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Music Theory Lesson 3 - Intervals - Part 1

Why bother with intervals you say? Intervals are the building bolcks of harmony. More simply, 2 or more notes produce a chord, and understanding the intervollic structure can help you determine what the chord is.

In traditional Classical harmony, intervals are referred to in terms like: minor second, major third, Perfect fourth, Diminished fifth, etc.

Once you begin to undersatand intervals you may want to simplify the terminology a bit.
I.E. Perfect fourth = Fourth or Diminished fifth = Flat five

Now let us begin. We will start with our basic C major scale. (See Major scale in Terminology page)

C     D     E     F     G     A    B     C

1      2     3      4      5     6     7      8

Looking at C, which is the root of the major scale, in relation to every other note in the scale , we come up with the following basic intervals:
C – D  =  interval of a second ( or 2nd )
C – E  = interval of a third ( 3rd )
C – F =     “             fourth ( 4th )
C – G =     “             fifth ( 5th )
C – A =     “             sixth ( 6th )
C – B =     “             seventh ( 7th )
C – C =     “             octave ( 8th )

If you look at any of the 12 major scales,comparing the root of each scale to the other scale tones, you will find the same basic intervolic structure in all of them.

Example: Key of Db

Db     Eb     F     Gb     Ab     Bb     C     Db

1       2       3       4       5       6        7      8
Db – Eb ( 2nd )
Db – F (3rd )
Db – Gb (4th )
Db – Ab (5th )
Db – Bb ( 6th )
Db – C ( 7th )
Db – Db ( 8th )

Unison – 2 or more identical notes, in the same register, being played simultameously.

Exercise: Look at every scale and memorize the basic intervals of each scale tone in relation to the root. In “Intervals Part 2″ we will take a closer look at the harmonic nature of each interval, and learn how to recognize that harmonic nature.

In the next couple of lessons we will explore the more specific nature of intervals.

Back to Music Theory Lessons Page