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I thought it was the blue note but this is not it. For some reason, "perfect third" comes to mind, but google returns nothing. Anyone know?

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    It is a blue third/neutral third – maj Sep 14 '19 at 14:42
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    This isn't really correct. Neutral third is the term for a third mid-between major and minor, but it's not used in blues and not really appropriate. “Blue note” is more often explained as a minor third in a major key, but actually Blue notes are neither necessarily minor nor neutral thirds. Rather, they're generally notes smeared emotionally downwards – usually not to a fix, well-defined pitch. – leftaroundabout Sep 14 '19 at 22:24
  • @leftaroundabout- "notes smeared emotionally downwards". You just painted an amazing picture in my mind, now that's what we're talking about here. – skinny peacock Sep 15 '19 at 14:38
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In guitar tab it's labelled 1/4 tone bend. It has to be bent, as it's half way between the m3 and M3. Since it can't really be written on the normal staff of 5 lines, 4. spaces, in Western music it can't have a letter name, surely. The 'blue' third is generally regarded as m3 in a major key, and never heard of a 'neutral' third - or any other 'neutral' interval.

EDIT: having Wiki'd 'neutral third', it seems it is indeed a recognised term for that elusive note! Something new every day... Now what about the ones in between it and the m3 or M3..? Guitarists playing Blues use those as well !

  • Well, so much for the concept of twelve individual notes in a chromatic scale. Anybody have any idea how many unnamed tones/frequencies in an octave? Also explain how they are notated if you please. – skinny peacock Sep 15 '19 at 0:01
  • @skinnypeacock - I'd label them with their value in cents or Hz, but music is a continuum, so there are technically infinite unnamed frequencies in an octave if you adhere strictly to (the finite number of) existing tuning systems. – Dekkadeci Sep 15 '19 at 13:18
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I think I know what you mean. This tone can be produced by singing, woodwind, brass and string instruments, guitar and especially the blues harp ...

wouldn't we call it just a "bent 3rd" ? or "bent" 5th?

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When we talk about the 12 possible semitones, we are seeing music from a Western standpoint. Exploring other music traditions, we find other notes, and therefore other intervals, in common use. We think of them as in-between notes only because we are comparing them with our own standard set. The bent minor third, achieved on guitar by bending the string to increase the tension (and on harmonica by "bending" the major third down) is more common than the standard "western" minor third in Blues. As a reference, watch any blues guitarist, such as B B King, and you will see the minor third being played with the higher-sounding string visibly bent.

So as to what it is called, we could call it a bent minor third or, when it is clear we are talking about blues, perhaps we need only call it the minor third, it being taken for granted it will be played slightly sharp compared to "Western" intonation. On a guitar, if we play an A on the 4th string, 7th fret and at the same time a C on the third string 5th fret, and try various degrees of bend on the C note only, we can make a subjective judgement of the "relative sweetness" of the bent interval.

If we use the nomenclature of the 24 Equal Temperament Scale, the note midway between the major and minor third is called the Neutral Third. I am not aware of any frequency-measurement data comparing this with the bent minor third as played by recognized blues masters. Qualification: I have played guitar, including blues guitar, for almost 60 years, and have a degree in Applied Science.

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This is a new one for me. There is only a half step between a minor third and a Major third, and though either one may be sharp or flat by being out of tune, there is no designated note between the two notes in western music and a third interval is not classified as being a Perfect interval.

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    You surely know this tone: s. "it ain't necessarily so" or "Once upon in the time in the West", or Janis Joplin and many blues singer! this note is marked as blue note with a slight slash something between ' or ) above it. musicradar.com/tuition/guitars/… – Albrecht Hügli Sep 14 '19 at 19:40
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    @Albrecht Hugli- This video went a long way towards helping me understand something about myself. I would classify the "note" being discussed here as an effect that's accomplished by bending the third, Major or minor, where others would define it as a "note" being played. I now have an idea what others may be talking about if it ever comes up in discussion. Great video. – skinny peacock Sep 15 '19 at 14:31

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