Major third

In music theory, a major third is an interval that has four half steps united states of america (semitones united kingdom).

The major third requires that:

  • The interval must be a third interval (three note names between the first and the last).
  • The interval must have four half steps.

What does a major third look like?

Here is an example of a melodic major third (two music notes in a melody) and a harmonic major third (in a chord):


How to recognize a major third?

Rule of music theory: All intervals in a major scale starting with the tonic (degree I) are either major or perfect, and only unison, octave, fourth and fifth are perfect (the others are major).

Example with the interval A♭ / C:

Let's take the A flat major scale to have A♭ as the tonic:

A flat major scale

From the rule stated above, it becomes clear that A♭ / C is a major third.

Inversion of the major third

The inversion of the major third is the minor sixth.

Here is an example of a minor sixth:


Musical examples of major third

Beethoven's Symphony No.5, first movement

The first descending interval of the beginning of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is a major third:


When the saints go marching in

The famous song When the saints go marching begins with a major third:

Major thirds in When the saints go marching in

Interval identification game

You will find this interval in my Intervals identification game:

Find all my music theory games by clicking this link music theory games
music theory games

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