Major Thirds

oakcroft13 bill at h...
Wed Feb 20 12:26:36 GMT 2002

J. Greenhough:

> 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 pointed out in my post last 
night that I was referring, for no particular reason, to the tuning 
of Gillett's tierces against equal temperament.

The actual intervals in cents for various tunings are:
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.)

So a third which is only 70 cents sharp of a just minor third is a 
just major third. Many people would say that just or meantone are 
more 'natural' sounding tunings, and that it is equal which is 
artificially adjusted. So, a third doesn't have to be very sharp for 
it to sound major.

For more on this, try I promise I 
won't plug my website often, it will be become boring I'm sure.

Bill H

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