Friday, June 10, 2011

Music Intervals


In this lesson we are going to learn about music intervals.

A music interval is the distance between two notes. Each interval has a number from 1 to 8, which tell the distance between two notes by counting the lines and spaces on the staff. For example, if we count lines and spaces starting from C and ending on G on the treble staff below, we would count C,D,E,F,G = 1,2,3,4,5, Therefore, the interval from C to G is a fifth (5th).


These interval numbers, 1 to 8, are also called:
  • Unison - 1
  • Second - 2nd
  • Third - 3rd
  • Fourth - 4th
  • Fifth - 5th
  • Sixth - 6th
  • Seventh - 7th
  • Octave - 8ve
Intervals can also be described as Major (M), minor (m), Perfect (P), Augmented (A), or diminished (d). These intervals can be seen in the images below.

Major Intervals
Minor Intervals
Perfect Intervals
Augmented Intervals occur when we raise an interval in half a tone
Diminished Intervals occur when we lower it in half a tone

Each interval comprises of a certain number of semitones (half-steps or half tones). Remember a half-step is the smallest distance between two notes, such as D to D-sharp, E to F, or A-flat to G while a whole-step is the distance of two half-steps, such as C to D, E to F-sharp, or B-flat to A-flat. 

Now with the help of the piano keyboard, you can then count the number of half-steps or whole steps that make up intervals. Below is a list of intervals and their half steps and whole steps.
  • P1, d2 = 0 half-steps
  • m2, A1 = 1 half-step
  • M2, d3 = 2 half-steps or 1 whole step
  • m3, A2 = 3 half-steps or 1 whole step and 1 half step
  • M3, d4 = 4 half-steps or 2 whole steps
  • P4, A3 = 5 half-steps or 2 whole steps and 1 half step
  • A4, d5 = 6 half-steps or 3 whole steps
  • P5, d6 = 7 half-steps or 3 whole steps and 1 half step
  • m6, A5 = 8 half-steps or 4 whole steps
  • M6, d7 = 9 half-steps or 4 whole steps and 1 half step
  • m7, A6 = 10 half-steps or 5 whole steps
  • M7, d8 = 11 half-steps or 5 whole steps and 1 half step
  • P8, A7 = 12 half-steps or 6 whole steps

There are 2 groups of intervals; the melodic group and the harmonic group, which can be seen in the image below. A melodic musical interval is created when you play two notes one after the other successively. A harmonic interval is created when the notes are played at the same time. 



If you look further in the picture below, you'll see that every music interval could be raised or diminished.


Augmenting and Diminished Major Musical Intervals.
When a major interval is raised by a half step, it becomes augmented.

When a major interval is lowered by a half step, it becomes minor.
When a major interval is lowered by two half steps, it becomes diminished.



Augmenting and diminishing minor musical intervals. 
When a minor interval is raised by a half step, it becomes major.
When a minor interval is raised by two half steps, it becomes augmented.
When a minor interval is lowered by a half step, it becomes diminished.



Augmenting and Diminished Perfect Musical Intervals.
When a perfect interval is raised by a half step, it becomes augmented.
When a perfect interval is lowered by a half step, it becomes diminished.

Music intervals can also be inverted. This means that you take each and every interval and turn it upside down so that the lower note will be raised and become the upper note of the interval; that is the relationship between the notes is reversed.

See the image below for some examples. The treble staffs shows (1) The major becomes minor eg a major 2nd becoming a minor 7th,  (2) minor becoming major eg minor 3rd becoming a major 6th, (3) & (4) Perfect 4th remains Perfect 5th or Perfect 5th remains Perfect 4th, (5) Augmented becomes Diminished eg major 6th becomes minor 3rd, and (6) Diminished becomes Augmented eg major 7th becomes minor 2nd.



Below is a quiz you can try. Good luck.







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