Just before I left the church today to pick up @laputis from school I received an email asking for help with intervals. It was from the church organist who is in my harmony class and cannot find the right intervals to add the bass part to the hymn tune. So I decided to help him and other people who would like to understand about intervals. I talked into my phone's camera in this video. At first you will see my face but then I switch to the view on the keyboard and my hand for you to see.
The smallest distance between two notes is a half-step. For example - from C to C# or from E to F or G to G#. If you add two half-steps together, you will get a whole step, like from C to D or from Eb to F or G to A.
Let's take a C major scale for starters (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C). So in terms of intervals the smallest interval is a perfect unison between C and C which is basically a repeated note. Then comes minor 2nd (from C to Db) and it encompasses only one half-step. From C to D is a major 2nd and it reaches a whole step. From C to Eb is a minor 3rd or 1.5 whole steps. From C to E is a major 3rd or 2 whole steps. From C to F is a perfect 4th or 2.5 whole steps. From C to F# is a tritone or an augmented 4th or 3 whole steps. From C to G is a perfect 5th or 3.5 whole steps. From C to Ab is a minor 6th or 4 whole steps. From C to A is a major 6th or 4.5 whole steps. From C to Bb is a minor 7th or 5 whole steps. From C to B is a major 7th or 5.5 whole steps. And finally from C to C is a perfect 8th or octave which is 6 whole steps. It makes sense - there are 12 notes in an octave (7 diatonic notes or white keys and 5 chromatic notes or black keys) and in total there are 12 half steps or 6 whole steps. Oh and by the way, on my church organ the key colors are reversed but that's for another story...
If you want to master those intervals, I recommend writing and playing them from any key. Even better, try to recognize them in any piece that you currently play or listen to. This way you will start to think like a composer who created such a piece and pretty soon you will be creating music yourself!
Have fun and let me know what else you would like to know about music theory or harmony.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.