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Intervals – where the music lies!

There 2 famous quotes by 2 musicians pretty relevant in the context of the subject:

“Music doesn’t lie in the notes but in the silence between!”

another one goes like this… “A note is a wrong note only depending upon what is played next to it!”

Coming to the subject its very relevant to first understand and imbibe the meaning of MELODY and HARMONY – the 2 key concepts of music.

Melody can be defined as a memorable series of pitches. Simply speaking, it’s the tune of the song, whereas Harmony is the simultaneously sounding notes that bring support and context to the melody. When someone is strumming a guitar what you hear is a kind of harmony while when a lead guitarist is playing a selective set of notes progressing with time, its called a melody.

The distance between any 2 notes is called as interval and of course depending upon which notes we are talking about there can be different intervals. Let us tabulate those now.

No. of semitones Intervals Symbol Example
0 Perfect unison P1 C
1 Minor second m2 C#
2 Major second M2 D
3 Minor third m3 D#
4 Major third M3 E
5 Perfect fourth P4 F
6 Diminished fifth or Augmented Fourth F#
7 Perfect fifth P5 G
8 Minor sixth m6 G#
9 Major sixth M6 A
10 Minor seventh m7 A#
11 Major seventh M7 B
12 Perfect octave P8 C

Note that, one fret on a guitar or any two adjacent key on a keyboard are at one semitone or one half step or are at minor second interval.

Intervals & Music

It is the relative tonal difference between the notes at different intervals that leads to a feel or mood of the music.

A particular combination of notes at certain intervals may sound, sad, neutral, or happy, as we will see, these combinations will form what is known as scales or modes.