Various Types of “Mi”(3rd)

May be you get confused when I say, “There are various difference in pitch of E(3rd).”

May be you have already noticed about this fact.


In order to find the mystery of  “E”, we have to understand about the overtone.

One fundamental tone consists the tones of different pitch.

When you listen carefully to fundamental tone “C”, you can hear partials for example “G” and “E” .


~ Experiment with guitar and piano ~

・when the string is touched at the center, it makes a sound octave higher.

・when the string is touched at the 1/3 , it makes a sound octave and 5th higher.

・2 octave higher, when it is touched 1/4.

・2 octave and major 3rd higher, when it is touched 1/5.


These tones already exist, even the string is not touched we listen to these overtones unconsciously,

because these tones blends together perfectly in pure intervals.

Please imagine a chord C(C-E-G).

I’m sure you can imagine naturally!

This is because G and F are already included in  “C”.


Let us put a spotlight on”E”


Interval of “C” and “E” in the previous experiment is called pure 3rd.

This 3rd has no howling, it sounds strict and solemn.

you can hear this sound in pipe organ, choir,storing ensemble,brass ensemble,etc.


When the 3rd is in slightly higher, the sound would become softer.

Maybe, casual and relaxing impression.


Equal temperament is standard today.

3rd of equal temperament is much higher than the pure 3rd.

This produce lots of howling.

But most of the people are already got used to this sound.


If the 3rd is octave plus 3rd(10th), the howling becomes almost noticeable.

More over, this harmony makes a sound of when this is used in  melody, it would sound brilliantly.


When you listen to great pianist, these harmonies are controlled beautifully.

There are various type of “E” which have various type of expression.

When you get used to these sounds, it will broaden your musical life.


Chisako Murakami translated it into English from
Special thanks to Ms. Midori Kita.