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Diminished third

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Title: Diminished third  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Interval (music), List of pitch intervals, Major Locrian scale, Interval ratio, Pythagorean interval
Collection: Diminished Intervals, Thirds (Music)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Diminished third

diminished third
Inverse augmented sixth
Other names -
Abbreviation d3[1]
Semitones 2
Interval class 2
Just interval 144:125,[2] 256:225[3]
Equal temperament 200
Just intonation 245, 223, 231
Diminished third About this sound Play  .

In classical music from Western culture, a diminished third (About this sound Play  ) is the musical interval produced by narrowing a minor third by a chromatic semitone.[1][4] 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, two semitones wide. Being diminished, it is considered a dissonant interval.[5]

In equal temperament a diminished third is enharmonic with the major second, both having a value of 200 cents. However in meantone tunings with fifths flatter than the 700 cents of equal temperament, the diminished third is wider than the major second. In 19 equal temperament it is in fact enharmonically equivalent to an augmented second, both having a value of 252.6 cents. In 31 equal temperament it has a more typical value of 232.3 cents. In a twelve-note keyboard tuned in a meantone tuning from E to G, the dimininished third appears between C and E, and again between G and B.

In septimal meantone temperament the diminished third is considered to approximate the interval of a septimal major second (About this sound play  ), with ratio 8/7, and in any meantone tuning in the vicinity of quarter-comma meantone, such as 31-equal temperament, it will come close to that value; for instance in 31-equal temperament the diminished third is a cent sharp of 8/7.

The complementary interval to the diminished third is the augmented sixth, and the numerous chords of common practice music described as augmented sixth chords thereby contain the diminished third as well. For example, a German sixth chord E-G-B-C-E' exhibits a diminished third between C and E' which complements the augmented sixth between E and C.

The just diminished third arises in the extended C major scale between F and A,[6] About this sound Play   and between B and D.

See also


  1. ^ a b Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p.54. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
  2. ^ Haluska, Jan (2003). The Mathematical Theory of Tone Systems, p.xxvi. ISBN 0-8247-4714-3. Classic diminished third.
  3. ^ Haluska, ibid. Diminished third.
  4. ^ Hoffmann, F.A. (1881). Music: Its Theory & Practice, p.89-90. Thurgate & Sons. Digitized Aug 16, 2007.
  5. ^ Benward & Saker (2003), p.92.
  6. ^ Paul, Oscar (1885). A manual of harmony for use in music-schools and seminaries and for self-instruction, p.165. Theodore Baker, trans. G. Schirmer.
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