• Unleashed: The Power Of Third Intervals Like Never Before

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    The power of third intervals will be unleashed in this lesson and you’ll be able to apply them like never before.

    If you don’t know much about third intervals, or you’re coming across the term third interval for the first time, you’re still on the right page because we’re getting started in the next segment with a short note on third intervals.

    The goal of this lesson is to portray third intervals as one of the most important intervals in music with emphasis on the aspect of chord formation.

    Alright! Let’s get started.

    “What Are Third Intervals?”

    A third interval can be described as the distance between two notes that are three alphabet letters apart from each other.

    For example, C and E:

    …can be described as a third interval because C and E are three alphabet letters apart from each other:

    C (first alphabet letter), D (second alphabet letter), and E (third alphabet letter).

    There are three qualities of third intervals:

    The major third interval

    The minor third interval

    The diminished third interval

    The augmented third interval

    However, we’ll be focusing on the major and minor third intervals in this lesson.

    A Short Note On Major Third Intervals

    The major third interval is the distance between the first and third tone of the major scale.

    In the key of C major:

    …where C and E:

    …are the first and third tones of the major scale, playing “C-E”:

    …produces a major third interval.

    Here Are All The Major Third Intervals…”

    C-E:

    Db-F:

    D-F#:

    Eb-G:

    E-G#:

    F-A:

    F#-A#:

    G-B:

    Ab-C:

    A-C#:

    Bb-D:

    B-D#:

    Attention: Keep in mind that major third intervals encompass four half-steps.

    Minor Third Intervals — Explained

    Lowering the upper note of a major third interval by a half-step produces a minor third interval.

    Using “C-E” (which is a major third interval):

    …we can form a minor third interval by lowering the upper note of the “C-E” interval (which is E):

    …by a half-step (to Eb):

    …to produce “C-Eb”:

    …a minor third interval.

    Using any given major third interval, you can form a minor third interval by lowering the upper note of the major third interval by a half-step.

    “Check Out All The Minor Third Intervals…”

    C-Eb

    C#-E:

    D-F:

    Eb-Gb:

    E-G:

    F-Ab:

    F#-A:

    G-Bb:

    G#-B:

    A-C:

    Bb-Db:

    B-D:

    Attention: Minor third intervals encompass three half-steps.

    Unleashing The Power Of Third Intervals

    Third intervals are very powerful in the formation of chords: triads, seventh, and extended chords.

    This is because you can literally add as many third intervals as possible to form a variety of chords. However, you’ll need a scale reference.

    Using the scale reference, all you need to do is to select notes in third intervals: as many notes as possible. But, always remember that three notes produces a triad, four notes produces a seventh chord, while five to seven notes produces extended chords.

    Let’s take a few examples.

    Example #1 — “Natural Major Scale”

    Using the natural major scale as a reference, anyone can form triads, seventh, and extended chords.

    In the case of the C major scale:

    …we can stack notes in third intervals starting from the first tone of the scale which is C:

    A third above C is E:

    A third above E is G:

    A third above G is B:

    A third above B is D:

    A third above D is F:

    A third above F is A:

    Stacking all the third intervals we derived produces the C major thirteenth chord:

    The first three notes (which are C, E, and G):

    …produces the C major triad.

    The first four notes (which are C, E, G, and B):

    …produces the C major seventh chord.

    The first five notes (which are C, E, G, B, and D):

    …produces the C major ninth chord.

    “That’s The Power Of Third Intervals…”

    The more thirds you add, the bigger and more sophisticated the chord becomes. So, you can practically turn a triad into an extended chord using third intervals.

    C major triad > C major seventh chord > C major ninth chord > etc

    Attention: As we move from the natural major scale to other scale types, we’ll see how third intervals form other scale types: minor, diminished, augmented, dominant, etc.

    Example #2 — “Natural Minor Scale”

    In the case of the natural minor scale, we’ll be using the C natural minor scale (as a reference):

    A third above C is Eb:

    A third above Eb is G:

    A third above G is Bb:

    A third above Bb is D:

    A third above D is F:

    A third above F is A:

    When all the third intervals are played together, this produces the C minor thirteenth chord:

    The first three notes (which are C, Eb, and G):

    …produces the C minor triad.

    The first four notes (which are C, Eb, G, and Bb):

    …produces the C minor seventh chord.

    The first five notes (which are C, Eb, G, Bb, and D):

    …produces the C minor ninth chord.

    “That’s Not All…”

    You can practically turn a triad into an extended chord using third intervals.

    C minor triad > C minor seventh chord > C minor ninth chord > etc

    Example #3 — “Lydian Augmented Scale”

    In the first two examples, we came across major and minor chords.

    In this third example, we’re proceeding to the Lydian augmented scale which is the third mode of the melodic minor scale.

    For example, playing the A melodic minor scale:

    …from C to C:

    …produces the C Lydian augmented scale:

    “Using The Lydian Augmented Scale We Can Form Augmented Chords…”

    A third above C is E:

    A third above E is G#:

    A third above G# is B:

    A third above B is D:

    A third above D is F#:

    A third above F# is A:

    When all the third intervals are played together, this produces the C augmented major thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    The first three notes (which are C, E, and G#):

    …produces the C augmented triad.

    The first four notes (which are C, E, G#, and B):

    …produces the C augmented major seventh chord.

    The first five notes (which are C, E, G#, B, and D):

    …produces the C augmented major ninth chord.

    “That’s Not All…”

    You can practically turn a triad into an extended chord using third intervals.

    C augmented triad > C augmented major seventh chord > C augmented major ninth chord > etc

    Final Words

    Time would fail me to make examples out of all the modes and modal scales.

    But be rest assured that using most scales that have seven tones per 0ctave, you can form triads, seventh, and extended chords using third intervals and this makes third intervals very useful in the formation of chords.

    So, I want to recommend that you go ahead and learn as many scales as possible and use them to form chords and let’s see how many triads, seventh chords, and extended chords you can possibly come up with.

    I’ll see you in the next lesson where we’ll be learning about fifth intervals.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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