Major Thirds

oakcroft13 bill at h...
Wed Feb 20 12:50:26 GMT 2002

John Greenhough asks:

> is it a result of the equal temperament our ears
> are used to, in which minor thirds are significantly
> flatter than in the true scale, that a tierce as little
> as a quarter of a semitone sharp strikes me as sounding
> at least half a semitone sharp i.e. closer to major
> than minor?

Absolutely, got it in one. I should have mentioned that the 
information I posted last night was relating tierce tuning to equal 
temperament, for no particular reason.

The intervals for thirds in cents for various tunings are as follows:
Equal: minor third 300, major third 400
Just: minor 316, major 386
Meantone: minor 310, major 386.
(A cent is 1/100 of an equal semitone.)

The interval between a just minor and major third is only 70 cents or 
less than 3/4 of a semitone. Some people would claim that just and 
meantone are more 'natural' sounding tunings than equal, which is 
artificially adjusted for various reasons. So, a third does not have 
to be very sharp at all for it to begin to sound major.

For more on this, see I promise I 
will not plug this website very often!

Bill H

(PS apologise if this is a duplicate posting, the previous one seems 
to have disappeared.)

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