Music Interval Calculator
Welcome to the music interval calculator! With this tool, you'll be able to easily determine the interval between two given notes. For example, the F to C interval, E to B interval, or F to C sharp interval.
If you'd like to learn about music intervals, we invite you to read the accompanying text of this calculator, where we covered some music intervals fundamentals. Starting with what is an interval in music?, the size or distance and the interval quality: perfect, major, minor, augmented, and diminished.
We dedicated this calculator to the sense of hearing. We also have a tool where the main topic is about eyesight. If you're interested, check the 20/20 vision calculator to test your risk of vision impairment!
What is an interval in music? — Interval quality and distance
In music theory, an interval is defined as the distance between any two notes or the difference in pitch between two sounds. The intervals serve as the base for scales, chords, and melodies.
In Western music theory, the name of an interval describes two properties:
- The number or distance; and
- The quality or type.
The number, often referred to as the distance or size, is the number of letter names or staff places between two notes (including lines and spaces). For example, the distance between F and A is a third (F, G, and A), C to F is a fourth (C, D, E, and F), and the distance between C and A is a sixth (C, D, E, F, G, and A).
The names of the distances are quite intuitive since they are named after the numerical distance between the notes, e.g., when the distance between two notes is five notes, the interval is said to be of a fifth. If it's of six notes, it is a sixth, and so on. This naming system has only two exceptions: the distance between a note and itself is referred to as an unison rather than a first. Similarly, notes eight lines and spaces apart are referred to as an octave rather than an eighth.
To summarize, the names of the distances are unison, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and octave.
Keep in mind that determining the distance is not necessary to account for accidentals (♯ or ♭), as these don't change the staff position of the notes. Then, the distance between C♯ and A, as the one from C to A, is still a sixth — Accidentals don't change the distance.
In general, we can just express an interval by its distance, but if we want to be more specific, we may also indicate the quality of the interval. When we specify the distance and quality of an interval, we are describing the distance between the actual sounds and not just the distance between the letter names of the notes.
There are five possible interval qualities, and these are:
- Perfect (P);
- Major (M);
- Minor (m);
- Augmented (A or +); and
- Diminished (d or o).
When naming an interval, first indicate the quality and then the distance, e.g., a major second (M2), minor sixth (m6), perfect octave (P8), and so forth.
The quality of intervals in major and minor diatonic scales is always the same. In the case of major scales, all intervals are major or perfect. On the other hand, in minor scales, all intervals are either perfect, major, or minor.
When we compare the quality of intervals from a major and minor scale, we always find:
- Perfect intervals: are always the unison, fourth, fifth, and octave.
- Major or minor intervals: are the second, third, sixth, and seventh intervals.
In the case of major scales, the interval cannot be major or perfect if the upper note is not part of the major scale derived from the lower note (the tonic). It will instead be augmented, minor, or diminished.
Augmented intervals are one semitone larger than a perfect or major interval. Whereas diminished intervals are one semitone smaller than a perfect or minor interval or one complete tone smaller than the major interval.
The following chart shows examples of the names of the intervals up an octave and the corresponding number of semitones:
Number of semitones
C - C
C - D♭
C - D
C - E♭
C - E
C - F
C - G♭
C - G
C - A♭
C - A
C - B♭
C - B
C - C
Remember that counting semitones isn't enough to identify the name of an interval. Different names can be given to intervals with the same number of semitones. For example, the interval from D to F♯ is a major third (4 semitones), while that from D to G♭ is a diminished fourth (4 semitones).
Finally, compound intervals are intervals greater than an octave. The music interval calculator will provide the simple and compound name for intervals between 13-28 semitones. Intervals with more than 28 semitones will only be given a compound name.
🎵 Did you know that notes are sound waves with a specific frequency and wavelength? To learn more about these topics, you might like to take a look at our frequency and wavelength calculators.
How to use the music interval calculator — Find the distance between two notes or two pitches
With the music interval calculator, you'll be able to determine the music interval by either indicating two notes or two pitches. To use this tool:
Interval between notes
This is to find the interval between notes from their letters or symbols on a staff:
Select the' between notes' option in the Interval type row.
From the Note 1 and Note 2 fields, choose the two notes you want to determine the interval.
In this calculator, Note 1 corresponds to the lower note and Note 2 to the higher note, which means that the calculator counts intervals from note 1 to note 2.
The calculator will show you the interval between the selected notes.
Interval between pitches
Now, if you're interested in finding the interval between two sounds or actual pitches, use the music interval calculator as follows:
between pitchesoption from the Interval type field.
Sound 1 and Sound 2 sections will display. In each, you can enter the note you're interested in examining and the Octave in which it is. Since you're entering the exact pitches, you can enter the notes in any order.
The calculator will indicate the interval between them.
Give it a try! What is the interval from F to C? or the E to B interval?
🙋 By clicking on the
Advanced mode, you can see the number of semitones and tones between your notes 🎵