Major third interval
The major third interval consists of two notes with two whole steps distance. For example, C to E note will result in this musical interval.
The major third interval is abbreviated M3 whereas the minor third is abbreviated m3. An alternate spelling of major third is diminished fourth.
A major third with C to E on the keyboard.
Listen to major third interval (C-E):
To being able to distinguish this interval by ear, a good idea is to think about a familiar song which two starting notes are matching the interval. An ascending example is "When the Saints Go Marching In" (C-E).
This interval is rare in scales and known as a quadra step. It can be found in some exotic scales such as the Balinese and Chinese.
The major third has on the other hand a key role in chords. It is the third that decides if a chord has a major or minor quality. Chords with a major third interval between the first and second notes are in general major chords. For example, C consisting of the notes C, E, G and Cmaj7 consisting of the notes C, E, G, B.
Major thirds result in a pleasant sound and are often part of the harmonic in compositions. Below is a simple example with only major thirds intervals (some are inverted):
Ascending major third intervals
A list with ascending major third intervals:
- C – E
- C#/Db – F
- D – F#/Gb
- D#/Eb – G
- E – G#/Ab
- F – A
- F#/Gb – A#/Bb
- G – B
- G#/Ab – C
- A – C#/Db
- A#/Bb – D
- B – D#/Eb
Descending major third intervals
A list with descending major third intervals:
- C#/Db – A
- D – A#/Bb
- D#/Eb – B
- E – C
- F – C#/Db
- F#/Gb – D
- G – D#/Eb
- G#/Ab – E
- A – F
- A#/Bb – F#/Gb
- B – G
- C – G#/Ab
Enharmonic notes such as Cb and Fb are leaved out.