Being able to identify musical intervals will give you the musical prowess required to memorise songs and sharpen your ear training skills.
Fancy being that guitar player who can hear a tune and work out how to play it in a flash, or a writer who can come up with lush sounding melodies on the fly? Learning about intervals is your fast ticket to success in all these areas.
Intervals are simply the musical distance between two notes. This distance is defined by pitch and they are labelled according to number (distance) and quality (sound). Each interval has a unique sound determined by the combination of the harmonic spectrum of sound that each note in the interval produces.
The table below shows all 13 interval names, how many semitones make up each interval distance, and the common used abbreviations for each interval.
The key of C major has been used to illustrate the distance each interval is in relation to the root note. Finally, the table shows you the sound characteristic of each interval.
The best way of training your ear to become familiar with the sound each interval creates is to use well known songs as examples. And this is exactly what we’ll explore a little later in another post.
Let’s take a look at that interval table:
Fig 1.0 - Musical intervals table - all 13 interval names
Making sense of intervals on the guitar fretboard is better to visualise when the intervals are shown on the fretboard, along one string. See the interval diagram that displays all of the chromatic intervals using F as the root note below:
Fig 1.1 - Musical intervals on the guitar neck up one string
The two most important facts about intervals you need to understand to help you improve not just your guitar playing, but your all-round musicianship are:
Fact 1) Intervals occur over the whole fretboard at different locations on each string, but always follow the same pattern.
Fact 2) Intervals are determined in relation to their proximity to a root note.
These are mighty important concepts for you to grasp when it comes to getting intimate with intervals. Both fact 1 and 2 are illustrated in the interval diagram below in Fig 1.2 where you can see the intervals in relation to the F tonic recurring across the whole fretboard.
This interval pattern is exactly the same regardless of the root note. This point is illustrated in the next diagram in Fig 1.3. Here, the root is changed to A. The only thing that changes as you can see, is which fret the pattern begins on.
Fig 1.2 - Musical intervals across the guitar fretboard with an F root note
Fig 1.3 - Chromatic intervals covering the whole fretboard with A as the root note
To improve your learning further on intervals and get your head around how you apply the music theory to the playing, join the mailing list here and be the first to know when the No 1 beginner friendly music theory book, Easy Peasy Guitar Music Theory is released.
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