An interval is the distance in pitch between two notes.

Intervals are the building blocks of melody and harmony, and learning to recognise the different types of interval can help you understand harmony, transcribe melodies, and play by ear. It powers your sense of relative pitch, a fundamental musical ability.

(ascending major third, from C)

If one note is much higher than the other, the interval is big. If the notes are close to each other in pitch, the interval is small. Intervals can be measured in semitones (half notes) or tones (whole notes) and the different sizes of interval have different names:

# semitonesNameListen
1Semitone, Half Step, Minor Second
2Tone, Whole Step, Major Second
3Minor Third
4Major Third
5Perfect Fourth
6Tri-Tone, Augmented Fourth, Diminished Fifth
7Perfect Fifth
8Minor Sixth
9Major Sixth
10Minor Seventh
11Major Seventh

See also: Intervals Topic page

Similar questions answered on this page:

  • What’s interval recognition?
  • How does relative pitch work?

Want to become more musical?

Musicality ChecklistWe can help!

Whether you want to sing in tune, play by ear, improvise, write your own songs, perform more confidently or just make faster progress, first you need to know where you're starting from.

The Musicality Checklist will quickly reveal your personal musicality profile and how you can improve your natural musicianship.

Available FREE today!

Get the Checklist

Intervals Ear Training at Musical U Ear Training at Musical U

Explore Intervals Training Modules
at Musical U

Musical U is the all-in-one training website which helps you to become more musical in an easy, fun and personalised way.

→ Learn More