In music theory, Terzschritt (De: third step) is the progression from one major chord to another major chord, or a minor chord to another minor chord by major third root movement.[1] Additionally, and more specifically, it is a dualistic major third relationship, in which the ascending progression from a major tonic triad to major mediant triad is equivalent to the descending one between a major tonic triad and a flat subdominant minor triad. The major chord on the mediant is itself the Terzklang (De: third chord).

"'Where is the E major chord in C major?'...a Terzschritt from the tonic....'What is the E major triad in C major?'...a Terzklang....'How does the E major triad make sense in C major?'...it functions either as III+...or as [D](SP)."[2] The subdominant parallel (Sp) of the dominant ([D]), G, is E ([D](Sp)).

In the work of Hugo Riemann (1849-1919), inversionally related chord progressions are grouped together: the progressions C major->E major and C minor->Ab minor belong to the same category: "Terzschritte" (see counter parallel). The first of these moves a major triad up by major third, while the second moves a minor triad down by major third, with the switch from ascending to descending motion accompanying the change from major to minor. The ascending major third progression is regarded as a "Terzschritt", while the descending progression is called "Terzwechsel."[2] In the context of neo-Riemannian theory, this transformation is called "L-then-P". The basic transformations of neo-Riemannian theory, discussed below, all associate changes in direction with the switch from major to minor.


  1. Mickelsen, William C. (1977). Hugo Rieman's Theory or Harmony and History of Music Book III by Hugo Rieman. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 80–82. ISBN 080320891X.
  2. Kopp, David (2006). Chromatic Transformations in Nineteenth-Century Music, p.99n98. ISBN 0-521-02849-3.
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