Previous page:

Intervals - The Thirds

Next page:
Previous page: Music Theory for Guitar - Music Theory for Guitar - The perfect invervals - sounds Next page: Intervals - The Sixths

Intervals - The Thirds

There are two main types of intervals: Consonant and dissonant. Consonant intervals sound pleasant, or at least comfortable. Dissonant intervals sound unpleasant, uncomfortable and even aggressive. We will come back to the dissonant intervals in later lessons. The intervals we have covered so far - the perfect interval - are all consonant intervals. The other consonant intervals are the thirds and the sixths. In this lesson we will look at the thirds, and the sixths will be covered in the next lesson. You should be familiar with the counting and naming convention, and you should know that the third is the interval from 1st to 3rd note. And you should find the rest of the thirds by applying some very basic mathematics: If the distance from 1st to 3rd is a third, then the distance 2nd to 4th, 3rd to 5th etc, are thirds too. There are two kinds of thirds: Themajor and minor third.

The major third

The major third is two whole steps above the root, which equals four frets on your guitar. The interval between the 3rd and 2nd string is a major third. The first major third in the C-major scale is C to E.

Go to my Ear Training Lesson for examples of the other major thirds in the C-major scale: F-A and G-B.

The minor third

The minor third is one whole and one half step above the root. It makes no difference if it is first a whole and then a half, as in the interval D-F, or first a half and then a whole as in the interval E-G.

As long as we use the C-major scale as the basis, we will not find a minor third within the scale, starting at the root of the scale. The third up from the root (C) is a major third. We go up one step to D, and choose the minor third interval D-F.
Go to my Ear Training Lesson for examples of the other minor thirds in the C-major scale: E-G, A-C and B-D.

Notice the writing of thirds in standard notation. Both notes are either on lines, or in spaces between lines. There is no space between the notes, but they are not overlapping.

We will of course play our C-major scale harmonized in thirds. But notice that we alternate between major and minor thirds. Listen to the sound. You may try harmonizing in major thirds or minor thirds only, just to listen to the effect.

The first third of a scale determines major or minor

It is the first third of a scale that determines if it is major or minor. If the first third is a major third, then the scale is a major scale. If the first third is a minor third, then the scale is a minor scale. There are many different scales. But at least if we do not choose too exotic scales, this rule applies to all of them.

Some General Theory - books

Top Seller


More >>
The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles
Book of the Month 2003-10
The Songwriting Secrets Of The Beatles is an essential addition to Beatles literature - a new and perceptive analysis of both the music and the lyrics.
RefNr: 0711981671
Order From:
MusicRoom
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Books


More >>
Expression in Pop-Rock Music: Critical and Analytical Essays
Expression in Pop-Rock Music is a collection of critical and analytical essays written by todays top scholars on pop and rock music. Applying a wide variety of analytical techniques and critical approaches in the study of songs by artists such as Tori Amos, David Bowie, James Brown, the Cure, Genesis, Radiohead, and Frank Zappa, these essays tackle the musical text itself in coming to terms with political, social, cultural, and stylistic issues expressed in the most popular music of the past half-century. It has been expanded in its second edition to include three new essays and other additions accounting for the changes to the popular music landscape since its first edition, with particular attention paid to the rise of hip-hop and country music.
RefNr: 0415979587
Order From:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

More >>
Contemporary Music Theory: Level Two
A complete harmony and theory method for the pop and jazz musician, suitable for all instrumentalists/vocalists as well as composers/songwriters.
RefNr: HL220015
Order From:
SheetmusicPlus
MusicRoom
Amazon UK
Amazon US

More >>
Music Theory In Practice Grade 8
The indispensable guide to theory from the Associated Board. Covers all topics required for Grade 8, with plenty of practice examples and simple, precise explanations.
RefNr: D5939
Order From:
MusicRoom

More >>
Music Theory In Practice Grade 2 (Revised 2008 Edition)
The indispensable guide to theory from the Associated Board. Covers all topics required for Grade 2,
RefNr: 9781860969430
Order From:
MusicRoom
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Go here for full list of General Theory books

General Theory - videos

Go here for full list of General Theory videos

Previous page: Next page:
Previous page: Music Theory for Guitar - Music Theory for Guitar - The perfect invervals - sounds Next page: Intervals - The Sixths