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Music Theory Lesson 4 - Intervals - Part 2

Major & Minor Intervals

In this lesson we will learn how to determine the specific nature of Major & Minor intervals.
If we look at the key of C again, we have:

C     D     E     F     G     A    B     C

1      2     3      4      5     6     7      8

C – D (a 2nd), is more specifically considered a Major 2nd since D is in the key of C.
If you lower the D 1/2 step to Db, then the interval becomes a minor 2nd.

C – E ( a 3rd), is more specifically a Major 3rd since E is in the key of C.
If you lower the E 1/2 step to Eb, then the interval becomes a minor 3rd.

C – A ( a 6th), is more specifically a Major 6th since A is in the key of C.
If you lower the A 1/2 step to Ab, then the interval becomes a minor 6th.

.C – B ( a 7th), is more specifically a Major 7th since B is in the key of C.
If you lower the B 1/2 step to Bb, then the interval becomes a minor 7th.
(4ths, 5ths and octaves fall under another specific intervallic category called “Perfect Intervals”, which we will discuss in the next lesson.)

To recap, any 2nd, 3rd, 6th or 7th where the second note of the interval is “diatonic” to (meaning “in the key of”) the first note, is a major interval. If you compress a major interval by 1/2 step it becomes a minor interval.

Exercise: Name the intervals below

Example:
Eb – Gb – Answer: minor 3rd.  (remember Eb – G is a major 3rd, and flatting that 3rd produces a minor 3rd.)
F- E – Answer: major 7th

1. F – E
2. Bb – Gb
3. G – Ab
4. F# – E#
5. A – G
6. B – C#
7. D – F
8. G – E
9. C# – E#
10. Ab – G

INVERTING MAJOR & MINOR  INTERVALS
Example:
If you take a major 2nd interval , say C – D and invert it , D – C ,
then it becomes a minor 7th , ( because C# is the major 7th in the key of D ,
and flatted 1/2 step to C , it becomes the minor 7th.)

Here are the rules of thumb for inverting major and minor intervals:

Major becomes Minor / Minor becomes Major
2nds become 7ths / 7ths beome 2nds
3rds become 6ths / 6ths become 3rds

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