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
0Unison
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
12Octave

See also: Intervals Topic page

Similar questions answered on this page:

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

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