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#2104544 - 06/18/13 05:39 PM major and minor intervals  
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shimmysham Offline
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hi, ive recently started playing piano and i have a little trouble understanding a part about major and minor intervals in my music theory book.

this is what the book says:
when you describe intervals by degree, you still have to deal with those pitches that fall above or below the basic notes-the sharps and flats, or the black keys on a keyboard.
when measuring by degrees, you see that the second, third, sixth, and seventh notes can easily be flattened..

i do know what degrees are and i am familiar with the major and minor scale. but why can the third, sixth, and seventh notes easily be flattened whilst the fourth and fifth can't?

mind you that english is not my native language if the problem seems obvious yo you

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#2104586 - 06/18/13 07:04 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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For example if you lower a major third by half step it becomes a minor third.
Think about the C major chord C E G. If you lower that E by 1/2 step it becomes Eb (a black key on the piano) and you then have a C minor chord. (And vice versa) if you raise the minor by half step it becomes major.

Not sure if they got to this yet in the book. But fourths and fifths (called perfect fourth or perfect fifth). When altered (lowered or raised) are called diminished or augmented. There are no major or minor 4ths or 5ths. Play the intervals and you will hear why.

Hope that helps a little. I'm typing on my phone so had to keep it brief.

Last edited by Kymber; 06/18/13 07:06 PM.

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And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
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#2104592 - 06/18/13 07:12 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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The second, third, sixth and seventh intervals can have one of two qualities, viz: major (normal or default) or minor (flattened).

The fourth and fifth are perfect intervals (one a fifth above tonic and one a fifth below the octave). Perfect intervals can have one of three qualities, perfect, diminished or augmented.

Hence our triad naming convention. With perfect fifths we only need to name the chord after the third; a major chord has a perfect fifth with a major third, a minor chord has a perfect fifth with a minor third.

If the fifth is not perfect we only need to know the fifth. With a diminished fifth the third must be minor and with an augmented fifth the third must be major.



Richard
#2104610 - 06/18/13 07:51 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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You'll come to find in your experiences that many music theory texts are pretty horribly written (and often strewn with typos as may be the case here) in terms of presenting the material in an easy-to-understand manner.

My conjecture as to what it means to say is as follows: In the C Major scale, the second, third, FIFTH, sixth, and seventh are all easily flattened (not that the fourth is not, however, when it is, the note it lands on is not a black key, but an e or, to be proper, f flat). Important to understand is also how any note "flatted" or "sharped" can also be lowered or raised, respectively, a second time resulting in a "double-flat" or "double-sharp." This is because while a g double-flat may in fact be the same exact note as an f on the keyboard, for example, the note does not serve the same purpose in regards to analyzing and understanding the harmony.


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#2104616 - 06/18/13 08:00 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Quote
My conjecture as to what it means to say is as follows: In the C Major scale, the second, third, FIFTH, sixth, and seventh are all easily flattened (not that the fourth is not, however, when it is, the note it lands on is not a black key, but an e or, to be proper, f flat).

I think that they theory is talking about NAMING conventions. One problem with intervals is that we have intervals in terms of what they are (distance between two piano keys and a distinct sound quality) and what they are called. Thus CEb and CD# "are" the same thing in terms of how they sound and which piano keys are pressed, but names are different.

When 2,3,6,7 are distinguished from 1,4,5,8, they're talking about names. 1,4,5,8 are "perfects" and you cannot lower perfects to have minors. 2,3,6,7 are majors and can be lowered to get minors. This is presented all too often without going into it enough, and here we have it again.

In other words:
1 CC - unison or P1
2 CD - M2
3 CE - M3
4 CF - P4
5 CG - P5

6 CA - M6
7 CB - M7
8 -CC' - P8

So we get told that the red ones are "perfect" and have no major-minor form like the others and the natural question is "why"?

The answer lies somewhat in the names of intervals, which in turn have to do with how the staff is structured, and the history - diatonic system - major scales etc.

#2104617 - 06/18/13 08:00 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: Bobpickle]  
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[quote=Bobpickle]You'll come to find in your experiences that many music theory texts are pretty horribly written (and often strewn with typos as may be the case here) in terms of presenting the material in an easy-to-understand manner.[quote]

I agree. Even my music theory teacher said this. Unfortunately AFTER we all spend about 100 for the text. We hardly used the book and he said there were mistakes and that he has yet to find a good music theory text book. Sigh.


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And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
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#2104621 - 06/18/13 08:11 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham
hi, ive recently started playing piano and i have a little trouble understanding a part about major and minor intervals in my music theory book.

this is what the book says:
when you describe intervals by degree, you still have to deal with those pitches that fall above or below the basic notes-the sharps and flats, or the black keys on a keyboard.
when measuring by degrees, you see that the second, third, sixth, and seventh notes can easily be flattened..

i do know what degrees are and i am familiar with the major and minor scale. but why can the third, sixth, and seventh notes easily be flattened whilst the fourth and fifth can't?

mind you that english is not my native language if the problem seems obvious yo you


I assume you are trying to learn this stuff without a teacher.

Suggestion: Get a teacher.

If that is not possible ... Suggestion: Don't try swallowing all this theoretical stuff so early in your effort. Spend more time reading music and playing music. You will have plenty of time to dive into this theory after you can play a little bit.


Don

Current: ES8, ProFX8 Mixer, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur
#2104659 - 06/18/13 10:56 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: dmd]  
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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by shimmysham
hi, ive recently started playing piano and i have a little trouble understanding a part about major and minor intervals in my music theory book.

this is what the book says:
when you describe intervals by degree, you still have to deal with those pitches that fall above or below the basic notes-the sharps and flats, or the black keys on a keyboard.
when measuring by degrees, you see that the second, third, sixth, and seventh notes can easily be flattened..

i do know what degrees are and i am familiar with the major and minor scale. but why can the third, sixth, and seventh notes easily be flattened whilst the fourth and fifth can't?

mind you that english is not my native language if the problem seems obvious yo you


I assume you are trying to learn this stuff without a teacher.

Suggestion: Get a teacher.

If that is not possible ... Suggestion: Don't try swallowing all this theoretical stuff so early in your effort. Spend more time reading music and playing music. You will have plenty of time to dive into this theory after you can play a little bit.
I agree here. Not saying you can't understand it, but theory is something you do and if you're not encountering songs where identifying major and minor intervals is necessary, then it hardly makes sense to learn about them. A good teacher wouldn't teach you theory without you first having learned to play it.

Last edited by Morodiene; 06/18/13 10:57 PM.

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#2104665 - 06/18/13 11:22 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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shimmysham, welcome to the piano forum!

I agree with the recommendation to find a teacher if you can, because my teacher is really extraordinary!

Apart from that I think there is more of a LANGUAGE problem than a MUSIC problem. Can you find some music theory information in your native language? Or possibly someone in your town who speaks your language and English and knows a bit about music who can show you what that passage means...

The problem is a little bit like trying to write down how to tie your shoes. It is much easier to demonstrate.


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#2104670 - 06/18/13 11:32 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham

i do know what degrees are and i am familiar with the major and minor scale. but why can the third, sixth, and seventh notes easily be flattened whilst the fourth and fifth can't?

When 4th and 5th are flatted, they are not called minor, they are diminished 4th and diminished 5th.
When 4th and 5th are sharped, they are not called major, they are augmented 4th and augmented 5th.
If they are neither flatted or sharped, they are perfect 4th and perfect 5th.

It appeared you are studying major and minor intervals so that could be the reason why the 4th and 5th intervals are being set aside until later. There may be a separate chapter discussing 4th and 5th intervals. Hope this helps.

Cheers

Last edited by Schubertslieder; 06/18/13 11:35 PM.

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#2104696 - 06/19/13 01:03 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Shimmysham, here's an overview.

First you should get straight what an interval IS, versus what it is CALLED.

So for IS: An interval involves a distance between two notes. When you play CD on the piano, you will see a short distance between two piano keys, but when you play CB on the piano, you will see a large distance. - It is also a sound quality. If you play CD or FG or DE, that sound has a particular quality, maybe edgy to your ear. If you play CG, FC, AE, these have a particular quality, probably smooth. These are what the intervals are.

For the CALLED: This has to do with names, and those names have to do with our notation system and letter names. That is what you have been learning. Why is it important to distinguish? Because as you advance, some of the names will change, but the "is" part remains constant. To help you understand, play this on the piano:
CEb. Notice the sound and which keys you press.
CD#. Again notice the sound and which keys you press.
The "what it is" remains constant. But CEb spans 3 keys so it is a kind of 3rd - a minor 3rd. CD# spans 2 keys so it is a kind of 2nd - an augmented 2nd. Don't worry about these names now. Just take note.

Next we'll go into the names.

#2104700 - 06/19/13 01:24 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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NAMES part (which you are studying).

The named notes go back to history when this was set up and the staff was created. The names are based on the idea of a major key where you get a major scale if you start from the Tonic note (bottom note) of the key for an octave. There are 7 notes, each with its own name. As you've been studying, we get the names of those intervals by always counting up from the bottom note. Those intervals will be called major or perfect. As before

CC' = P1, CD = M2, CE = M3, CF = P4, CG = P5, CA = M6, CB = M7.

We can use the key of C major and the white keys on the piano as a kind of template to help us remember this. It just happens that the piano keys are set up to reflect C major.

You could lower your distance by a "half step" or semitone, so that instead of CD, you have CDb, playing the black key that is to the left of D and sounds a bit lower. When you lower a major interval by a half step, you get a minor interval. Like this.
CD = M2, CDb = m2 (m means minor, M means major)
CE = M3, CEb = m3
CA = M6, CAb = m6
CB = M7, CBb = m7

We can't do this with CC, CF, CG or CC' because they are "perfect" intervals. You can raise or lower them, and then they are called "augmented" and "diminished" respectively. So CG = P5, CG# = aug5, CGb = dim5. This is just to let you know that there is a name for such intervals.

But don't try to remember all that. Start by being able to name your major and perfect intervals, because from there you will be able to name the minors.

This is not good wording in your book:
Quote
the sharps and flats, or the black keys on a keyboard.

They should not call sharps and flats "black keys" because this will confuse you later on when you get to more advanced music. Instead:

First let's define "half step" (semitone) and "whole step" (whole tone). When you play C, then D, notice that you have skipped one key - the black key. You have played a whole step, which is made up of two half steps. D to E also skips a black key, and this is a whole step. But what about E to F? Can you hear that the interval of E to F has a half step sound, like C to C#? A whole step would be E to F#, because then you are skipping one piano key in between.

A flat moves a note down by a half step, going to the left on the piano. It moves to the next key. Eb moves you from E to the next key to the left, which is black. Gb moves you from G to the next key to the left, which is black. But there is such a thing as Cb, which moves you to the next key to the left, which is white - and you usually know this key as B. You will get this in more advanced music. It is best to know now that flats and sharps don't mean "black keys". They mean "move down a half step" or "move up a half step".

#2104773 - 06/19/13 08:04 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: keystring]  
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Quote
[quote]
I think that they theory is talking about NAMING conventions. One problem with intervals is that we have intervals in terms of what they are (distance between two piano keys and a distinct sound quality) and what they are called. Thus CEb and CD# "are" the same thing in terms of how they sound and which piano keys are pressed, but names are different.

The term you can use here is "Enharmonic".......CEb and CD#, same note but different names.

I do not believe a chapter titled "Major and Minor Intervals" will cover 4th and 5th intervals.

4th and 5th intervals are perfect or diminished or augmented.

Cheers


Last edited by Schubertslieder; 06/19/13 08:27 AM.

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#2104775 - 06/19/13 08:06 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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thank you all for the replies!

i now understand that a fourth and fifth can only be diminished or augmented, but i think I'm confused with the fact that it is called major and minor intervals.

the book says a major second is CD, and a minor second is CDb. as far as im concerned CDb is not a part of the C minor scale. so doesn't minor intervals have anything to do with the minor scale? and if i have gotten it right, is a minor interval just a flattened note of the major scale (unless it is a perfect note).

i am btw looking for a piano teacher but it is hard to find in the small town that i live in. im very glad i found this website however!


#2104782 - 06/19/13 08:23 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham
i am btw looking for a piano teacher but it is hard to find in the small town that i live in.


There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of piano teachers who will come to your home (via SKYPE).

Just search the internet or this website for "Piano instruction SKYPE" and you should find multiple options.

Or PM me ... I know (and have used) many of them.


Don

Current: ES8, ProFX8 Mixer, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur
#2104788 - 06/19/13 08:54 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham

i now understand that a fourth and fifth can only be diminished or augmented, but i think I'm confused with the fact that it is called major and minor intervals.

the book says a major second is CD, and a minor second is CDb. as far as im concerned CDb is not a part of the C minor scale. so doesn't minor intervals have anything to do with the minor scale? and if I have gotten it right, is a minor interval just a flattened note of the major scale (unless it is a perfect note).


There is a tricky point, which is very important for you to understand: The major scale is merely a device that was invented to give names to intervals. It is specifically the major scale. It has nothing to do with keys, nothing to do with minor keys. It is like a meter stick that has centimeters, millimeters, meters, and defines kilometers. Maybe hundreds of years ago somebody decided to create a standard length that was the length of his own arm and called it "meter", and then divided it into 100ths to come up with "centimeter". But his arm has nothing to do with what we use today. The meter is simply a standard that we use to measure things. In the same way, the names of majors and minors have their convention because of history - how it came about.

So yes, a piece of music in a minor key that uses the notes of that key will end up having a minor third from the Tonic (1) to the Mediant (3) - example CEb in the key of C minor. But the minor key does not determine the name "minor third". It happens to have a minor third. And that minor third gets its name from the convention outlined previously.

Another way to get at names of intervals is to go by semitones pure and simple. A major third has:
a) involves a total of 3 notes (C,D,E = 3; C,D,Eb = 3)
b) climbs a total of 4 semitones from bottom to top note (C to C# to D to D# to E)
This gets rid of the whole confusion of keys.

One reason for your confusion is that the same name is used for two different things: minor interval, major interval, minor scale, minor interval. Think of it as an accident of language, and keep each distinct - don't try to relate them. You will also run into minor chords later.

These are good questions btw.

#2104792 - 06/19/13 09:10 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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It is also important to note that within a major scale there are only major intervals from the tonic to any note. So in C major C is tonic. From C to any other note within the scale you will have a major intervals. The except to this are the 4th and 5th degrees (F & G in this example), which are perfect intervals from tonic. The same does not hold true for minor scales, which contain both major and minor intervals. So in the case of C minor which contains Eb, Ab and Bb in its natural form, C is still tonic, but from C to D is a major interval - major 2nd. C to Eb is a minor 3rd, C to Ab minor 6th, C to Bb minor 7th. Note that the 4th and 5th degrees are still perfect, they do not change.

Also, our scales weren't exactly invented - not my humans anyways! They are comprised of the acoustic properties of a pitch in the harmonic series which contain all 12 tones. It's interested to read about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_series_(music)


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#2104813 - 06/19/13 10:24 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham
thank you all for the replies!

i now understand that a fourth and fifth can only be diminished or augmented, but i think I'm confused with the fact that it is called major and minor intervals.

the book says a major second is CD, and a minor second is CDb. as far as im concerned CDb is not a part of the C minor scale. so doesn't minor intervals have anything to do with the minor scale? and if i have gotten it right, is a minor interval just a flattened note of the major scale (unless it is a perfect note).

i am btw looking for a piano teacher but it is hard to find in the small town that i live in. im very glad i found this website however!



Maybe for now you just need to separate the interval and the scales. Intervals are simply the distance between two notes and each interval has a sound quality.

As far as scales are concerned - in the case of major/minor. The only scale degrees that will be altered are the 3rd, 6th, and 7th degrees the change the quality of the scale.

I think as you continue to study some of this stuff will become clearer. I remember I would be completely confused about something but then would read something later that would make it all make sense.

So hang in there, you are asking good questions. I think you are like me in a way. When I study this stuff I like to see how it is all connected. Its really cool to figure out all the patterns in music.

One other tip. I have several music theory books because some describe things better than others.

BTW...you might enjoy this site:http://www.musictheory.net/
The music professor where I work recommends it to his students. It has lessons and quizzes.

thumb


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And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
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#2104817 - 06/19/13 10:28 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Great! Now i think i've got it. A last question though, when talking about major or minor intervals, do you always count from the key which the scale is in? In other words, when using the C major scale, would it be wrong to say that E is a major 2nd from D?

#2104822 - 06/19/13 10:50 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham
Great! Now i think i've got it. A last question though, when talking about major or minor intervals, do you always count from the key which the scale is in? In other words, when using the C major scale, would it be wrong to say that E is a major 2nd from D?


I wouldn't think so. But it might be better to say that the interval from D to E is a major 2nd.


Don

Current: ES8, ProFX8 Mixer, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD598 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, JBL LSR305 Powered Monitors, Pianoteq 5,TruePiano,Ravenscroft275,TrueKeys American,Galaxy Vintage D,Ivory II,Alicia's Keys,CFX Concert Grand, The Grandeur
#2104825 - 06/19/13 11:01 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham
Great! Now i think i've got it. A last question though, when talking about major or minor intervals, do you always count from the key which the scale is in? In other words, when using the C major scale, would it be wrong to say that E is a major 2nd from D?


Well I guess that would depend on the situation.

In western music things generally center around the tonic (the first degree/note of the scale/key). So if you are looking at the scale and the quality/size of the intervals you would count from the tonic. But of course within the scale you do have those other intervals from one note to the next-just not sure you would refer to it that often.

However, lets say you have a song you are learning in the key of C and in one measure it goes from D to E then yes you would say that is a major second.

I don't know if that makes any sense of if I just made it more confusing. whome

Last edited by Kymber; 06/19/13 11:02 AM.

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#2104835 - 06/19/13 11:15 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: Kymber]  
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Okey i understand, i guess it isn't necessary to know for now but i was just curious.

#2104836 - 06/19/13 11:18 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Thank you all for the answers and for being so encouraging. Yesterday i felt like an idiot and just felt like giving up on music. Im very glad to have found this website

#2104843 - 06/19/13 11:30 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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The name of an interval is the same no matter what key you are in. Consider D to E. If you are in D major it is a major second. If you are in C major it is a major second. If you are in F major it is a major second. If you are in A minor it is a major second. If you are in B minor it is a major second. And so on.


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#2104846 - 06/19/13 11:33 AM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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shimmysham, please don't feel like an idiot. There's a lot of meaning and information embedded in intervals, scales, and keys, and it takes a while to sort it all out. What can add to the initial confusion is that there are connections between intervals, scales, and keys, but they are not the same as each other, so sorting out what's related and what's different (even when it has a similar sounding name) takes time to sort out as well.


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#2104873 - 06/19/13 12:50 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
shimmysham, please don't feel like an idiot. There's a lot of meaning and information embedded in intervals, scales, and keys, and it takes a while to sort it all out. What can add to the initial confusion is that there are connections between intervals, scales, and keys, but they are not the same as each other, so sorting out what's related and what's different (even when it has a similar sounding name) takes time to sort out as well.


Agreed!
I almost threw in the towel several times but something just made me keep at it and I am glad I did. I find it all fascinating and when I start to get confused I will take a little break, let things sink in and them come back to it.

I think you are doing great. You brain is trying to figure it all out and you are asking some really smart questions. I think you are going to do really well with the theory. Maybe you will teach others some day. laugh



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And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
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#2104882 - 06/19/13 01:21 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham
Great! Now i think i've got it. A last question though, when talking about major or minor intervals, do you always count from the key which the scale is in? In other words, when using the C major scale, would it be wrong to say that E is a major 2nd from D?

The counting from the Tonic of the key is only a beginning step to give you that measuring stick, or a map. Supposing that you take the idea of "major 2nd" = C to D. If you look at those piano keys, you will see that there are 4 semitones or half steps. ALL major 2nds will involve this many half steps. You can use the visual to remember this. 2. It is a "2nd" because it involves a total of two note names, C and D. This lets you understand how interval names work. You can always go back to it.

But say you are looking at D to E in C major. You can look at your checklist: 2 notes in total, so it is some kind of a "2nd". 4 half notes, traveling up 4 piano keys, so major. Therefore major 2nd.

Don't forget about SOUND. Music is sound. So explore these intervals to get used to their qualities. What do major 2nds sound like? How about Perfect 4ths? Start training your ear.

#2104932 - 06/19/13 03:39 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Originally Posted by shimmysham
the third, sixth, and seventh notes easily be flattened


Good evening, Shimmysham.

I'd just like to point out, at the risk of repeating if someone else has already mentioned:

where you use the word note in this phrase you mean to say degree. A note isn't flattened, it is the scale degree that is flattened, producing a different note.

Correct terminology is greatly helpful in understanding things in music.

#2104974 - 06/19/13 05:35 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: Kymber]  
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Originally Posted by Kymber


Agreed!
I almost threw in the towel several times but something just made me keep at it and I am glad I did. I find it all fascinating and when I start to get confused I will take a little break, let things sink in and them come back to it.

I think you are doing great. You brain is trying to figure it all out and you are asking some really smart questions. I think you are going to do really well with the theory. Maybe you will teach others some day. laugh



Thank you, ive now proceeded to read my book and since i now understand the intervals part everything been going smooth. Its funny how i was stuck on one page the whole day yesterday and today I've worked through around 30 with ease. It seems to get easier once you get the basics

Last edited by shimmysham; 06/19/13 05:38 PM.
#2105000 - 06/19/13 06:42 PM Re: major and minor intervals [Re: shimmysham]  
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Another thing about why the fourth and fifth are perfect intervals:
Pick a scale in a major key. Let's say C major, for simplicity reasons.
If now you watch the intervals when the scale is played upwards, counting from the tonic (C) as the lower note, like CD, CE, CF and so on, and give them names, you can get different intervals. CD = second, CE = third, CF = fourth...

If now you play the intervals and use the tonic as the upper note, you get BC, AC, GC (C from the upper octave)..., and you can still name them second, third, fourth... But the sound of the interval has different qualities. The second, third, sixth and seventh are majors when played upwards from the tonic (tonic is lower note), and minors when played downwards from the tonic (tonic is upper note). The fourth and fifth keep their tonal quality, and are therefore perfect intervals.

Hope this wasn't too confusing...


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