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Major and Minor

In Western interval.

Major and minor are frequently referred to in the titles of classical compositions, especially in reference to the key of a piece.

Contents

Intervals and chords

Major and minor third in a major chord: major third ‘M’ on bottom, minor third ‘m’ on top info).
Relative tonic chords on C and A (info)).
Parallel tonic chords on C.
Major chord
Minor chord
The difference between the major and minor chord may be seen if they are drawn in chromatic circle.

With regard to intervals, the words major and minor just mean large and small, so a major third is a 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.

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. In Western music, a minor chord, in comparison, “sounds darker than a major chord”.[1]

 

Keys

Parallel major primary triads.

The hallmark that distinguishes major keys from minor is whether the third [1]

Minor keys

The minor scale can be described in two different ways. One way is to consider it as the sixth mode of a major scale, while the other is to call it a variation of the major scale, with the third scale degrees always lowered (or altered) and the sixth and seventh degrees often lowered.

Minor keys are sometimes said to have a more interesting, possibly sadder sound than plain major scales.[2] 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.

Relative major and minor

The key signature and starts down a minor third (or equivalently up a major sixth); for example, the relative minor of G major is E minor. Similarly the relative major of a minor key starts up a minor third (or down a major sixth); for example, the relative major of F minor is A major.

Relation to musical ‘mode’

Contrastingly, changes of mode, which would involve the alteration of the third, and chromaticism, considered to add color and weaken sense of key without entirely destroying or losing it.

Gender

In western music theory, keys, chords, and scales are often described as having major or minor tonality, sometimes related to tonality, and the words Dur (from Latin durus, ‘hard’) for major and moll (from Latin mollis, ‘soft’) for minor.

Scales and chords

Major and minor chords may each be found in both the major and minor scales, constructed on different degrees of each. For example in the parallel keys on C on the first degree of the major scale a major chord (C-E-G) is constructed while on the first degree of the minor scale a minor chord (C-E-G) is constructed:

Major:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
M m m M M m d

Natural minor:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
m d M m m M M

Relative relationship:

    M m m M M m d
m d M m m M M

Minor scales

There are three variations of the minor scale: natural, harmonic and melodic.

In the natural minor scale, all scale degrees are the same as the relative major. For example, in the “A minor natural scale,” the notes are ABCDEFG. In a harmonic minor scale, the 7th note is raised a semitone, both ascending and descending (ABCDEFG). In a melodic minor scale, the 6th and 7th notes ascending are raised a semitone (ABCDEFG), and descending, the 6th and 7th notes are natural (ABCDEFG).

Intonation and tuning

 

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

Underlying perceived musical tuning of intervals is the frequency relationship expressed as a fraction. Simple fractions can sound more harmonious than complex fractions; for instance an octave is a simple 2:1 ratio and a fifth, also concordant is the relatively simple 3:2 ratio. The table below gives approximations of a scale to ratios that are rounded towards being as simple as possible.

In [4]

Advanced theory

Minor as upside down major.

root of A minor triad third of A minor triad fifth of A minor triad fifth of A minor triad root of C major triad root of C major triad third of C major triad fifth of C major triad fifth of E minor triad fifth of E minor triad root of E minor triad third of E minor triad third of G major triad fifth of G major triad root of G major triad root of G major triad fifth of D minor triad fifth of D minor triad root of D minor triad third of D minor triad third of F major triad fifth of F major triad root of F major triad root of F major triad

Major and minor triads: The minor mode is considered the inverse of the major mode. (file)

In the German theory by or derived from dominant parallel, and the major tonic. (Gjerdingen, 1990)

 

See also

Sources

  1. ^ ISBN 978-0-07-340134-8.
  2. ^ Craig Wright (September 18, 2008).“Listening to Music: Lecture 5 Transcript”, Open Yale Courses.
  3. ^ Alexander J. Ellis (translating Hermann Helmholtz): On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music, page 455. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1954.
  4. info) and much rougher than the 300 cent ET minor third.

Source: Wikipedia