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The Power of Three

Tom Service explores the appeal of the musical interval of the third. He asks why a major third can feel positive, a minor third sad, plus he discusses the tritone.

From medieval English music to the Everly Brothers - what is it about the musical interval of the third that sounds so attractive? Why does a major third tend to feel positive, and a minor third tend to feel sad? Nature or nurture? And what about their dark cousin, the tritone - the so-called "Devil in Music" - what on earth is that sinister about a couple of notes?
Tom Service is joined by Dr Adam Ockelford to try and find some answers.

Available now

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 25 Nov 2018 17:00

Music Played

  • Henry Purcell

    Sound the trumpet, real. Britten for 2 voices and piano

    Performer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson. Performer: John Mark Ainsley. Performer: Graham Johnson. Music Arranger: Benjamin Britten.
    • Hyperion.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah, Pt.1, no.12; For unto us a child is born [chorus]

    Performer: Monteverdi Choir. Performer: English Baroque Soloists. Performer: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
    • Phiips.
  • Léo Delibes

    Sous le dôme épais (Lakmé)

    Singer: Renée Fleming. Singer: Susan Graham. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Sebastian Lang-Lessing.
    • Decca.
  • Johannes Brahms

    Symphony no. 4 (Op.98) in E minor, 1st movement; Allegro non troppo

    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Mass (BWV.232) in B minor, Pt.1; Christe eleison [SS duet]

    Performer: Dunedin Consort and Players. Performer: John Butt.
    • Linn.
  • Felice & Boudleaux Bryant

    Bye Bye Love

    Performer: The Everly Brothers.
    • Bye Bye Love.
    • Cadence.
  • Boudleaux Bryant

    All I Have To Do Is Dream

    Performer: The Everly Brothers.
    • All I Have To Do Is Dream / Claudette.
    • Cadence.
    • 1.
  • anon

    Scolica Enchiriadis

    Performer: Tonus Peregrinus.
    • Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral.
    • Naxos ‎.
  • John Dunstable

    Quam pulchra es - antiphon MB.44 for 3 voices

    Performer: Tonus Peregrinus.
    • John Dunstaple - Sweet Harmony.
    • Naxos.
  • Cher

    Believe

    Performer: Cher.
    • Believe.
    • Warner Bros. Records.
  • Henry Purcell

    Funeral Music for Queen Mary - drum recessional

    Performer: Equale Brass Ensemble. Performer: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
    • Erato.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Concerto for piano and orchestra no.27 (K.595) in B flat major; 1st mvt; Allegro

    Performer: Cleveland Orchestra.
    • Decca.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Concerto for piano and orch no. 3 (Op.37) in C minor, 1st mvt; Allegro con brio

    Performer: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Performer: Bernard Haitink.
    • Sony.
  • Franz Schubert

    String Quartet in G major (D.887)

    Performer: Amadeus Quartet.
    • DG.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony no 6. First movt

    Performer: Philharmonia. Performer: Lorin Maazel.
    • Mahler: The Complete Symphonies.
    • Signum Classics.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Mass (BWV.232) in B minor, Pt.1; Kyrie eleison [chorus]

    Performer: Dunedin Consort and Players. Performer: John Butt.
    • Linn.
  • Cole Porter

    Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye

    Performer: Ella Fitzgerald.
    • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book.
    • Verve.
  • Black Sabbath

    Black Sabbath

    Performer: Black Sabbath.
    • Black Sabbath.
    • Vertigo.
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Danse macabre - symphonic poem (Op.40) [with solo violin]

    Performer: Kyung-wha Chung. Performer: Philharmonia Orchestra. Performer: Charles Dutoit.
    • Decca.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    The Firebird Suite

    Performer: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Pierre Boulez.
    • Sony.
  • Gustav Holst

    The Planets - suite (Op.32), Mars, the bringer of war

    Performer: Liepājas Simfoniskais orķestris. Performer: Richard Hickox.
    • I.M.P. CLassics.
  • Primus

    South Park Theme

    Performer: Primus.
    • Chef Aid: The South Park Album.
    • American Recordings.
  • Danny Elfman

    The Simpsons Main Title Theme

    Performer: Danny Elfman.
    • Songs In The Key Of Springfield.
    • Rhino Records.
  • Leonard Bernstein

    Maria

    Performer: Leonard Bernstein.
    • West Side Story.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Claude Debussy

    Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune

    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Performer: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • EMI.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Prelude and fugue; Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, bk.2 no.17 (BWV.886) A flat major

    Performer: Angela Hewitt.
    • Hyperion.

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