Rockers! Welcome back. I hope you're fired up, and ready to take over the world with your growing knowledge of theory.
Are you ready to learn?! I said, Are you ready to learn?!
Good! Grab an energy drink, sit back, and shake with an overcharge of caffeine while we tackle a great topic.
In this article, we'll examine the basic building block of music, the interval. What is an interval? It's the difference in pitch between two notes. In other words, the distance (on the fretboard, or keyboard) between two notes.
We've got two kinds of intervals:
A Harmonic interval would refer to two notes played at the same time (such as a power chord, for you rock inclined.)
A Melodic interval would reference two notes played successively, such as in a scale. Do - re - me, folks.
We'll be learning about both.
Why should you care?
Knowin' yo' stuff with intervals will help you:
Understand and build chords.
Understand and build scales.
Understand and apply dissonance and consonance. (Tension and resolution.)
Harmonize lines for a way cool dual guitar attack!
Create truly spooky, or angelic, sounds.
Most importantly, help you understand more advanced theory concepts. Intervals are the beginning, and this location is widely accepted as a good place to start.
The interval is the building block, so let's learn on!
They follow a predictable pattern, with a little bit of zaniness in the middle:
From the note A:
A to A Unison A to Bb minor 2nd A to B Major 2nd A to C minor 3rd A to C# Major 3rd A to D Perfect 4th A to Eb Diminished 5th (Also known as a Flatted 5th) A to E Perfect 5th A to F minor 6th A to F# Major 6th A to G minor 7th A to G# Major 7th A to A Octave
A pattern emerges: minor, Major, minor, Major. Except for the Perfect-Diminished-Perfect sequence around the 4th, flatted 5th, and 5th, everything is minor, Major, minor, Major.
Once we reach the note 12 half steps higher than we started, we end up with the Octave. Oct means eight, and if we were counting scale tones, we would arrive at the same letter every eight notes: Check it out:
The A Major Scale:
A B C# D E F# G A
A is the 1st, and 8th, letter of our sequence. That's where the oct comes from. (Just ask any octagonally shaped octopus.)
Here's a chart of what the intervals look like on the guitar.
By the way, if you play the notes individually, as written, they would be Melodic intervals, and simultaneously they would be harmonic intervals. (By the way, don't worry too much about this red tape if it doesn't make sense. It's a classification, and not something to be overly concerned with at this point.)
Applications, And Homework
Now that you've got the sound and feel of the intervals under your hands, let's do something with them.
First off, recognize that the examples just given were from A, but can be from any note.
Secondly, yes, you have to memorize the names and how to play them. The shapes vary slightly depending on which string you're on (the shapes from the 3rd and 2nd strings are slightly different.) Yet another reason to learn the notes on your guitar! You'll get it, don't worry.
Next, we want to be able to see these, but more importantly, we want to be able to hear the different intervals. I highly recommend Ricci Adams' website for this. The free interval ear trainer is awesome. Use it. Yes, SIR! I vow to educate myself, and better my ear. I will try the interval ear trainer.
(And don't have your guitar anywhere nearby! Just you and your ear.)
And if you get confused with the ear trainer, check out the guide I wrote on my Blog.
So what are intervals used for? To build chords and scales, for starters! A major chord is built from harmonic intervals (notes played at the same time.) A Major 3rd plus a minor 3rd, to be exact.
A scale is built from a series of melodic intervals (Intervals played one after another.)
We'll cover chord construction in the next lesson, so hang tough. And yes, scales will be addressed as well. Fear not, fearless ones!
While you're waiting, and want to add some scary sounds to your playing, try experimenting with the minor 2nd and diminished 5th intervals. Spooky, indeed. Especially that diminished 5th.
So, your to-do list looks like this:
01. Memorize interval names.
02. Apply them to your guitar.
03. Start training your ear with the interval ear trainer - and don't cheat by using your guitar.
04. Experiment with different intervals.
05. Eagerly await the next installment of The Crusade
06. Be excited that you're learning theory. It's one of the best things you can do for your musicianship.
Don't forget to check out my blog.
Copyright 2008 Josh Urban - All Rights Reserved
Josh Urban (photo) is a musician with a unique perspective on music. Always a thinker, he gains insight wherever he can find it, be it in the clubs as a working musician, busking on the city streets, or teaching in the classroom. A naturally enthusiastic fellow, Josh is always fired up about bringing the lessons he's learned to his readers. Maintaining a website, a blog, and a monthly newsletter, he aims to make musicians stop, think, and play with a little more intensity, integrity, and inspiration. You never know who's listening.