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Encyclopedia > Major and minor

In music, the adjectives major and minor can describe a scale, key, chord, or interval. For intervals, the terms refer to a difference in their relative width, major referring to notes somewhat further apart; the other terms are classifications based on the use of certain intervals, especially the major or minor third. For other uses, see Music (disambiguation). ... In music, a scale is a set of musical notes that provides material for part or all of a musical work. ... In music theory, the key identifies the tonic triad, the chord, major or minor, which represents the final point of rest for a piece, or the focal point of a section. ... Typical fingering for a second inversion C major chord on a guitar. ... In music theory, the term interval describes the difference in pitch between two notes. ...


Major and minor are frequently referred to in the titles of compositions in their foreign language form, especially in reference to the key of a piece.

Language Major Minor
Chinese 大調 小調
Danish Dur Mol
Dutch Majeur Mineur
Estonian Duur Moll
Finnish Duuri Molli
French Majeur Mineur
German Dur Moll
Hungarian Dúr Moll
Icelandic Dúr Moll
Italian Maggiore Minore
Japanese 長調 短調
Korean 장조 단조
Macedonian Дур Мол
Norwegian Dur Moll
Polish Dur Mol
Portuguese Maior Menor
Romanian Major Minor
Spanish Mayor Menor
Serbian Дур Мол
Swedish Dur Moll
Turkish Majör Minör
Vietnamese Trưởng Thứ

Contents

Intervals and chords

With regard to intervals, the words essentially just mean large and small, so a major third is a relatively wider interval, and a minor third a relatively narrow one. The intervals of the second, third, sixth, and seventh (and compound intervals based on them) may be major or minor. See Interval (music). In music theory, the term interval describes the difference in pitch between two notes. ...

Minor intervals Major intervals
minor second major second
minor third major third
minor sixth major sixth
minor seventh major seventh

The other uses of major and minor, in general, refer to musical structures containing major thirds or minor thirds. A major scale is one whose third degree is a major third above the tonic, while a minor scale has a minor third degree. A major chord or major triad, similarly, contains a major third above the root, whereas a minor chord or minor triad contains a minor third above the root. A minor second is the smallest of three commonly occuring musical intervals that span two diatonic scale degrees; the others being the major second and the augmented second, which are larger by one and two semitones respectively. ... A major second is one of three commonly occuring musical intervals that span two diatonic scale degrees; the others being the minor second, which is one semitone smaller, and the augmented second, which is one semitone larger. ... A minor third is the smaller of two commonly occurring musical intervals that span three diatonic scale degrees. ... A major third is the larger of two commonly occuring musical intervals that span three diatonic scale degrees. ... A minor sixth is the smaller of two commonly occuring musical intervals that span six diatonic scale degrees. ... The musical interval of a major sixth is the relationship between the first note (the root or tonic) and the sixth note in a Major scale. ... The musical interval of a minor seventh the first note (the root or tonic) and the seventh in a minor scale. ... The musical interval of a Major seventh the first note (the root or tonic) and the seventh, the leading tone, in a major scale. ... In music theory, the major scale is one of the diatonic scales. ... In music theory, a scale degree is the name of a particular note of a scale in relation to the tonic (the first note in the scale). ... The tonic is the first note of a musical scale, and in the tonal method of music composition it is extremely important. ... A minor scale in musical theory is a diatonic scale whose third scale degree is an interval of a minor third above the tonic. ... Generally speaking, a major chord is any chord which has a major third above its root, as opposed to a minor chord which has a minor third. ... Generally speaking, a major chord is any chord which has a major third above its root, as opposed to a minor chord which has a minor third. ... The root (basse fondamentale) of a chord is the note upon which that chord is perceived or labelled as built or centered, the root of a chord in root position or normal form. ... Generally speaking, a minor chord is any chord which has a minor third above its root, as opposed to a major chord which has a major third. ... Generally speaking, a minor chord is any chord which has a minor third above its root, as opposed to a major chord which has a major third. ...


Major and minor scales

The minor scale may be considered as the sixth mode of a major scale or as a variation of the major scale having a lowered or altered third, sixth, and seventh scale degrees. In music alteration, an example of chromaticism, is the use of a neighboring pitch in the chromatic scale in place of its diatonic neighbor such as in an altered chord. ... In music, see the following intervals: Major third Minor third The mediant, and the chord built on the mediant, is often called simply the third, as it is the third degree of the diatonic scale. ... In music, see the intervals: Major sixth Minor sixth The submediant, and the chord built on the submediant, is often simply called the sixth as it is the sixth scale degree. ... In music, see the intervals: seventh, musical group Major seventh minor seventh diminished seventh The note of a chord forming any of the above intervals with the chords root. ... In music or music theory a scale degree is an individual note of a scale, both its pitch and its diatonic function. ...


The minor third is considered the hallmark of a minor scale, since the sixth and seventh may be variably raised while the third remains unaltered. Contrastingly, changes of mode, which would involve the alteration of the third, and mode mixture, are often analyzed as relatively minor or trivial changes unless structurally supported as the root and overall key and tonality remains relatively unchanged when compared to, for instance, modulation or transposition. These latter operations are done by moving all intervals up or down a certain constant interval, and does change key, but does not change mode, which requires the alteration of intervals. The use of triads only available in the minor mode, such as the use of A♭-major in C major, is relatively decorative chromaticism, considered to add color and weaken sense of key without entirely destroying or losing it. A minor third is the smaller of two commonly occurring musical intervals that span three diatonic scale degrees. ... In music mode mixture is the use of pitches or chords from the parallel minor or major scale or key of a piece or section. ... In music, modulation is most commonly the act or process of changing from one key (tonic, or tonal center) to another. ... In music transposition refers to the process of moving a collection of notes (pitches) up or down in pitch by a constant interval. ... In music theory, the key identifies the tonic triad, the chord, major or minor, which represents the final point of rest for a piece, or the focal point of a section. ... In music, a mode is an ordered series of musical intervals, which, along with the key or tonic, define the pitches. ... In music or music theory, a triad is a tonal or diatonic tertian trichord. ... In music, chromatic indicates the inclusion of notes not in the prevailing scale and is also used for those notes themselves (Shir-Cliff et al 1965, p. ...


In the German theory by or derived from Hugo Riemann, the minor mode is considered the inverse of the major mode, an upside down major scale based on (theoretical) undertones rather than (actual) overtones (harmonics). The "root" of the minor triad is thus considered the top of the fifth, which, in the United States, is called "the" fifth. So in C minor, the tonic root is actually G, and the leading tone is A♭ (a halfstep), rather than, in major, the root being C and the leading tone B (a halfstep). Also, since all chords are analyzed as having a tonic, subdominant, or dominant function, with, for instance, in C, A-minor being considered the tonic parallel (US relative), Tp, the use of minor mode root chord progressions in major such as A♭-major-B♭-major-C-major is analyzed as sP-dP-T, the minor subdominant parallel, the minor dominant parallel, and the major tonic. (Gjerdingen, 1990) Dr. Hugo Riemann (full name: Karl Wilhelm Julius Hugo Riemann) (July 18, 1849 - July 10, 1919) was a German musicologist. ... In acoustics and telecommunication, the harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. ... The root (basse fondamentale) of a chord is the note upon which that chord is perceived or labelled as built or centered, the root of a chord in root position or normal form. ... In music theory, the subdominant parallel is terminology used in German theory derived mainly from Hugo Riemann, Sp, in major, and sP, in minor, is the (US) relative to the subdominant and is thus considered to have or fulfill the function of the subdominant. ... In music theory, the dominant parallel is terminology used in German theory derived mainly from Hugo Riemann, Dp, in major, and dP, in minor, is the (US) relative to the dominant and is thus considered to have or fulfill the function of the dominant. ...


Minor scales are sometimes said to have a more interesting, possibly sadder sound than plain major scales. The minor mode, with its variable sixth and seventh degrees, offers nine notes, in C: C-D-E♭-F-G-A♭-A-B♭-B, over the major mode's seven, in C: C-D-E-F-G-A-B. The interval strength, or lowest possible location in the harmonic series, and thus consonance and "stability", of minor triads is less than that of major, which interprets major as more "stable", a major triad being found in the 4th, 5th, and 6th harmonics of a pitch, while the minor being the 10th, 12th, and 15th. This may explain the Picardy third, the use of a major tonic chord at the very end of a composition in minor, since it would be more stable and thus conclusive. There are two types of minor, harmonic, and melodic. Harmonic minor scales have their 7th note raised a semitone, both ascending and descending. In melodic scales, the 6th and 7th note ascending is raised a semitone, and descending, the 6th and 7th notes are normal. In music theory, an interval is the difference (a ratio or logarithmic measure) in pitch between two notes and often refers to those two notes themselves (otherwise known as a dyad). ... Pitched musical instruments are usually based on a harmonic oscillator such as a string or a column of air. ... Consonance is a stylistic device, often used in poetry. ... A Picardy third (also known as Tierce de Picardie) is a harmonic device used in European classical music. ...

C D E F G A B C
1 9/8 5/4 4/3 3/2 5/3 15/8 2

See also

In music, the relative minor of a particular major key (or the relative major of a minor key) is the key which has the same key signature but a different tonic, as opposed to parallel minor or major, respectively. ... In music, the parallel minor of a particular major key (or the parallel major of a minor key) is the key which has the same tonic and a different key signature, as opposed to relative minor (or major, respectively). ... For information on major/minor tonality, see Tonality or Major and minor // This term is used to refer to a musical composition that begins in a major key and ends in a minor key (generally the tonic minor), specifying the keynote (as C major/minor). ...

External links

  • Proper fingering of the major and minor scales on the piano

 
 

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