Diminution, from Italian diminuimento, is a musical term used to mean different things in the context of melodies and intervals or chords.
A melody or series of notes is diminished if the lengths of the notes are shortened (this is opposed to augmentation, where the notes are lengthened). A melody originally consisting of four crotchets (quarter-notes) for example, is diminished if it later appears with four quavers (eighth-notes) instead. This technique is often used in contrapuntal music. It gives rise to the "canon in diminution", in which the notes in the following voice are shorter than those in the leading.
In Schenkerian analysis a diminution is a division, rather than a diminishing is a prolongation or expansion, "the process by which an interval formed by notes of longer value is expressed in notes of smaller value," see nonchord tone.
In music, a diminished scale is a scale in which the notes of the scale ascend in alternating intervals of a whole step and a half step.
The name diminished comes from the fact that the first, third, fifth, and seventh notes of a diminished scale for a key form the diminishedchord for that key.
Because of the half-whole symmetry, there are only three distinct diminished scales, and a given diminished scale has only two modes (one beginning its ascent with a whole step between its first two notes, while the other begins its ascent with a half step or semitone).
Diminished responsibility therefore served the purpose of avoiding a murder conviction and consequent mandatory life sentence in those cases where an offender was mentally impaired but not mentally ill, as defined under the defence of mental illness.
Diminished responsibility is an intermediate defence for those offenders whose mental impairment is not so extreme as to warrant an acquittal and consequent indefinite detention in “strict custody” in a prison or psychiatric hospital, but whose mental state is nevertheless such that they should not be convicted of murder.
In relation to diminished responsibility, therefore, it is the accused who must prove, on the balance of probabilities, that he or she suffered from diminished responsibility at the time of the unlawful killing.
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