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If I go from F# to D# down (F#-D#) is that a diminished third or augmented second interval?

I am composing in minor mode and want to know because augmented intervals are forbidden in part writing.

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5 Answers 5

It's actually just a minor third. D# to F## would be a major third, therefore, D# to F# is a minor third. A diminished third would be D# to F. Besides, you wouldn't hardly ever use an augmented interval to descend in a voice, but ascending would be more likely.

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In equal temperament it can be either, depending on the context. If you're writing a descending D#-minor triad it's a minor third. If you're writing a descending harmonic G-minor scale it's an augmented second. You should actually write it as F#-Eb then although it will sound just the same on a piano, for example. But even pianists may play the interval differently depending on what you write, and might get a little confused if what you've written is not what it should be. If you don't have the theoretical knowledge to decide which one it is, try listening to it. If it sounds tense, it's probably a second. If it's relaxed, it's probably a third.

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I seem to remember (far too many years ago) my theory teacher stating flatly that the names of the notes define the interval, e.g. C-Ebb is dim3 but C-D is major2 .

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I've always used the lower note as a base to count from.Thus, D# to F# (or even Eb to Gb) is a minor third.If it was to be called an augmented second it could be, but it may depend on the key the piece is in.An example of that section of tune may make it easier to explain.

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I am composing in e minor is it an augmented second in that case? –  Chris Olszewski May 16 '13 at 16:57
For the interval to be a minor second, it would need to be written D# - E##. –  jjmusicnotes May 16 '13 at 17:19
jj- a minor second is one tone up, minus a semitone, so from D# it'll be Fb won't it? An augmented second will be D# - E##.Sounds strange using these terms, but it matters when it comes to writing the notes on a stave. I get awfully confused when, for example, reading a chord chart in E maj, and someone has written an Abm chord. –  Tim May 17 '13 at 6:21
@ Tim - after reading your comment a second time I realized I made a mistake in my original comment. It should read "For the interval to be an augmented second, it would need to be written D# - E##." Good catch. –  jjmusicnotes May 17 '13 at 6:33
I'm guilty as well ! Think we should be writing ## as x –  Tim May 18 '13 at 11:20

F# down to D# is a minor 3rd. It is equivalent to an augmented 2nd in distance, but because it is an F down to a D it has to be a third. The equivalent interval as an augmented 2nd would be an F# down to Eb which does exist in the G harmonic minor (pointed out by nonpop) so if you are using that scale it is an augmented second.

The intervals can also be looked at in as inverted where an F# up to a D# would be a Major 6th and an F# up to a Eb would be a diminished 7th.

This distance from one letter name to another determines what the name of an interval is so the key you are in is must know knowledge for analysing intervals.

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