Minor third

Encyclopedia

In classical music

from Western culture

, a

and augmented third

s span the same number of staff positions, but consist of a different number of semitones (two and five). However, the minor third is a skip melodically.

The minor third may be derived from the harmonic series

as the interval between the fifth and sixth harmonics, or from the 19th harmonic

.

The minor third is commonly used to express sadness in music, and research has shown that this mirrors its use in speech, as a tone similar to a minor third is produced during sad speech.

The minor scale

is so named because of the presence of this interval between its tonic

and mediant

(1st and 3rd) scale degrees.

Minor chord

s too, take their name from the presence of this interval built on the chord's root

(provided that the interval of a perfect fifth

from the root is also present or implied).

A minor third in just intonation

corresponds to a pitch ratio of 6:5 or 315.64 cents. In an equal tempered tuning, a minor third is equal to three semitone

s, a ratio of 2

s narrower than the 6:5 ratio. In other meantone

tunings it is wider, and in 19 equal temperament

it is very nearly the 6:5 ratio of just intonation; in more complex schismatic temperament

s, such as 53 equal temperament

, the "minor third" is often significantly flat (being close to Pythagorean tuning

), although the "augmented second

" produced by such scales is often within ten cents of a pure 6:5 ratio. If a minor third is tuned in accordance with the fundamental of the overtone series, the result will be a ratio of 19:16, this produces an interval of 297.51 cents. The 12-TET minor third (300 cents) more closely approximates the 19-limit

(Limit (music)

) minor third 16:19 (297.51 cents, the

Other pitch ratios are given related names, the septimal minor third

with ratio 7:6 and the tridecimal minor third with ratio 13:11 in particular.

The minor third is classed as an imperfect consonance

and is considered one of the most consonant intervals after the unison

, octave

, perfect fifth

, and perfect fourth

.

Instruments in A are a minor 3rd lower than the written pitch in the concert pitch, i.e. how they are heard. Therefore, to get the written pitch, transpose the concert pitch up a

, a

32:27. It is 294.13 cents

. It is the minor third

in Pythagorean tuning

.

It can be thought of as two octave

s minus three justly tuned

fifths

. It is narrower than a justly tuned minor third

by a syntonic comma

.

Classical music

Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

from Western culture

Western culture

Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

, a

**third**is a musical interval encompassing three staff positions (see Interval (music)#Number for more details), and the**minor third**is one of two commonly occurring thirds. The**minor**quality specification identifies it as being the smallest of the two: the minor third spans three semitones, the major third four. For example, the interval from A to C is a minor third, as the note C lies three semitones above A, and there are three staff positions from A to C. DiminishedDiminished third

In classical music from Western culture, a diminished third is the musical interval produced by narrowing a minor third by a chromatic semitone. For instance, the interval from A to C is a minor third, three semitones wide, and both the intervals from A to C, and from A to C are diminished thirds,...

and augmented third

Augmented third

In classical music from Western culture, an augmented third is an interval produced by widening a major third by a chromatic semitone. For instance, the interval from C to E is a major third, four semitones wide, and both the intervals from C to E, and from C to E are augmented thirds, spanning...

s span the same number of staff positions, but consist of a different number of semitones (two and five). However, the minor third is a skip melodically.

The minor third may be derived from the harmonic series

Harmonic series (music)

Pitched musical instruments are often based on an approximate harmonic oscillator such as a string or a column of air, which oscillates at numerous frequencies simultaneously. At these resonant frequencies, waves travel in both directions along the string or air column, reinforcing and canceling...

as the interval between the fifth and sixth harmonics, or from the 19th harmonic

Harmonic series (music)

Pitched musical instruments are often based on an approximate harmonic oscillator such as a string or a column of air, which oscillates at numerous frequencies simultaneously. At these resonant frequencies, waves travel in both directions along the string or air column, reinforcing and canceling...

.

The minor third is commonly used to express sadness in music, and research has shown that this mirrors its use in speech, as a tone similar to a minor third is produced during sad speech.

The minor scale

Minor scale

A minor scale in Western music theory includes any scale that contains, in its tonic triad, at least three essential scale degrees: 1) the tonic , 2) a minor-third, or an interval of a minor third above the tonic, and 3) a perfect-fifth, or an interval of a perfect fifth above the tonic, altogether...

is so named because of the presence of this interval between its tonic

Tonic (music)

In music, the tonic is the first scale degree of the diatonic scale and the tonal center or final resolution tone. The triad formed on the tonic note, the tonic chord, is thus the most significant chord...

and mediant

Mediant

In music, the mediant is the third scale degree of the diatonic scale, being the note halfway between the tonic and the dominant. Similarly, the submediant is halfway between the tonic and subdominant...

(1st and 3rd) scale degrees.

Minor chord

Minor chord

In music theory, a minor chord is a chord having a root, a minor third, and a perfect fifth.When a chord has these three notes alone, it is called a minor triad....

s too, take their name from the presence of this interval built on the chord's root

Root (chord)

In music theory, the root of a chord is the note or pitch upon which a triadic chord is built. For example, the root of the major triad C-E-G is C....

(provided that the interval of a perfect fifth

Perfect fifth

In classical music from Western culture, a fifth is a musical interval encompassing five staff positions , and the perfect fifth is a fifth spanning seven semitones, or in meantone, four diatonic semitones and three chromatic semitones...

from the root is also present or implied).

A minor third in just intonation

Just intonation

In music, just intonation is any musical tuning in which the frequencies of notes are related by ratios of small whole numbers. Any interval tuned in this way is called a just interval. The two notes in any just interval are members of the same harmonic series...

corresponds to a pitch ratio of 6:5 or 315.64 cents. In an equal tempered tuning, a minor third is equal to three semitone

Semitone

A semitone, also called a half step or a half tone, is the smallest musical interval commonly used in Western tonal music, and it is considered the most dissonant when sounded harmonically....

s, a ratio of 2

^{1/4}:1 (about 1.189), or 300 cents, 15.64 centCent (music)

The cent is a logarithmic unit of measure used for musical intervals. Twelve-tone equal temperament divides the octave into 12 semitones of 100 cents each...

s narrower than the 6:5 ratio. In other meantone

Meantone temperament

Meantone temperament is a musical temperament, which is a system of musical tuning. In general, a meantone is constructed the same way as Pythagorean tuning, as a stack of perfect fifths, but in meantone, each fifth is narrow compared to the ratio 27/12:1 in 12 equal temperament, the opposite of...

tunings it is wider, and in 19 equal temperament

19 equal temperament

In music, 19 equal temperament, called 19-TET, 19-EDO, or 19-ET, is the tempered scale derived by dividing the octave into 19 equal steps . Each step represents a frequency ratio of 21/19, or 63.16 cents...

it is very nearly the 6:5 ratio of just intonation; in more complex schismatic temperament

Schismatic temperament

The schismatic temperament is a musical tuning system that results from tempering the schisma of 32805:32768 to a unison. It is also called the schismic temperament or Helmholtz temperament.-Comparison with other tunings:...

s, such as 53 equal temperament

53 equal temperament

In music, 53 equal temperament, called 53-TET, 53-EDO, or 53-ET, is the tempered scale derived by dividing the octave into 53 equal steps . Each step represents a frequency ratio of 21/53, or 22.6415 cents , an interval sometimes called the Holdrian comma.- History :Theoretical interest in this...

, the "minor third" is often significantly flat (being close to Pythagorean tuning

Pythagorean tuning

Pythagorean tuning is a system of musical tuning in which the frequency relationships of all intervals are based on the ratio 3:2. This interval is chosen because it is one of the most consonant...

), although the "augmented second

Augmented second

In classical music from Western culture, an augmented second is an interval produced by widening a major second by a chromatic semitone. For instance, the interval from C to D is a major second, two semitones wide, and both the intervals from C to D, and from C to D are augmented seconds, spanning...

" produced by such scales is often within ten cents of a pure 6:5 ratio. If a minor third is tuned in accordance with the fundamental of the overtone series, the result will be a ratio of 19:16, this produces an interval of 297.51 cents. The 12-TET minor third (300 cents) more closely approximates the 19-limit

Harmonic

A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, i.e. if the fundamental frequency is f, the harmonics have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f, . . . etc. The harmonics have the property that they are all periodic at the fundamental...

(Limit (music)

Limit (music)

In music theory, limit or harmonic limit is a way of characterizing the harmony found in a piece or genre of music, or the harmonies that can be made using a particular scale. The term was introduced by Harry Partch, who used it to give an upper bound on the complexity of harmony; hence the name...

) minor third 16:19 (297.51 cents, the

**nineteenth harmonic**) with only 2.49 cents error.Other pitch ratios are given related names, the septimal minor third

Septimal minor third

In music, the septimal minor third , also called the subminor third, is the musical interval exactly or approximately equal to a 7/6 ratio of frequencies. In terms of cents, it is 267 cents, a quartertone of size 36/35 flatter than a just minor third of 6/5...

with ratio 7:6 and the tridecimal minor third with ratio 13:11 in particular.

The minor third is classed as an imperfect consonance

Consonance and dissonance

In music, a consonance is a harmony, chord, or interval considered stable, as opposed to a dissonance , which is considered to be unstable...

and is considered one of the most consonant intervals after the unison

Unison

In music, the word unison can be applied in more than one way. In general terms, it may refer to two notes sounding the same pitch, often but not always at the same time; or to the same musical voice being sounded by several voices or instruments together, either at the same pitch or at a distance...

, octave

Octave

In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

, perfect fifth

Perfect fifth

In classical music from Western culture, a fifth is a musical interval encompassing five staff positions , and the perfect fifth is a fifth spanning seven semitones, or in meantone, four diatonic semitones and three chromatic semitones...

, and perfect fourth

Perfect fourth

In classical music from Western culture, a fourth is a musical interval encompassing four staff positions , and the perfect fourth is a fourth spanning five semitones. For example, the ascending interval from C to the next F is a perfect fourth, as the note F lies five semitones above C, and there...

.

Instruments in A are a minor 3rd lower than the written pitch in the concert pitch, i.e. how they are heard. Therefore, to get the written pitch, transpose the concert pitch up a

**minor 3rd**.## Pythagorean minor third

In music theoryMusic theory

Music theory is the study of how music works. It examines the language and notation of music. It seeks to identify patterns and structures in composers' techniques across or within genres, styles, or historical periods...

, a

**semiditone**(or**Pythagorean minor third**) is the intervalInterval (music)

In music theory, an interval is a combination of two notes, or the ratio between their frequencies. Two-note combinations are also called dyads...

32:27. It is 294.13 cents

Cent (music)

The cent is a logarithmic unit of measure used for musical intervals. Twelve-tone equal temperament divides the octave into 12 semitones of 100 cents each...

. It is the minor third

Minor third

In classical music from Western culture, a third is a musical interval encompassing three staff positions , and the minor third is one of two commonly occurring thirds. The minor quality specification identifies it as being the smallest of the two: the minor third spans three semitones, the major...

in Pythagorean tuning

Pythagorean tuning

Pythagorean tuning is a system of musical tuning in which the frequency relationships of all intervals are based on the ratio 3:2. This interval is chosen because it is one of the most consonant...

.

It can be thought of as two octave

Octave

In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

s minus three justly tuned

Just intonation

In music, just intonation is any musical tuning in which the frequencies of notes are related by ratios of small whole numbers. Any interval tuned in this way is called a just interval. The two notes in any just interval are members of the same harmonic series...

fifths

Perfect fifth

In classical music from Western culture, a fifth is a musical interval encompassing five staff positions , and the perfect fifth is a fifth spanning seven semitones, or in meantone, four diatonic semitones and three chromatic semitones...

. It is narrower than a justly tuned minor third

Minor third

In classical music from Western culture, a third is a musical interval encompassing three staff positions , and the minor third is one of two commonly occurring thirds. The minor quality specification identifies it as being the smallest of the two: the minor third spans three semitones, the major...

by a syntonic comma

Syntonic comma

In music theory, the syntonic comma, also known as the chromatic diesis, the comma of Didymus, the Ptolemaic comma, or the diatonic comma is a small comma type interval between two musical notes, equal to the frequency ratio 81:80, or around 21.51 cents...

.