Need help with intervals (perfect, major, minor, ect)


hunter1801
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hunter1801
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04/08/2009 6:47 pm
In my theory class, we are learning about intervals. Ive understood everything in the class up to this point. I just got completely lost when this chapter came up.

Im having trouble understanding how to look at this whole concept. We are learning about perfect, Major, minor, diminished, and augmented intervals. Whats the easiest way to be able to identify intervals. Homework right now involves naming the type of interval between two notes on the staff.
# 1
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/10/2009 4:21 am
Originally Posted by: hunter1801In my theory class, we are learning about intervals. Ive understood everything in the class up to this point. I just got completely lost when this chapter came up.

This might be beside the point, but: what in the world were you learning about in music theory class before you got to intervals?

Anyway, I did an in depth tutorial covering intervals for beginners here:
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=362

An overview of music theory here:
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=495

And a tutorial covering how to visualize all possible chromatic intervals anywhere on the guitar fretboard here:
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=462

You might also have success here:
http://www.musictheory.net/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_(music)

Hope this helps.
Christopher Schlegel
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Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
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hunter1801
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hunter1801
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04/10/2009 5:59 pm
Well we started with the basics: What the staff means, all the notes, moved to scales and key signatures (major, minor, and some pentatonic), then rythm and meters.

I dont have full access, so ill have to try the free sites.
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ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/10/2009 7:48 pm
Originally Posted by: hunter1801Well we started with the basics: What the staff means, all the notes, moved to scales and key signatures (major, minor, and some pentatonic), then rythm and meters.

The reason I asked is that intervals are the fundamental unit of note measurement in music. You can't think about, discuss or use scales, chords, key signatures or draw more than one different note on a staff without implying intervals. Since they are implied in every aspect of music theory it is best to start with them. As we did in the GT fundamental courses.

How did your teacher manage to introduce scales without talking about intervals?

Any system or approach to teaching music theory that doesn't start with intervals is bound to be disorganized and at least marginally unintegrated.

It's like saying you are going to learn to form and spell words in language arts without explicitly discussing, explaining or understanding the alphabet of letters that you will use to make those words.
Christopher Schlegel
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hunter1801
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hunter1801
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04/11/2009 5:43 am
Hm, never thought about it like that. Well learning scales was actually really easy. She taught it by explaining the half step/whole step patterns for major and minor scales based on a keyboard (we learned all the Major stuff first). Then once we started seeing that scales introduced things like sharps and flats, we got into key signatures and memorized all that (circle of fifths too). It all seemed to flow pretty well. I guess the IDEA of intervals was already implied with the idea that fact that there is distance between pitches, but actually NAMING them is where I'm struggling now.

I don't see how I could have learned it the opposite way, with intervals before scales and all that, since you have to know what key signatures are and what scales are in order to name intervals don't you? After all, you are naming them based on them being Major intervals, minor intervals, and so on.
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t.k. gardner
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t.k. gardner
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04/13/2009 4:56 pm
I think to begin with you need to understand the distance (either half-steps or frets , they are the same) between two notes that form an interval. It is fairly easy and at first you really only need to know them, not necessarily know why they are named the way they are. As you get more into it it should become clear.
Unison = No half-steps (C--> C)
Minor 2nd = 1 half-step/1fret (C--> C#/Db)
Major 2nd = 2 half-steps/2 frets C--> D)
Minor 3rd = 3 half-steps/3 frets (C--> D#/Eb)
Major 3rd = 4 half-steps/4/frets (C--> E)
Perfect 4th = 5 half steps/5frets (C--> F)
Augmented 4th or Diminished 5th = 6 half-steps/6 frets (C--> F#/Gb)
Perfect 5th = 7 half steps/7 frets (C--> G)
Minor 6th = 8 half-steps/8 frets (C--> G#/Ab)
Major 6th = 9 half-steps/9 frets (C --> A)
Minor 7th = 10 half steps/10 frets (C--> A#/Bb)
Major 7th = 11 half-steps/11 frets (C--> B)
Octave = 12 half-steps/12 frets C--> C)

Memorize these and then learn them. Good luck.
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Ed Jalowiecki
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Ed Jalowiecki
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04/13/2009 8:11 pm
Originally Posted by: hunter1801Well learning scales was actually really easy. She taught it by explaining the half step/whole step patterns for major and minor scales based on a keyboard (we learned all the Major stuff first). Then once we started seeing that scales introduced things like sharps and flats, we got into key signatures and memorized all that (circle of fifths too). It all seemed to flow pretty well. I guess the IDEA of intervals was already implied with the idea that fact that there is distance between pitches, but actually NAMING them is where I'm struggling now.

I don't see how I could have learned it the opposite way, with intervals before scales and all that, since you have to know what key signatures are and what scales are in order to name intervals don't you? After all, you are naming them based on them being Major intervals, minor intervals, and so on.


Since you learned scales first, I would use that as your guideline to learning intervals. Use the major scale as your framework, and base any variations off of that. Make sure you know the function of all the notes in the major scale first (and start in the key of C, since there are no sharps & flats to worry about):

C - Root
D - Major 2nd
E - Major 3rd
F - Perfect 4th
G - Perfect 5th
A - Major 6th
B - Major 7th

And what's even more important than just naming the intervals is associating each with a sound. A keyboard is great for this. Try playing each note in an interval separately & then together to get the sound in your head.
# 7
Razbo
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Razbo
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12/31/2009 6:52 pm
Why "Perfect"? What is it about Unison, 4, 5 & Octave that is "Perfect"? Is there a pattern I should see or is it an arbitrary thing? I understand moving a half step up or down from a Perfect interval is Augmented or Diminished vs. being Major or Minor, but what's the difference? Why is it Perfect 4th Diminished, not Minor 4th? Why 4th Augmented, not Minor 5th, etc?
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
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ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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01/01/2010 6:53 pm
Originally Posted by: RazboWhy "Perfect"? What is it about Unison, 4, 5 & Octave that is "Perfect"?[/quote]
The nomenclature relates to relative consonance &/or dissonance of the intervals in question. These two Wiki articles taken together address the topic very well. Be forewarned you are wading in fairly thick music theory, physics and acoustics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_(music)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consonance_and_dissonance
[QUOTE=Razbo]I understand moving a half step up or down from a Perfect interval is Augmented or Diminished vs. being Major or Minor, but what's the difference?

I dealt with these issues here:

http://www.guitartricks.com/forum/showthread.php?p=248084

Hope this helps. Ask more if necessary as always. :)
Christopher Schlegel
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