At around six minutes and 40 seconds of this Youtube video,

this gentleman talks about using minor and major thirds and how it was supposed to mimic the sound of a classical guitar. My hearing is not that great, so I wasn’t really able to follow what he was saying. At around eight minutes and eight seconds, he said something about it being a traumatic medium or something like that, but I also think he said something about it being something an impressionistic composer who used it a lot.

Could someone better clarify what he was talking about during those 2 1/2 minutes of that video? Thanks!


The Argentine composer he referenced was Alberto Ginastera. Regarding the thirds and classical guitar, he's talking about playing the chords with tenths instead of thirds. A tenth is the same as a third, one octave higher. When he demonstrates the chords at 7:13, he's doing it as a very fast arpeggio. I suppose that, between the arpeggio and the fact that the third is actually a tenth in many guitar chord voicings, this (for him and/or Ginastera, at least) mimics the sound of a guitar being strummed.

He also discusses the chord voicing moving up (which is called chord planing or parallel harmony), which he says is, "very impressionist, very Debussy, very Ravel."

He then goes on to explain that he is "setting up harmony for later in the piece, where I have the B♭ [major chord] which is the ♭VI." He then corrects himself. "Well, it'd just be VI in D minor." He goes on. "When you have that against the V [the A major chord], it creates that half-step tension that I thought was also very beautiful."

Finally, at 8:08, he discusses the harmony moving from A to G to B♭, calling the G to B♭ a chromatic mediant (already pointed out in the comments). At 8:29, when he says that this goes from major to minor, he plays both chords as major chords, which is confusing, but the minor he's referring to is the G to B♭ relationship.

  • Just for clarification, when you said next to a Bb was an A chord being a flatted sixth from five, do you mean the fifth degree from D-minor, if that was considered to be the first, or root of the diatonic scale, rather than the sixth degree of F-major? It can be a bit confusing when dealing with relative minor of the major in the key. But, if we considered the former, then A minor would be the fifth (v) in a natural minor scale, or V7 in a harmonic minor scale. – HeavenlyHarmony Feb 27 '19 at 5:24
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    @HeavenlyHarmony Yes, the piece is in D minor—at least up to where you're asking about—so B♭ major is the VI chord and the A major chord is the V chord. (As you point out, the V chord is major because he's working with the D harmonic minor scale, which give you C♯ instead of C.) I updated the question with a more detailed transcription of what he actually says. Does this answer the follow-up question? – trw Feb 27 '19 at 15:41

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