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:

# semitones Name Listen
0 Unison
1 Semitone, Half Step, Minor Second
2 Tone, Whole Step, Major Second
3 Minor Third
4 Major Third
5 Perfect Fourth
6 Tri-Tone, Augmented Fourth, Diminished Fifth
7 Perfect Fifth
8 Minor Sixth
9 Major Sixth
10 Minor Seventh
11 Major Seventh
12 Octave

See also: Intervals Topic page

Similar questions answered on this page:

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

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