Interval is the distance between the two notes, count from the bottom notes to the top. It is an important skill from ear training, music transcription, musical intonation and sight-reading.
There are total of 5 types intervals in music theory, such as Major, Minor, Perfect, Augmented and Diminished, but we commonly use only Major or Minor intervals. I have included the interval chart and songs examples to represent each popular interval. Of course, you can always have your own “intervals’ library to get yourself more familiar with them.
Anything more than the 8th interval, we classified them as compound 9th, 10th, 11th, etc.
We can actually understand the intervals by counting the steps (semitones/half tone) as well, for example
- m2 – 1 step
- M2 – 2 steps
- m3 – 3 steps
- M3 – 4 steps
- P4 – 5 steps
- A4 – 6 steps
- P5 – 7 steps
- m6 – 8 steps
- M6 – 9 steps
- m7 – 10 steps
- M7 – 11 steps
- P8 – 12 steps
There’s good or bad using this chart. Good thing is the accuracy of getting the right intervals are higher, bad side is you have to memorize these steps.
So how do we actually know the relationship between the two notes?
- You have to count the step between the two notes.
- Then treat every root note as a Major Key. and check if there’s accidentals.
- If the question is in Minor Key then change it to relative Major Key. (Optional)
- Ask yourself from point A to point B is a true or false statement? If true will be either major/perfect, if false either will be minor, augmented, or diminished.
Question 1: From the note C to E.
- C to E is three steps (C > D > E), so is a 3rd interval.
- C major doesn’t have any accidentals.
- C to E is a true statement, therefore it will be either Perfect or Major 3rd. Because Perfect Interval are only for 4th, 5th and 8ve. So we only can choose Major 3rd.
Question 2: From the note A to D#.
- A to D is four steps (A > B > C > D), so is a 4th interval.
- A major has F#, C#, G# only.
- A to D# is a false statement, therefore it will be either minor, diminished, augmented.
- Due to the reason, D# is raising note, therefore we will pick Augmented 4th instead.
Minor 2nd – Reflection (Mulan) (G#, A, B – Look at Me)
Major 2nd – Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Lion King)
(G, A, Bb – There’s a come)
Minor 3rd – Viking Theme (How To Train Your Dragon – John Powell) (first two notes)
Major 3rd – When the Saints Go Marching In (Louis Armstrong)
Perfect 4th – How Far I’ll Go (Moana)
Perfect 5th – Superman (John Williams)
Minor 6th – Windy Hill (Kiki’s Delivery Service) (B > G – Main Theme)
Major 6th – Dashing to the Snow
Perfect 8th – Somewhere over the Rainbow (Ab – Ab, somewhere)
If you need more interval exercises, feel free to click here for more!