Hello,

I am recently started learning music theory, I am currently learning intervals and have
a few questions that I was wondering if someone could clear up for me

- A interval is defined as the distance between two notes right ?, but is

- is this the distance between two notes in a specific
scale for example : the distance between C and E is a Major 3rd in the C major scale
when you ascend upwards

- or the distance between C and E universally when you ascend upwards ?, because if you take the F major scale for example , the distance between c and E is three notes, but the interval is not a Major 3rd because C is not the root note, F is.

- Are intervals calculated in the same way for all notes including flats/sharps ?,
if I want to calculate the 3rd for C, I know its E but what if I want to calculate it
for C# ? how many tones/semitones should I add ?

- Jake
Intervals exist outside of scales.

There are longer explanations of this out there, but basically, when we talk about minor, diminished, major and augmented intervals we're talking about the interval size, not how they relate to a scale.

C to E is always a major third, regardless of what scale it's in, and C to Eb is always a minor third.

A major third is always 4 half steps, a minor third is always 3 half steps, a perfect 5th is always 7 half steps, a major 7th is always 11 half steps, etc. It doesn't matter from which note to which note you're going.
I don't know what music theory is.

The interval is the distance between two notes. The label is universal depending on the note names and the distance in semitones between the two notes.

Here's a couple of links to a long explanation I typed out back in April. It attempts to explain intervals in detail...
Intervals part 1
Intervals part 2
Some people found it useful, some found it overwhelming. I never did get round to condensing it

Best of Luck though, hope it helps.
Si
What they said. C to E is always 4 semitones/major third.

It actually might be helpful to look at a piano/keyboard. The notes are laid out very logically, with no overlaps, unlike on a guitar. Maybe I'm biased because I played piano first, but when I think note-based music theory I'm still thinking of a piano in the back of my mind
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Hi everyone,

Thanks a lot for the replies, I sat down in front of my key board and
I think I pretty much get it. One question though, intervals are not dependent on ascending
or descending direction a they ? . So for example C to E is a third but so is E to C right ?

- Jake
Intervals describe the distance of two notes in relation to the lowest note.
So a C up to an E will be a major 3rd.
but an E up to a C will be a minor 6th
You just need to learn the chromatic scale and you'll understand intervals better. Don't think about major/minor scales. The interval between two notes is always the same and you want to look at the chromatic scale.

Oh, and remember that the interval between C sharp/natural/flat and E sharp/natural/flat is always a third. From C# to Eb there's a third, it's just a diminished third (it sounds like a major second but it's not - it's a third because it's between C and E).

And don't forget to learn the sound of different intervals. A major third always sounds like a major third. It doesn't matter if you play C and E or D and F#. Both intervals sound the same. Sound is the most important thing in music and I think many people take it for granted and kind of forget it. Learning the sound needs to be emphasized.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Sep 24, 2013,
Quote by jake.wallflower
Hi everyone,

Thanks a lot for the replies, I sat down in front of my key board and
I think I pretty much get it. One question though, intervals are not dependent on ascending
or descending direction a they ? . So for example C to E is a third but so is E to C right ?

- Jake

Well yes they are and no they are not.

They are dependant on the DISTANCE.

So if you are measuring from a C UP to an E then the distance is three letter names (C D E) which makes it some kind of third. And to find out what kind of third you measure the semitones between the notes C -C#- D - D# - E = four semitones (two whole tones) so it is a Major Third.

The distance would be the same if we are descending from E DOWN to C. Note E down to C is E D C (three letter names) and two whole steps.

HOWEVER if we go from C DOWN to E or from E up to C then the distance is different. Ascending from E up to C it is E F G A B C (six letter names so some kind of sixth), (or Descending from C DOWN to E is C B A G F E = six letter names).

The distance in semitones between C DOWN to E is C - B - Bb - A - Ab - G - Gb - F - E = 8 semitones which is a minor sixth.

If we start on C and we go up to E it is a Major third. If we instead from C DOWN to E it is a minor sixth. This relationship is called an interval inversion. Going up or down doesn't matter to much what matters is the distance and that will change depending on which of the two notes is the highest and which is the lowest.

Seriously have a read through the two posts I linked in my last post. They do cover intervals in detail, including interval inversions. - no one reads links I guess - I should have copied and pasted.
Si
Quote by 20Tigers
The distance in semitones between C DOWN to E is C - B - Bb - A - Ab - G - Gb - F - E = 8 semitones which is a minor third.

Just pointing out a typo so that no one is confused by it. I'm pretty sure you meant UP
Quote by The4thHorsemen
Just pointing out a typo so that no one is confused by it. I'm pretty sure you meant UP

No, I think he meant down. He did, however, put minor third instead of minor sixth.
Last edited by TheHydra at Sep 24, 2013,
Quote by TheHydra
No, I think he meant down. He did, however, put minor third instead of minor sixth.

Yip. It was meant to say minor sixth. My bad.
Si