The Basics Of Intervals. Part 1

In this lesson, I'll show you guys a bit about intervals and how they can be applied to your music. The uses of intervals are endless and they can be useful tool.

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Here at UG there are some great lessons on intervals and music theory in general, but I'm going to try and make my interpretation a bit easier for people new to theory. Intervals are a fairly simple concept long as you learn them and practice them. They are only as hard as you make them to be. Well now that I've made you read a introduction, I'll cut to the chase. Lets get started! The fist thing about intervals is knowing your basic musical alphabet. It's what you need to apply your intervals too. The music alphabet consist of the letters: A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# (This is also called the chromatic scale). *Notice they're all half steps! Thats it! Once you hit G# just go back to A and repeat them again. If your at C, just go to C# and then D and so on..it's the same for anywhere you start. One thing to know/notice is all the intervals have a sharp between them except for B to C and E to F. Those are the two natural half steps (thats what I call them) within the musical alphabet. If you go from A to B then that would be a whole step. If your wondering what A to C or A to D# is (for example), don't worry, thats coming soon. *There are ways to alter B to C and E to F to make them whole steps but thats a bit more advanced for beginners.
A to B= whole

B to C= half

C to D= whole

D to E= whole

E to F= half

F to G= whole

G to A= whole
Now to get to the intervals. The first thing to learn is your half step and whole step. These two intervals in turn can be used as your building blocks. I'll get to that a little later. As for applying these two intervals to the guitar, that is simple. On the guitar, each fret represents a half step. Half Step = 1 half step or fret Whole Step = 2 half steps or frets TIP *The half step is also called a m2 or is 1 semi-tone. *The whole step is commonly called a M2 or is two semi-tones. M=Major m=minor The next two intervals, which are very important, are the major and minor 3rd. These two intervals are great for when you begin chord construction. m3 = 3 half steps or frets M3 = 4 half steps or frets When you get familiar with these two intervals you can apply them to make basic triads. Here are the general "interval formulas" for two of the four common triads. I've also given you the patterns for the Root position on the first 3 strings (G-B-e). If you want some other useful patterns for these two triads and more, then check out my Chord Patterns lesson. Major Triad = Major 3rd + minor 3rd Root Position Shape
e|-5-|---|---|
B|---|---|-3-|
G|---|---|-R-|
D|---|---|---|
A|---|---|---|
E|---|---|---|
Minor Triad = minor 3rd + Major 3rd Root Position Shape
e|-5-|---|---|
B|---|-3-|---|
G|---|---|-R-|
D|---|---|---|
A|---|---|---|
E|---|---|---|
This is one of the many popular uses of 3rds in general. The most popular use for 3rds is for harmonies. Listen to Iron Maiden or the more modern Avenged Sevenfold. They both incorporate harmonies through 3rds and other intervals. Heres a chart to show you the type of interval and the number of half steps each interval has. I've also included some extra info about each interval. *Remember when I mentioned A to C and A to D#. Well those are two examples for intervals. A to C is a m3 and A to D# is a tritone. If your wondering how I knew that then use this chart to help you. If you need a guide use the chromatic scale.
Interval             Number of Half Steps      

Perfect Unison           0                     

m2 (half step)           1                                                  

M2 (whole step)          2

m3                       3

M3                       4

Perfect 4                5

Tritone (#4/b5)          6   *The tritone is also known as the "Devils" note

Perfect 5                7

m6                       8

M6                       9 

m7                       10 

M7                       11

Perfect 8 (Octave)       12
Well hopefully this little lesson helped you out for the basic content of intervals. If you'd like more for the other intervals (perfect 5 tritone, etc.) I'd be happy to help anyone. This is one of my first lessons so don't be too harsh. -Mike.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    standupnfall
    bass-man9712 wrote: when your showing the triad forms, what do the 5 and 3 represent?
    They replresent the degree of the scale for instance if 1= C Then your 3 (M3) would be E And your 5 would be G As in the C Major scale: C D E F G A B C 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1(or 8)
    iFire
    I see nothing wrong with it. But I'm a noob at stuff from that. In fact, I learned something from it. :]
    mielord21
    thanks... i didn't know that interval is the term for that. now i learned, thanks to you!
    Rickustico
    dude thanks, i get it much better now. I don't know why i've been having such a hard time with interval. I wanna learn them well enough to make my own chords
    Life Is Brutal
    Before this all Ive really understood was 4ths (5 Frets) and 5ths (7 Frets). But Ive heard the term 7th, what does that usually fall under? 10 Frets? 9 Frets?
    TriviumFan717
    Depending on the quality, a minor7 would be 10 frets and a Major7 would be 11 frets. You'll end up using sevenths alot with chords.
    Aishla
    Wow, thanks for the lesson. I think I really learnt something. ^__^ Hadn't heard from intervals before, but I think I understanded them until the "M3 = 4 half steps or frets" part. After that, it was all... abracadabra... What's 'chord construction'? Why is M3 not 3 whole steps? And wtf is a triad? Well... I think we can now say I'm a total noob.
    TriviumFan717
    good questions. chord construction is basically just building chords. you start out with learning the basic triads (3 note chords) and then you move onto more advanced chords. And a triad is a chord made up of 3 notes.
    cfh12804
    this may sound like a stupid question but whot note is the r in the root position shapes i dont get what the root is
    TriviumFan717
    It's part of the formula. 1-3-5. 1= the root. A Minor Triad 1-3-5 A C E A= the root
    colinwicks
    Didnt quite mqke the connection at first,, unbelievable what you done for me dude, its opened a door for me, i understood that any major triad was made up of the 1st the third and the fifth of the root, so now my understanding is i find my minors by .... ist ..3rd and 4th of root.. i am right arnt i.. been struggling but very determined to understand, as i am self taught.. big thanks mate.. i
    Roughneck-1
    Didnt quite mqke the connection at first,, unbelievable what you done for me dude, its opened a door for me, i understood that any major triad was made up of the 1st the third and the fifth of the root, so now my understanding is i find my minors by .... ist ..3rd and 4th of root.. i am right arnt i.. been struggling but very determined to understand, as i am self taught.. big thanks mate.. ' U find minors by the 1st b3 5th...which means u flatten the 3rd to get the minor triad and thats it
    redroman
    it would hav been better if there were some more examples...couldn't quite get the triad part...??