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Crazyedd123
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Why do we refer to the half-tone interval as a minor 2nd when it doesn't actually appear in the major or minor scale?
As in, both the major and minor scale have a minor 2nd as the first interval. There's no minor 2nd unless you base it from a mode.

I mean, it's not like I don't know a bit about scales and theory, but it just seems like an odd thing to do.
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C is the tonic, D is the (major) second. If we make it flat, Db, then we have a minor second.

Who cares if it doesn't appear in a scale? Scales are made up of intervals, intervals don't come from scales.
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Quote by rockingamer2
C is the tonic, D is the (major) second. If we make it flat, Db, then we have a minor second.

Who cares if it doesn't appear in a scale? Scales are made up of intervals, intervals don't come from scales.

it's a legitimate question, since variable qualities of intervals (major or minor) typically are used in the appropriate scale, but the 2nd interval doesn't. if you're just getting into intervals, it can be confusing.

just consider it a nomenclatural anomaly, TS. you can say diminished 2nd as well - this helps a lot when going from scales->intervals in a curriculum - but it's just one of those things.
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Crazyedd123
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Quote by rockingamer2
C is the tonic, D is the (major) second. If we make it flat, Db, then we have a minor second.

Who cares if it doesn't appear in a scale? Scales are made up of intervals, intervals don't come from scales.

I know, but it's just that you have stuff like Aug. 4th and Dim. 5th.

I just wonder why they didn't call the minor 2nd a diminished 2nd instead
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food1010
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I don't know the formal reason, but my guess is that perfect 4ths and 5ths give a scale/chord a certain sense of stability. The minor 2nd doesn't really compromise any stability (or at least not in the same way as a diminished fifth or augmented fourth).
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Quote by Crazyedd123
I know, but it's just that you have stuff like Aug. 4th and Dim. 5th.

I just wonder why they didn't call the minor 2nd a diminished 2nd instead

At its most basic, a musical interval, is a simple measure of distance. So, a "minor 2nd", is a semitone differential between notes.

It doesn't matter where it happens. For example, a "minor 3rd" is 3 semi tones.

The fact that a "diminished chord", is a series of "stacked minor 3rds", bears this out. It need not relate to scale degree.
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I've wondered this too. We refer to the notes that determine minor or major scales as minor or major intervals, and we refer to notes that don't as perfect, diminished, or augmented. With the only exception being the 2nd, where instinctively I would use the terms perfect 2nd and diminished 2nd, but we actually call it major 2nd and minor 2nd.
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I've never heard a really solid answer to this, but I can tell you that after a while it becomes intuitive to think of it that way. It becomes easier when you realize that interval names aren't derived from scales and that fourths/fifths aren't called perfect because they appear in both the major and minor scales.
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Crazyedd123
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Quote by jazz_rock_feel
I've never heard a really solid answer to this, but I can tell you that after a while it becomes intuitive to think of it that way. It becomes easier when you realize that interval names aren't derived from scales and that fourths/fifths aren't called perfect because they appear in both the major and minor scales.

Hmm, so why are 4ths and 5ths referred to as perfect?
I can understand the octave being referred to as perfect because it it the exact pitch of the root note, only an octave higher.
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jazz_rock_feel
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It's more historical. having to do with what was considered "perfectly consonant." Basically, the physics behind it is that fourths and fifths (and octaves) have very simple ratios, in the case of a fourth 5:4 and a fifth 3:2 (the octave is obviously 2:1). That makes them sound arguably consonant and in the ye olde days they were the only harmonic intervals accepted as perfectly consonant, 3rds and 6ths were called (any guesses?) imperfect consonances.
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Quote by food1010
The minor 2nd doesn't really compromise any stability (or at least not in the same way as a diminished fifth or augmented fourth).

it does, however, compromise stability in the sense that a major 7th does. the instability caused with the tritone is because of the interval being the average of an octave, while that same relationship is shared (to some extent) with the major 7th and minor 2nd. their relation to the tonic, without further context, can cause confusion - is it C with a major 7th or B with a minor 2?
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Quote by Crazyedd123
I know, but it's just that you have stuff like Aug. 4th and Dim. 5th.

I just wonder why they didn't call the minor 2nd a diminished 2nd instead

Cause a diminished second is the enharmonical equivalant of a unisone.

B to Cb is a diminished second.
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Quote by Hail
it does, however, compromise stability in the sense that a major 7th does. the instability caused with the tritone is because of the interval being the average of an octave, while that same relationship is shared (to some extent) with the major 7th and minor 2nd. their relation to the tonic, without further context, can cause confusion - is it C with a major 7th or B with a minor 2?
The same paradox exists between a Isus2 and the corresponding Vsus4. (And in other places as well, m7 or M6).

However, I find it fascinating, that nobody can accept the fact that idiomatic expressions can exist within musical terminology. Everything modern musicians describe relates back to the tonal structure of the major scale. And yes, even musicians who campaign against learning scales indulge in that referencing methodology.

It gives one pause to wonder if that is a hypocrisy or a conceit. But, here again, one tends to get bogged down in terminology....

So, suppose we say that the term, "minor 2nd" actually means "flat 2nd", which would attach back to the major scale structure.

At the end of the day, I prefer calling that interval a "Phrygian 2nd", as that's where I find it's most useful. That said, the term "Phrygian 2nd", attaches to it's scalar nature, and not to it's harmonic.
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Quote by Crazyedd123
Why do we refer to the half-tone interval as a minor 2nd when it doesn't actually appear in the major or minor scale?
As in, both the major and minor scale have a minor 2nd as the first interval. There's no minor 2nd unless you base it from a mode.

I mean, it's not like I don't know a bit about scales and theory, but it just seems like an odd thing to do.

There are 12 possible notes. Not all of them are in the major scale.

However the major scale is the reference point for naming most things and this is true for intervals. It doesn't mean those things have to be in the major scale it is just how they relate to the major scale that we are noting when we name it.

So we have a Major scale consisting of all major and perfect intervals - when measured from the root. But there are also intervals between the different intervals between the various scale degrees.

There are minor second intervals in the major and minor scales. If we look at the major scale then going from the Major third to the Perfect Fourth is an interval of a minor second.

In C major this is from E to F. It's some kind of second because E is one and F is two. It is one semitone and so E to F is a minor second.

Similarly in the key of Ab the third is C the fourth is Db the interval between the major third (C) and the Perfect Fourth (Db) is a minor second (b2).
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Quote by 20Tigers

There are minor second intervals in the major and minor scales. If we look at the major scale then going from the Major third to the Perfect Fourth is an interval of a minor second.

In C major this is from E to F. It's some kind of second because E is one and F is two. It is one semitone and so E to F is a minor second.
Keep in mind I attached a definition of, "an interval", being, "a musical distance", not a scale degree several posts ago.

With that aside, referring to the C major scale; verily thou hast lauded E to F, yet slighted B to C. Surely, you would agree that, "all minor seconds are created equal, in the eyes of man, the law, and God.....
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Quote by Captaincranky
Keep in mind I attached a definition of, "an interval", being, "a musical distance", not a scale degree several posts ago.

With that aside, referring to the C major scale; verily thou hast lauded E to F, yet slighted B to C. Surely, you would agree that, "all minor seconds are created equal, in the eyes of man, the law, and God.....

alas no slight was intended.

And I agree an interval is a musical distance not a scale degree which fits with what I said. The distance between the third scale degree and the fourth scale degree is not itself a scale degree it is a musical distance.

As you say intervals are not scale degrees they are musical distances. But they are named in relation to the scale degrees of the major scale. But that is all.
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Quote by Crazyedd123
Why do we refer to the half-tone interval as a minor 2nd when it doesn't actually appear in the major or minor scale?
As in, both the major and minor scale have a minor 2nd as the first interval. There's no minor 2nd unless you base it from a mode.

I mean, it's not like I don't know a bit about scales and theory, but it just seems like an odd thing to do.

If you don't like it then use augmented unison instead.
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It makes enough sense to me. Minor just means narrower. The minor second is the narrower of the seconds occuring between consecutive diatonic notes. It's the necessity of referring to fourths and fifths as perfect that I question, but they are the most fundamental after the octave.

In other tuning schemes, there are even major and minor whole tones, but that's a different topic.
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My 2¢:

Everyone seems to be in agreement that the 7th interval should be divided into major/minor. Well the 2nd interval is the inversion of a 7th, so doesn't it stand to reason that it should correspond to the same major/minor division?
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Right, all nontrivial intervals appear in one of two different varieties within the diatonic scale, and major and minor are as good of terms as any to distinguish them. This applies to the fourth and fifth as well, but their variants only show up once, so their more common forms are traditionally elevated to perfect status.
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Quote by J-Dawg158
My 2¢:

Everyone seems to be in agreement that the 7th interval should be divided into major/minor. Well the 2nd interval is the inversion of a 7th, so doesn't it stand to reason that it should correspond to the same major/minor division?
Part of this issue is couched in idiomatic expression, and not anything much deeper than that.

My normal "vernacular" expression of the 7th interval is a natural 7th or flat 7th. However, when I'm being lazy, I call the chord where the b7 is always found, a "V7", and I expect I'll be understood by a majority of reasonably well versed musicians.

However, I would call the distance between a natural 7th and the octave root, "a minor 2nd".

The first post of this thread was phrased a bit antagonistically, and as happens somewhat historically here, (IMO), "troll threads get the most airplay".
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Quote by Captaincranky

The first post of this thread was phrased a bit antagonistically

No it wasn't.
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Quote by Captaincranky
Part of this issue is couched in idiomatic expression, and not anything much deeper than that.

My normal "vernacular" expression of the 7th interval is a natural 7th or flat 7th. However, when I'm being lazy, I call the chord where the b7 is always found, a "V7", and I expect I'll be understood by a majority of reasonably well versed musicians.

However, I would call the distance between a natural 7th and the octave root, "a minor 2nd".

The first post of this thread was phrased a bit antagonistically, and as happens somewhat historically here, (IMO), "troll threads get the most airplay".

he just said that

how the hell have you mastered the art of making a post saying nothing with nothing but a 9th grade vocabulary and a terrible sense of diction at your disposal
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he just said that

how the hell have you mastered the art of making a post saying nothing with nothing but a 9th grade vocabulary and a terrible sense of diction at your disposal
Take your post to anyone familiar with the English language. They'll tell you that it's a run on sentence, improperly punctuated and capitalized, and it doesn't actually meet 9th grade standards.
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Quote by Captaincranky
Take this post to anyone familiar with the English language. They'll tell you that it's a run on sentence, improperly punctuated and capitalized, and it doesn't actually meet 9th grade standards.

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WUZZUP HOMES... I see we dun gotz us seff a new kutsie pi bideo.

But what does it have to do with the topic?
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Quote by Crazyedd123
Why do we refer to the half-tone interval as a minor 2nd when it doesn't actually appear in the major or minor scale?
As in, both the major and minor scale have a minor 2nd as the first interval. There's no minor 2nd unless you base it from a mode.

I mean, it's not like I don't know a bit about scales and theory, but it just seems like an odd thing to do.

The system by which we numerically label scale degrees is based on the major scale. 4, 5th, and 8va are perfect - the rest of the intervals are major. Thusly, if anything major interval is compressed it becomes "minor". If a perfect interval becomes compressed its "diminished" if its raised it's "augmented".

There are many musical terms that mean different things in different contexts...you seem to be oddly taking issues with one thats of little to no consequence. But to take the bait...phrygian has a minor 2nd, and it's a minor scale.
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Quote by chronowarp
But to take the bait...phrygian has a minor 2nd, and it's a minor scale.
You bet! And the minor second makes it even more minor!. (Assuming such a thing is even possible)...

As a side note, I'm glad I'm not the only one who interpreted the OP as, "bait"...
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Quote by Crazyedd123
Why do we refer to the half-tone interval as a minor 2nd when it doesn't actually appear in the major or minor scale?

Sure they occur:

III > IV, VII > I - Major
II > III, V > VI - Natural Minor
II > III, V > VI, VII > I - Harmonic Minor
II > III, VII > I - Ascending Melodic Minor

even if they don't occur as intervals from the Tonic.

As for why they're called Minor Seconds - it's because Major is Latin for 'Large', and Minor is Latin for 'Smaller'. A minor second (in fact any minor interval) is minor because it's smaller than the larger Major interval, not because it has anything to do with the Major / Minor scale.

I don't doubt that it's handy for people to think of Major IIIrds and Minor IIIrds as the reason why things are major and minor, but that ain't the reason why those intervals are so named.
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Why can't it be called an augmented 1st
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As for why they're called Minor Seconds - it's because Major is Latin for 'Large', and Minor is Latin for 'Smaller'. A minor second (in fact any minor interval) is minor because it's smaller than the larger Major interval, not because it has anything to do with the Major / Minor scale.
Indeed! In the sky we have "Canis Major", (big dog_, and Canis Minor", Little dog.

And...., in darker, muskier places, we occasionally encounter, "Labia Majora", and "Labia Minora".....
Quote by skilly1
Why can't it be called an augmented 1st
Well it can, silly goose! YOU can call it anything you like. Just make sure not to wimp out. and vehemently defend your right to do so, through the seven pages of MT thread that are sure to result.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Sep 27, 2012,
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Quote by skilly1
Why can't it be called an augmented 1st

Are you really playing the root note (the I note) of the key or scale if you're not playing the note of resolution?
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First of all, honestly, always remember that a lot of these naming conventions are historical, and there isn't particularly a "why" which is relevant to the way we play music, but the names persist. Asking "why is this called that?" can take you down a wasteful rabbit hole.

That being said, bear in mind that "major" "minor" and "perfect" are names which have their origins in sounds. Major sounds emotionally one way, minor another, perfect is neutral.

A major second is called a major second because it's a second (eg adjacent letters in the alphabet) which has major emotional qualities. A minor second is an interval of a second (adjacent letters) which has minor emotional qualities.

We sometimes refer to major as "happy" and minor as "sad" but those are metaphors used to help people hear the difference. As you gain experience, you'll realize that minor doesn't sound sad, it sounds minor.

As somebody else pointed out, a perfect interval inverts to a perfect interval, a major to a minor, and a minor to a major.

Put the above facts together and it's abundantly clear why a major 2nd is called a major second. But this is one of the rare cases where "why is it called that?" is easily answerable in non-historical terms.
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^It's funny that you warned against a going down a rabbit hole and then went tumbling down a particularly winding one yourself by assigning certain emotional qualities to intervals that simply aren't there. Interval names refer to distances between notes. Minor is less distance than major, end of. As to why they're called what they are, as you said, it's a historical naming convention that isn't particularly important.
I don't know what music theory is.

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Quote by jazz_rock_feel
^It's funny that you warned against a going down a rabbit hole and then went tumbling down a particularly winding one yourself by assigning certain emotional qualities to intervals that simply aren't there. Interval names refer to distances between notes. Minor is less distance than major, end of. As to why they're called what they are, as you said, it's a historical naming convention that isn't particularly important.

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This got weird...
I don't know what music theory is.

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Quote by Captaincranky
And...., in darker, muskier places, we occasionally encounter, "Labia Majora", and "Labia Minora"

Major and Minor axes of an eclipse, Major & Minor arcs, Major and Minor challenges, ...

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Quote by skilly1
Why can't it be called an augmented 1st

That's like asking "Why can't the moon be called 'Nigel'?". The answer is: It can be called Nigel (no-one's stopping you), but if you want to be understood by other astronomers (and you don't want them to laugh at you behind your back) you'd be better off adopting the more-or-less universally accepted term for the celestial object. It's just the same in music. If you want you can name each interval individually with your favourite pet names ('Marge', 'Betsy', 'Hilary', ...). No-one will understand you and it will make communication with other musicians really difficult but if it makes you happy go right ahead.

If what you mean is "Why do we say minor 2nd and not augmented 1st?" the reason is because intervals are named by counting the number of pitch-names, inclusive of the start and end pitch-names. The only pitch-names are A, B, C, D, E, F and G (unless you're European - don't go there) - C# is still counted as C, Cb is still counted as C. So - from A to C we count 'A', 'B', 'C' - three pitch-names, so that's a 3rd (a minor 3rd). From A to C# we count 'A', 'B', 'C#' - three pitch-names, so that's a 3rd (a major 3rd).

Coming back to your question, then: An augmented 1st contains one pitch-name, while a minor 2nd contains two. For example:

C - C# - we count 'C' to 'C' - that's one pitch-name so it's a first (or a 'unison') and because one of those C's is sharp it's an augmented first (or augmented unison);
C - Db - we count 'C' to 'D' - that's two pitch-names so it's a second, and because the D is flattened it's a minor 2nd.

Maybe that strikes you as mad, maybe it isn't the best system, but that's the system we have (for a variety of historical reasons) and if you want to talk musician that's just the way you have to talk.
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Ok thanks,

I'm reading a book on chord tone soloing, i was struggling to understand the interval bit. In theory, the quality of the interval seems confusing to grasp for me, but the interval distance makes sense and I understand it practically,
Like you said, that's the system used between musicians and is the language used to discuss intervals between musicians, that's all I wanted to know actually!

Ps: why is my signature link showing the actual video instead of just the link, anyone , it's never done that before,

Thanks
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Quote by skilly1
Ok thanks,

I'm reading a book on chord tone soloing, i was struggling to understand the interval bit. In theory, the quality of the interval seems confusing to grasp for me, but the interval distance makes sense and I understand it practically,
Like you said, that's the system used between musicians and is the language used to discuss intervals between musicians, that's all I wanted to know actually!

Ps: why is my signature link showing the actual video instead of just the link, anyone , it's never done that before,

Thanks

The why's of intervals make much better sense when reading them from standard notation, which like sleepy head said makes it more of a historic or traditional kind of thing.

& apparently UG is now able to embed youtube vids.
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