Translate:
Categories
Lessons (57)
Sheet Music (63)
Articles (17)
Links (39)
Reviews (10)
Reference (4)
Music Tools (6)
Advertisements

Zebra Keys

Music Theory

Lesson 14 - Intervals

printable version

I. Index


1.  Introduction
2. The Half Step
3. The Whole Step
4. Description of Intervals
5. 12 Basic Intervals
6. Conclusion


II. Content


1. Introduction
In this lesson you will take a look at intervals. An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval played separately is called a melodic interval; an interval played together is called a harmonic interval.


2. The Half Step
In western music, the smallest interval is the half step. This is sometimes referred to as the semitone or halftone. A visual representation of the half step is any two notes on the piano keyboard that have no notes between them. Below is an illustration of some half steps on the piano keyboard. Notice that all the half steps on the piano keyboard consist of a black and white key that are next to each other. There are two exceptions. The distance between the two white notes B and C, and the two white notes E and F are also a half step.










3. The Whole Step
The whole step is a distance of two half steps. This is sometimes referred to as a whole-tone. This would make a whole step any two notes with only one note between them. Below is an illustration of some whole steps on the piano keyboard.










4. Description of Intervals
Intervals are described in two ways. One way to describe intervals is by number, also known as interval number. The interval number has to do with the distance two notes of a given interval are from each other on the staff. These numbers are U (unison), 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8ve (octave).










Another way to describe intervals is by quality, also known as interval quality. Here are the terms along with their abbreviations in parenthesis used to name interval quality.

Perfect (P)
Major (M)
Minor (m)
Augmented (A)
Diminished (d)

Unison, fourth, fifth, octave. These intervals may be perfect, augmented, or diminished.
  • Perfect Fourths are five half steps.
  • Perfect Fifths are seven half steps.
  • Perfect Unisons are zero half steps.
  • Perfect Octaves are twelve half steps.
  • In each case, the augmented interval contains one half step more than the major interval, and the diminished interval contains one half step fewer than the minor interval (Wikipedia).

A perfect fourth is five half steps. A perfect fifth is seven half steps. A perfect octave is twelve half steps. A perfect unison occurs between notes of the same pitch, so it is zero half steps. In each case, an augmented interval contains one more half step, and a diminished interval contains one less half step.

Second, third, sixth, seventh. These intervals may be major, minor, augmented, or diminished.
  • Major seconds are two half steps, also called a whole step, minor seconds are one half step.
  • Major thirds are four half steps; minor thirds are three half steps.
  • Major sixths are nine half steps; minor sixths are eight half steps.
  • Major sevenths are eleven half steps; minor sevenths are ten half steps.
  • In each case, the augmented interval contains one half step more than the major interval, and the diminished interval contains one half step fewer than the minor interval (Wikipedia).

5. 12 Basic Intervals
Let's take a look at the basic intervals on the piano keyboard and what they sound like. You are going to skip the unison, because a unison is two of the same notes.

Below is a Minor second, abbreviated (m2). Notice the lowercase "m". The opening of the "Jaws" theme is a (m2).










Below is a Major second, abbreviated (M2). Notice the uppercase "M". The first two notes of "Happy Birthday" are a (M2).










Below is a Minor third, abbreviated (m3). "The Impossible Dream" has a (m3).










Below is a Major third, abbreviated (M3). "Halls of Montezuma" has a (M3).










Below is a Perfect fourth, abbreviated (P4). The first two notes of "Here Comes the Bride" are a (P4).










Below is a Diminished 5th, abbreviated (d5). This is also known as a Tritone, abbreviated (TT). Sing "Maria" from the song "Maria" in "West Side Story". That is a (TT).










Below is a Perfect fifth, abbreviated (P5). The first two notes of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" are a (P5).










Below is a Minor sixth, abbreviated (m6).










Below is a Major sixth, abbreviated (M6). The first two notes of the "NBC" theme are a (M6).










Below is a Minor seventh, abbreviated (m7). "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" has a (m7).










Below is a Major 7th, abbreviated (M7). "Bali Hai" from "South Pacific" has a (M7).










Below is an Octave. It may sometimes be abbreviated (Oct.). The first two notes of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" are an Octave.










6. Conclusion
In this lesson you went over intervals. You then learned about half steps and whole steps. Intervals can be named using number and quality. You also went through and named the 12 basic intervals.




Custom Search

return to menu