The magic of minor thirds in jazz improvisation

I just wrote a simple one-page insert for my upcoming book, Trombone Improvisation Savvy on what I call the “magic” of the minor third interval.

Here’s the excerpt along with the audio tracks created for the examples:

The magic of the minor third

The minor third is an important interval in jazz improvisation. Hearing how it fits within a dominant chord will give your playing a hipper more Be Bop flavor. Notice the minor thirds within a C7 b9 chord:





Play notes over the above chord from the C diminished chord. Because minor thirds repeat tones at the forth minor third interval, there are only three diminished scales.  Here is the C diminished scale:




Play minor thirds based off C and other notes from the diminished scale over the following audio file:


You’ll notice that every note fits within the chord’s harmony. Better yet, if that C7 b9 resolves to the I chord (F major7) which it often does, many of the notes within the diminished scale fit that chord as well (A, C, E).

I’ve recorded some lines using minor thirds and the diminished scale to resolve from C7 b9 to F major. After my five lines, eight more two bar rhythms are played so that you can experiment with these tonalities.


Learn to hear the minor thirds and how they fit within altered dominant chords and resolve nicely into the tonic. Keep an ear out for the various examples of minor thirds within this book’s many transcribed solos.

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