do, we can wait for this. I assume that nothing is easy to fix/change.


I’ve augmented my theory knowledge, and diminished my lack of said knowledge. Hope that’s not redundant!


But it is possible to be augminished and demented simultaneously.


Thank you, Daniel. I can imagine the problem with having to differentiate between unisons and octaves.
Might I make another small suggestion concerning the Transpose dialog? Don’t most people think in terms of intervals when transposing? If so, it would seem more logical to select the interval first and then the quality. Seeing quality before interval tripped me up when first using Dorico and it still doesn’t feel logical.


I would add that the first thing to set is up or down! I know English spells it differently but it’s actually the first thing to define, no matter what language you use, since some transpositions do not work the other way round. But hey, I’d rather have you work on new stuff than on this, even if it’s worth correcting it.
Daniel, thank you so much for your last post. It proves how valuable as a music specialist and a human being you are.


I agree on all counts!

Thanks! Yes, a diminished octave is certainly a valid interval. and needs to stay there.

French musicians know a thing or two about intervals, if they’ve been through the traditional Solfège training with seven clefs and every possible transposition imaginable. Here’s an extract from a French book on the subject:

Eléments de base pour comprendre le solfège

There’s a very complete list of intervals, with not only augmented and diminished octaves, but even doubly augmented and doubly diminished ones. And that extremely rare beast, a doubly augmented unison (unisson sur augmenté). I have never had to transpose by a doubly augmented unison, but I suppose it could happen, if you needed to transpose from C# major to Cb major. I just tried this with Dorico: you can do it, if you use the “calculate interval” function. Dorico then puts “n/a” as Quality.

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The Oxford Companion is making the mistake of considering “augment” to mean “move up” and “diminish” to mean “move down”. If the interval from C to the Cb immediately below it is a diminished unison, then by the same logic the interval between C and the Fb immediately below it is a diminished 5th…


Why not allowing both transpositions: a diminished unison and an augmented unison downwards. Everyone will be happy and one will hardly notice the other option, if he (or she) ist looking only in one direction …

No they won’t :anguished:


thank you so much! I highly appreciate the commitment to these details. I truly believe this is what makes dorico such an terrific experience, from the first time you open the program and continuing through the everyday use of it.