Major and minor


Audio: major and minor (0:08)

Major and minor
Figure: major and minor

major and minor plays major and minor Pythagorean intervals on a piano. The major and minor figure shows that the score contains the following:

  • Bar 1 is a major third, DF#.
  • Bar 2 is a minor sixth, DBb.
  • Bar 3 is a major seventh DC#.
  • Bar 4 is a minor second DEb.

Two more pairs of intervals are constructed in Pythagorean tuning by continuing to multiply by 3:2 and working out the inversions:

You can do the maths by now.

The second, third, sixth and seventh intervals come in two flavours, major and minor. Major and minor intervals have more complex frequency ratios than the perfect intervals. The other difference is that the inverse of a major interval is always a minor interval and vice versa, whereas the inverse of a perfect interval is always another perfect interval.

major and minor includes two new symbols: a sharp (#) and a flat (b), known as accidentals. We will explore their use later.