Minor third

Minor third

In music theory, a minor third is an interval that has three half steps (semitones). Explanations and excerpts from famous works

In music theory, a minor third is an interval that has three half steps united states of america (semitones united kingdom).

The minor third requires that:

  • The interval must be a third interval (three note names between the first and the last).
  • The interval must have three half steps.

What does a minor third look like?

Here is an example of a melodic minor third (two music notes in a melody) and a harmonic minor third (in a chord):

How to recognize a minor third?

Rule of music theory: All intervals in a major scale starting with the tonic (degree I) are either major or perfect, and only unison, octave, fourth and fifth are perfect (the others are major).

Example with the interval C / E♭ :

Let's take the C major scale to have C as the tonic:

C major scale

From the rule stated above, the interval C / E♮ is a major third, so the interval C / E♭ is a minor third.

Inversion of the minor third

The inversion of the minor third is the major sixth.

Here is an example of a major sixth:

Musical examples of minor third

Guten abend, gute Nacht (lullaby) by Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms' lullaby (Guten abend, gute Nacht in German) has many minor thirds:


The traditional English song Greensleeves has a many minor thirds:

Interval identification game

You will find this interval in my Intervals identification game:

Find all my music theory games by clicking this link music theory games
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