# Review: Intervals

*interval*is the distance between two pitches. Intervals may be melodic or harmonic, thus serving as the basic building blocks of music.

When two pitches occur in succession, the interval is *melodic*. If the two pitches sound simultaneously, the interval is *harmonic*.

To determine the size of an interval, count the letter names between the two notes.

An interval larger than an octave can be considered to be a *compound interval*. For example, a 9^{th} is a compound 2^{nd }(an octave plus a 2^{nd}), a 10^{th} is a compound 3^{rd }(an octave plus a 3^{rd}), and an 11^{th} is a compound 4^{th }(an octave plus a 4^{th}). Compound intervals function the same as their simple interval versions.

# methods to identify intervals above and below a note

**A. Count the steps. **Smaller intervals can be identified by the number of whole and half steps between the two notes. Larger intervals can be compared to known perfect intervals. For example, the quality of sevenths can be determined by comparing them to the P8, and sixths by comparing them to the P5:

### Perfect

Perfect prime | unison | P1 |

Perfect fourth | 2 ½ steps | P4 |

Perfect fifth | 3 ½ steps | P5 |

Perfect octave | P8 |

### Major

Major second | 1 whole step | M2 |

Major third | 2 whole steps | M3 |

Major sixth | P5 + 1 whole step | M6 |

Major seventh | P8 – ½ step | M7 |

### Minor

Minor second | ½ step | m2 |

Minor third | 1½ steps | m3 |

Minor sixth | P5 + ½ step | m6 |

Minor seventh | P8 – 1 whole step | m7 |

**B. Consider the intervals over the tonic. **When identifying an interval, consider the lower note to be the “tonic” in either a major or natural minor key. Reinforce this method by memorizing all major and minor scales and being able to play them at the keyboard.

### Intervals Over the Tonic in the Major Scale

### Intervals Over the Tonic in the Natural Minor Scale

**C. Augmented and diminished intervals.** Perfect and major intervals can be augmented by raising the top note or lowering the bottom note by a half step. Perfect and minor intervals can be diminished by lowering the top note or raising the bottom note by a half step.

**D. Invert large intervals to smaller intervals. **When inverting intervals, perfect remain perfect, major become minor, minor become major, diminished become augmented, and augmented become diminished. Note that the interval and its inversion will always add up to 9.

## Perfect |
## Major |
## Minor |
## Diminished and Augmented |

P1 ⇔ P8 | M2 ⇔ m7 | m2 ⇔ M7 | A4 ⇔ d5 (tritone) |

P4 ⇔ P5 | M3 ⇔ m6 | m3 ⇔ M6 | A2 ⇔ d7 |

M6 ⇔ m3 | m6 ⇔ M3 | A5 ⇔ d4 | |

M7 ⇔ m2 | m7 ⇔ M2 | A6 ⇔ d3 |

Example:

Examples of inverting large intervals to smaller intervals:

*Bring the upper note down an octave, identify the interval, and then invert to determine the original interval.*

**E. Remove accidentals.** When identifying intervals with sharps and/or flats, drop the accidentals, use one of the methods described above to identify the interval, then replace the accidentals one by one and note their effect on the interval. Example:

**F. Use solfège as a guide.** Practice the major interval drills and the minor interval drills in the Diatonic Musicianship section to become familiar with the sound of all the intervals.

Practice