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Intervals in Music. Episode 1

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

Hi thank you for joining me. My name is Chris from Chris at the Piano and Music Academy Hub and this is episode one in our new series intervals in music, how to understand intervals.

You'll need to understand the Circle of Fifths or the major scale key signatures; you'll also need the Alto clef and the Tenor clef for the worksheet.

All the details are on the worksheet where you can find the episodes on the Circle of Fifths or Understanding the Clefs.

If you need to check those first do please check them out and then come back to this video.

On the worksheet we have this bar written out and this is the one we're going to be looking at today.

This video is on seconds, thirds, sixths and sevenths. These are the intervals that we will be looking at; we don't need the first note as it's the same as the second note.

Now when we look at the interval we have two things; we have a number which is a second a third a fourth etc we have a classification which is a major or minor diminished or augmented.

So to start off with the number first, from C to D. You'll notice that I've put C first even though it's the second note in the music. That's because when we work out an interval we always go from the lowest note up to the highest note. When we build the foundation of the ground floor first and then work our way up. The second interval we're going to be looking at is this one which is the lowest note A and the highest note C.

So between C and D there are no other notes they're next door to each other on the keyboard which means it's the interval of a second.

Now the letters A and C are not next to each other in the alphabet nor are they next to each other on the keyboard there's one in the middle so let's just write that one in here and we can see we've got three letter names which means it's the interval of a third.

The reason I do it this way is I've had many pupils over the years who've forgotten to count the first note they've gone okay so we're going from A so that's B, C, and it's very habitual for us to count like, that you need to count the first note in the interval as well as the ones after it by writing them out like this you count the letter names.

So second and third all is good so far now we've got to look at how to quantify what that interval is major minor etc so “Is the top note in the major scale of the bottom note?” this is why you need to know your scales is D in the major scale of C, so if you grab your instrument or go to your instrument and just play C major

Did you play a D after the C?

Well yes, C major is all white notes so you will have done so D is in the major scale of C, all the white notes if you play it on a keyboard. (If you play it on a different instrument obviously it changes.) So is the top note in the major scale, yes! It is therefore the interval is a major second because the D is in the major scale of C.

Let's try it for the next one A to C. A major; is C in the major scale of A. A major has three sharps F sharp, C sharp and G sharp, check it on your instrument.

When you play the major scale you play a C sharp so C is not in the major scale of A it's C sharp, so, no it's not.

Is C natural a semitone higher than C sharp? No it's not C natural is a semitone lower than C sharp, so that's not right, no.

Is it a semitone lower (than the major scale note)? Yes it is C sharp to C you go down by a half step, so yes. The interval is minor so A to C natural is a minor third.

so the major third would be there the minor third there you can hear it's a little bit lower.

Now some might people might say okay so C is in a minor scale and that's another way that you can look at it, but i find it's easiest for me and my pupils to follow a basic flow chart that fits every single question.

So we've put that on the worksheet that you can download to go with this (episode).

First off we discuss this frame this bar here and then on page two you have a blank flow chart so you can print out as many as you want of these if you need to do one for each interval or you could laminate it and use a wipe-on wipe off pen if you want to save paper which i recommend.

On this side we've worked it out for you for these two intervals then on the back page, you knew it was coming, here we go some intervals for you to work out we've got flats in here we've got sharps we've got double flats and double sharps so if you're not familiar with double flats and double sharps don't worry they're not that bad do check out the video on the website for double sharps and double flats.

A little thing at the bottom: remember you're going from the lowest note to the highest note, always the lowest to the highest.

So to recap intervals

Is the top note in the major scale of the bottom note?

That's all you need to remember for today, oh and of course don't forget your circle of fifths. Do go and check it out if you would like to download the worksheet the details are down below in the comments. If you would like a lesson on Skype or Zoom or Whatsapp or whatever intervals because you're still not too sure but you're not quite there do drop me a message or leave a comment below and myself or one of my team will get back to you to help you with that one.

Thank you for joining me I hope this has been helpful don't forget to like and subscribe and I'll see you for episode two next week bye for now.

Download the worksheet from this link

Listen to the transcript on Anchor FM

If you would prefer just the audio it is available on Spotify, Breaker, Google podcasts, and Pocket Casts.

The images to go with the audio file are as follows. To save load time, please click on the image to open a larger version in a new tab. This can be saved to study off line if required.

Board 1: The bar used in the video.

Board 2: The flow chart

You have watched the video - grab the worksheet


Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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