Hi all

Just a quick theory question.....

In the both the major and minor scales, the interval from the root to the second note is a whole tone.

So why in music theory do we distinguish between major 2nds (2 semitones) and minor 2nds (1 semitone).

Sorry of it is a basic question but I just don't see the logic (yet).

Many thanks

Max
I don't like the term but a "minor second" refers to the interval between two notes rather than a scale degree. It is a space of a semitone. It doesnt matter what scale/key the notes are in the context of, it's any two. For example the interval between the 7 and root in the major scale is a minor 2nd. Pretty confusing terminology.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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Hi all

Just a quick theory question.....

In the both the major and minor scales, the interval from the root to the second note is a whole tone.

So why in music theory do we distinguish between major 2nds (2 semitones) and minor 2nds (1 semitone).

Sorry of it is a basic question but I just don't see the logic (yet).

Many thanks

Max

The minor scale is irrelevant to naming an interval.

When naming an interval the MAJOR scale is the only relevant scale and that is because it is made up of all major and perfect intervals.

A minor interval is simply a Major interval that has been lowered a semitone.

Hence a major second is C up to D or E up to F# (a distance of a whole tone - or two semitones)

If we lower a major second by one semitone it is a minor second. Because that's what a minor interval is - a major interval lowered by one semitone. So if we lower a major second by one semitone then the interval (a minor second) is the distance of one semitone.

Hope that makes sense.

So a minor third is simply a Major third lowered one semitone. Thus a Major third is C to E and a minor third would be that interval lowered by one semitone C to Eb.

The minor intervals are not named because of the minor scale. The minor scale is called minor because the triad built off the root is minor (Root minor third perfect fifth). So in a way the minor scale is called minor because it has a minor third interval.

Hope that helps.

EDIT:
Also why do we distinguish between major and minor seconds if both scales use the major second? Answer: Because both scales also contain minor seconds.

{What AlanHB pointed out above - to elaborate...}
Not all intervals are from the root of the scale. You can also have intervals within the scale from any scale degree to another.

So in the C major scale we have C D E F G A B C.

There are two minor seconds in this scale - between E and F (one semitone) and between B and C once semitone.

Similarly C minor scale is C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

There are two minor seconds in this scale - between D and Eb and between G and Ab.

An interval is the distance between two notes.

The interval's quantity (number) is determined by how many letters from one to the other. (Any kind of C to any kind of D is always some kind of second)

The interval's quality is determined by the number of semitones.
C to D is a major second (two letters = second; two semitones = major second)
C to D# is an augmented second (two letters = second; three semitones = augmented second)

C to E is a major third (three letters (C D E) = third; four semitones = major third
C to Eb is a minor third (three letters (C D E) = third; three semitones = minor third

Notice that the augmented second and the minor third both have three semitones, what we call it (augmented second or minor third) depends on the note names (letters).

Probably a bit more than you were looking for but basically - the interval is a measurement of distance between two notes. We treat one note a the root when describing an interval, but it may not be the root or tonic of the diatonic scale we are in.

Peace
Si
Quote by 20Tigers

Probably a bit more than you were looking for

Not in the slightest. It was the perfect explanation and very much appreciated. All makes total sense. Many thanks for taking the time.
It's because minor also means small and major also means big. Minor and major don't refer to the scales in this case. In Finnish we call a minor 2nd a small 2nd and a major second a big 2nd. We have different words for the scales/keys/chords.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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Interval qualities:

Unison - perfect (diminished/augmented very rare)

2nds - Major, minor

3rds - Major, minor

4ths - Perfect, augmented (diminished 4th is very rare)

5ths - Perfect, diminished, augmented

6ths - major, minor, sometimes augmented

7ths - major, minor, diminished

Octave - perfect (diminished/augmented very rare).
Quote by AlanHB
I don't like the term but a "minor second" refers to the interval between two notes rather than a scale degree. It is a space of a semitone. It doesnt matter what scale/key the notes are in the context of, it's any two. For example the interval between the 7 and root in the major scale is a minor 2nd. Pretty confusing terminology.

Don't let it throw you. Everything in that IS related to a Major scale. That's our backbone, so yes, it does refer to a scale degree, whether its a deviation of it or otherwse, at the core it's based around the Major scale.

In a Major Scale all the intervals are Major or else Perfect:

The maj2 maj3 P4 P5 Maj6 and Maj7. Therefore a min2 is a half step below whatever the maj2 is. The scale degree is also important for proper naming constructs. For example a min2 of G is Ab not G#.

For that reason its important to appreciate that it's not just a fret interval, but an actual necessity that the Major scale is seen as the absolute construct upon which theory is predicated.

Best,

Sean
^^^ I won't let it throw me - I'll ignore its existence so it won't.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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