Definition of diatonic in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌdʌɪəˈtɒnɪk/


1(Of a scale, interval, etc.) involving only notes proper to the prevailing key without chromatic alteration.
Example sentences
  • Harmonically, the added notes are needed to provide a major or minor triad for each note of the diatonic scale.
  • In music, India gave to the world her system of notation, with the seven cardinal notes and the diatonic scale, all of which we enjoyed as early as 350 B.C., while it came to Europe only in the eleventh century.
  • As Hanon's The Virtuoso Pianist exercises strengthen the fingers through varying linear progressions, Jazz Chord Hanon moves sequentially through diatonic and chromatic scales and progressions from three through five voices.
1.1(Of a melody or harmony) constructed from a diatonic scale.
Example sentences
  • There is little dramatic impulse, but, especially when sung in German, the solo music is reminiscent of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in its simple direct melody and clear diatonic harmony.
  • There is dissonance, beautiful dissonance, mixed with more diatonic harmony.
  • Over two massive sections - with the second encompassing an evocative slow movement and a dramatic finale - the argument is based on two contrasted motifs that, with satisfying logic, resolve at the end in a warmly diatonic melody.


Early 17th century (denoting a tetrachord divided into two tones and a lower semitone, or ancient Greek music based on this): from French diatonique, or via late Latin from Greek diatonikos 'at intervals of a tone', from dia 'through' + tonos 'tone'.

Words that rhyme with diatonic

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For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dia|ton¦ic

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