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Thread: Interval question..need help

  1. #1
    Registered User PeanutDown's Avatar
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    Exclamation Interval question..need help

    Ok so I'm a music noob and trying to grasp the idea of intervals. I have a question and I'll try to explain the it the best I can. Here goes...

    I'll use the C Maj scale for example, when you start counting the distance between notes, why do you have to count the distance of the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. notes FROM the root note (C)??? For example distance from C to D is one interval, then C to E is the second interval, C to F is the third inteval and so on...

    I thought that you would count the distance (interval) from note to note like, C to D is one interval, D to E is the second interval, E to F is the third interval, and so on.

    So which way is correct? And if you DO always start counting from the root or key is that how you always have to do it??? Sorry if any of this is confusing or if I'm way off point, but thanks in advance for the help!

    -Adam

  2. #2
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    You can give a name to the interval between any two notes...using a C major scale as in your example, the intervals from the root are:

    C-C is a (perfect) unison
    C-D is a (major) second
    C-E is a (major) third
    C-F is a (perfect) fourth
    etc.

    If you want to count from note to note:

    C-D is a (major) second
    D-E is a (major) second
    E-F is a (minor) second
    F-G is a (major) second
    etc.

    Think about intervals as representing the "distance" between the notes...the point is that C-D, say, is "an interval of a second", not that it's "the second interval"...hope this helps.
    Last edited by walternewton; 03-30-2011 at 08:15 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User PeanutDown's Avatar
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    Ok, I just read this tutorial..

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/31/1

    Now if you read at the top of the page is says "Intervals are always named in relation to a Root note", now if that's true how can your latter example be correct? I'm really confused lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutDown View Post
    Ok, I just read this tutorial..

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/31/1

    Now if you read at the top of the page is says "Intervals are always named in relation to a Root note", now if that's true how can your latter example be correct? I'm really confused lol
    Well, he's saying that in the context of an article teaching the names of intervals based on the major scale...it's true enough in its way, but I maybe wouldn't phrase it exactly that way...

    One way you might think about my second example is that the D, E, F's become the "root notes" the E, F, G are named in relation to (just the "root" of that interval for naming purposes, not the "root" of the original scale).

  5. #5
    Registered User PeanutDown's Avatar
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    Ok it's starting to make more sense now. So basically what I'm understanding is that an interval can be between ANY two notes there's no standard or rules that are applied to scales, triads or anything, right? That tutorial kind of threw me for a loop when he started the counting from the root and said they are ALWAYS named in relation to the root note. Let me referrence that same tutorial once more and ask you something else that has me scratching my head...

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/31
    On that page he shows an example of intervals applied to a triad, now in that example he is showing an interval between note 1 and note 2, another interval between note 2 and note 3, then saying another interval of the triad is between note 1 and note 3. Is there any reason why he's showing the intervals in that manner? From note 1 to 2, 2 to 3, then 1 to 3? Or am I just beating a dead horse and addressing a question that's already been answered for me?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutDown View Post
    Ok it's starting to make more sense now. So basically what I'm understanding is that an interval can be between ANY two notes there's no standard or rules that are applied to scales, triads or anything, right?
    Yes you can always give a name to an interval between any two notes.

    However specific scales, triads, chords etc. will certainly always conform to certain standards/rules/patterns regarding their intervals.

    For example take (any) major scale again, the interval between the first second note will ALWAYS be a major second, between the first and third note will ALWAYS be a major third, etc.

    Now you can have other scales for which the intervals will be different, but they won't be major scales.


    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutDown View Post
    On that page he shows an example of intervals applied to a triad, now in that example he is showing an interval between note 1 and note 2, another interval between note 2 and note 3, then saying another interval of the triad is between note 1 and note 3. Is there any reason why he's showing the intervals in that manner? From note 1 to 2, 2 to 3, then 1 to 3? Or am I just beating a dead horse and addressing a question that's already been answered for me?
    I think he's just saying that within that (or any) three note group, there are a total of 3 intervals you can define - true, but not something to necessarily worry about too much for now.



    If you haven't seen them already there are some good free lessons at this site you might check out, looking the same information presented in a couple of different ways might help you make sense of it all:

    http://www.musictheory.net/lessons

  7. #7
    Registered User PeanutDown's Avatar
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    I'll definitely check that site out, thanks for the help!

  8. #8
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    An interval is the distance between two tones (notes). Which two notes is the question. We then come up with names for the distance, as mentioned "For example take (any) major scale again, the interval between the first second note will ALWAYS be a major second, between the first and third note will ALWAYS be a major third, etc."

    I skipped over all that as I found it very confusing and of little value - in what I do. Others find value in it. One way or the other you need a naming method. I think your article is saying; "A scale has intervals and we identify the distances from one to the other using a set of names.

    The naming method I (and others) have settled on uses the root note as the "stake in the ground" (the point everything is measured from) and the intervals relationship to the major scale as my naming devise. For example:

    Interval number; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 new octave
    C scale...............C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

    So the E is the 3rd interval (we also use the word degree) in the C Major scale. The G is the 5th interval and the B is the 7th interval.

    We build the chords of a scale by stacking 3rds. What that is saying is we use every other note in the scale to form the chords of that scale.

    A major chord will use the 1, 3 & 5 intervals of the scale, thus the C Major chord is made of the C, E and G notes. If we take this stacking on out one more 3rd and gets the B note into the equation we have made the Cmaj7 chord. In my World I would say the 1, 3, 5 & 7 intervals were used to produce the Cmaj7 chord.

    A minor chord will use the 1, b3 & 5 intervals of the major scale, thus the Cm chord is made of the C, Eb & G notes.

    A diminished chord will use the 1, b3, b5 intervals of the major scale.

    The Major pentatonic scale is made of the 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 intervals of the major scale. So the C major pentatonic scale will have the C, D, E, G & A notes.

    If we sharp the 4th interval of the Major scale we have produced the Lydian mode of the major scale. C Lydian has these notes C, D, E, F#, G, A, B. And if I was speaking in intervals I'd say the Lydian mode contains the 1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7 notes of the major scale.
    Interval is the distance between two tones. We need to identify which two and from what. The article seems to use the root as the starting point. Settle on a naming method that makes since to you. IMHO that is what that article is trying to point out.

    Hope that helps and does not confuse more.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-31-2011 at 03:00 AM.

  9. #9
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    As a follow up on intervals.

    Basic Chords
    Major Triad = R-3-5
    Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5

    7th Chords
    Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7 Harmonic minor and melodic minor will use the full bb7

    Scales
    Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6
    Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7
    Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7
    Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7
    Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
    Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7
    Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7

    Major modes
    Ionian same as the Major Scale.
    Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple.
    Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7.

    Minor Modes
    Aeolian same as the Natural Minor scale.
    Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6.
    Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2.
    Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5.

  10. #10
    Registered User PeanutDown's Avatar
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    I get it now, you guys are great! That is some really helpful information. Thanks again!

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