I have a doubt about a musical analysis that I found on an italian book. The author wrote that in the final part of the Prelude n.2 op. 40 by Sergej Bortkiewicz, there is a repetition of the tonic note (B) alternated with a "diminished fourth degree".

Now, I know what is diminished fourth but I don't understand what the author is referring to, since I can't find a diminished fourth in those bars.

In fact, I can't see neither a chord with a diminished 4th nor a diminished chord on the 4th degree of the B minor scale.

What do you think he was referring to?

There is the link with the op. 40


  • 2
    Could you post the entire quote (ideally both the original and the translation)? The additional context may be helpful.
    – Aaron
    Sep 21, 2021 at 4:42
  • 1
    If not the full quote, could you at least tell us the identifying details of the book the analysis is from — title, author/editor, date?
    – PLL
    Sep 21, 2021 at 7:47

1 Answer 1


First arrow indicates a repeated B, second arrow indicates an interesting (and quite 'outside') interval of a diminished FIFTH (not fourth) between F♯ and C♮.

I can't see what else the book might have been referring to. Is there any possibility of a misprint or error in translation? A diminished 5th is common. A diminished 4th is rarely encountered because it's almost impossible not to hear it as a major 3rd. (Like an augmented 7th, which just INSISTS on sounding like an octave!)

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  • How do you interpret that chord, especially in the previous measures, B-F#-C-E, and a passing note A# (the chord you show here seems to be a simplified echo of that one)? Something like Bphryg♮7? Sep 20, 2021 at 23:06
  • 1
    Not quite sure what note you're referring to? But if we're looking at the last beat of the preceding line, I wouldn't say the A# was a passing note. I'm seeing a dominant function (outlined by the E and A# - any chord containing that tritone in a B minor context just about has to be a dominant) over a tonic pedal. The B is an unprepared suspension - or you could count it as prepared by the preceding B an octave lower.
    – Laurence
    Sep 20, 2021 at 23:26
  • Yes, that chord... interesting! Sep 21, 2021 at 1:07
  • 1
    @user1079505 All of the Bs in that chord are participants in the B pedal tone. The A# is a chord tone. The chord itself is an augmented sixth chord CEGA# built on the bII of B minor. It follows from the preceding measure, which contains a C#dim chord (C#EGA#) — the ii chord of B minor. In essence, the chords form a melodic progression from C# to C to B.
    – Aaron
    Sep 21, 2021 at 2:47

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