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The Combination of Harmony and Counterpoint (cont.)
Back to Introduction | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Diminution (Part I)
As mentioned in the Introduction to this section. Schenker used the basic principles of consonance and dissonance from species counterpoint in order to identify a number of common linear units that he calls diminutions. His analyses, at their most simple level, show how these linear units prolong harmonic units.

A theme and variations is probably the most familiar example of diminution. Often in this genre, a composer uses a simple theme to support increasingly complex figurations. Each variation is different but the whole work is unified by the presence of the theme beneath the surface of the music.

Bearing in mind the four different types of diminution discussed in this section (see introduction), can you work what familiar tune is being varied here (it is only the first two lines)?

Click on the example for more explanation