Music theory is a fascinating subject that explores the various elements that make up music. One such element is the Picardy Third.

If you are a music enthusiast and have been exploring music theory, you may have come across this term. But what exactly is a Picardy Third in music theory?

What Is a Picardy Third?

A Picardy Third refers to the use of a major chord at the end of a musical piece that is predominantly in minor mode. In simpler terms, it means ending a song in a major key instead of the expected minor key. This technique has been used by composers for centuries and has been particularly popular during the Baroque period.

Why Is It Called a Picardy Third?

The name ‘Picardy Third’ originates from the region of Picardy in France, where this technique was commonly used during the Renaissance period. It was often applied in religious music compositions and was also known as “Tierce de Picardie” or “Picard Cadence.”

How Is It Used?

The use of a Picardy Third creates an unexpected twist at the end of a musical piece. It brings about an uplifting feeling as it changes from minor to major, providing resolution to an otherwise somber or melancholic piece.

For example, if a musical piece is written primarily in A minor, it would typically end on an A minor chord. However, with the use of a Picardy Third, it would instead end with an A major chord.

Notable Examples

One of the most recognizable examples of this technique can be found in J.S Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C Major from his famous collection ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier.’ The piece is written predominantly in C minor but ends with a C major chord.

Another prominent example can be found in Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, also known as the ‘Moonlight Sonata.’ The third movement of the piece is written in C-sharp minor but ends with a C-sharp major chord.


In conclusion, the Picardy Third is a technique used in music theory that involves ending a piece of music in a major key, despite having been predominantly written in a minor key. It creates an uplifting feeling and provides resolution to an otherwise somber piece. This technique has been used for centuries by composers and has become an essential aspect of music theory.