The Rule of Threes

Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra


The Rule of Threes is much more common than we are consciously aware. Most stories we encounter in books, television, film, and theatre use a three-act structure of scenario, complication, resolution. The Rule of Three is also prevalent in advertising and oratory: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; Liberté, égalité, fraternité; Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

It can also be claimed as a foundation of music: a chord by another name is a triad, which is three notes; musical function is categorized as either melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic; Sonata Form, the basis for most symphonies, is a home-away-home structure. Even the orchestra itself is made up of strings, winds, and percussion. In pop and jazz, the core ensemble is piano, bass, drums. The list goes on.

To conjure the magic of this mystical number three, we have selected three times three: Enrique Soro’s charming Three Chilean Songs, Florence Price’s richly expressive Symphony No. 3, and the ecstatically rapturous finale from Gustav Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 3.

Soro Tres aires chilenos

Price Symphony No. 3

Mahler Symphony No. 3 Mvt VI. Finale