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Just major third

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Just major third

This article is about the musical interval. For the guitar tuning, see major thirds tuning.
Major third
Inverse Minor sixth
Name
Other names -
Abbreviation M3
Size
Semitones 4
Interval class 4
Just interval 5:4
Cents
Equal temperament 400
24 equal temperament 400
Just intonation 386



In augmented thirds span the same number of staff positions, but consist of a different number of semitones (two and five).

The major third may be derived from the harmonic series as the interval between the fourth and fifth harmonics. The major scale is so named because of the presence of this interval between its tonic and mediant (1st and 3rd) scale degrees. The major chord also takes its name from the presence of this interval built on the chord's root (provided that the interval of a perfect fifth from the root is also present or implied).

A major third in )).

A helpful way to recognize a major third is to hum the first two notes of Kumbaya or of When the Saints Go Marching In. A descending major third is heard at the starts of Goodnight, Ladies and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

In equal temperament three major thirds in a row are equal to an octave (for example, A to C, C to E, and E to G; G and A represent the same note). This is sometimes called the "circle of thirds". In just intonation, however, three 5:4 major thirds are less than an octave. For example, three 5:4 major thirds from C is B (C to E to G to B). The difference between this just-tuned B and C, like that between G and A, is called a diesis, about 41 cents.

The major third is classed as an imperfect consonance and is considered one of the most consonant intervals after the unison, octave, perfect fifth, and perfect fourth. In the common practice period, thirds were considered interesting and dynamic consonances along with their inverses the sixths, but in medieval times they were considered dissonances unusable in a stable final sonority.

A diminished fourth is enharmonically equivalent to a major third (that is, it spans the same number of semitones). For example, B–D is a major third; but if the same pitches are spelled B and E, the interval is instead a diminished fourth. B–E occurs in the C harmonic minor scale.

The major third is used in guitar tunings. For the standard tuning, only the interval between the 3rd and 2nd strings (G to B, respectively) is a major third; each of the intervals between the other pairs of consecutive strings is a perfect fourth. In an alternative tuning, the major-thirds tuning, each of the intervals are major thirds.

Major third (equal temperament)
File:Third ET.ogg
The file plays middle C, followed by E (a tone 400 cents sharper than C), followed by both tones together.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

See also

References

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