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A melodic interval is the distance horizontally between any two notes. A harmonic interval is the distance vertically between any two notes. Melodic intervals are measured between two consecutive pitches, one sounding after the other. Harmonic intervals are measured between two pitches sounding simultaneously. 2. Intervals are described in terms of both quality and quantity. Descriptions of quality are: Perfect(P) Major(M) minor(m) Augmented(A) diminished(d) The term "perfect" originates from the days when early tuning systems actually used a fifth which was perfectly in tune, or pure. Today our octave (P8) is in tune, but our 5th is actually flat by two cents (2/100th of a half step). We still continue to refer to the fifth as "perfect," even though it is not. Descriptions of quantity refer to the numerical distance one note is from another. Combining qualitative and quantitative descriptions, we can describe intervals as follows: m2, M2, m3, M3, P4, A4/d5, P5, m6, M6, m7, M7, P8. Various other A and d intervals are possible, depending upon how they are notated. 3. Major and Perfect intervals ascending (distance between first and last note of each measure):
starting with a perfect interval (e. (2) reducing the interval by one half-step produces a diminished interval. (2) reducing the interval by one half-step produces a minor interval. starting with a major interval: (1) increasing the interval by one half-step produces an augmented interval. diminished (d).) A P d . read vertically. Minor intervals: these are one half step smaller than major intervals. For example. P5): (1) increasing the interval one half-step produces an augmented interval. A M m d In the left column.." The chart below. can be calculated and identified by comparing them with perfect (P) or major (M) intervals. C to E is a major third.g. The decrease is accomplished when either the upper note is lowered one half-step. minor (m).. and augmented (A). For example. C# to E is a minor third. (Db to E would be an augmented 2nd. using the same letter names (pitch classes).4. or the lower note is raised one half step..) Also. (3) reducing the interval by two half-steps produces a diminished interval. Reducing a minor interval one half-step produces a diminished interval. (C to D# would be an augmented 2nd. 5. "M" reduced by one half step becomes "m. may be more helpful . In the right column. C to Eb is a minor third. The other intervals. P4.
always using the same letter names. . Terminology for other intervals: Unison (P1) or perfect prime (PP): two identical pitches. then the m to d. Diminished intervals: these are one half step smaller than minor or perfect intervals. but. resulting in a unison. The decrease is accomplished by lowering the upper note or by raising the lower note.) 7. Diatonic and chromatic half steps: in the diatonic half step. respectively. (The augmented 3rd and 7th are quite rare. For example. as they would create a P4 and P8. such as F to Gb. is extremely rare. such as F to F#.6. It may be easiest to first mentally convert the M interval to m. and G to C is a P4. the two tones are spelled with adjacent letter names.) 8. Augmented invertals: these are one half-step larger than perfect intervals or major intervals. Inversion of intervals: inverting intervals simply means flipping them upside down. be sure to reduce the M interval by two half steps (same letter names). When you derive a d interval from a M interval. using the same letter names. the term tritone. (A diminished 2nd. Each interval includes three whole steps. hence. 9. Tritone (TT): refers to each of the enharmonic (sounding the same) intervals of the A4 and d5. The term diatonic refers to those tones spelled within the nomenclature of a given key. a chromatic half step would involve using the same letter name (pitch class). again. Each interval has a corresponding inverted interval. C to G is a P5.
d becomes A when inverted. 10. for example. A2 becomes d7. the qualitative factors are. thirds become sixths. . Any M interval becomes m when inverted. Also. fifths become fourths. the pitch is simply placed an octave lower: C down to Eb is a descending M6. any m interval becomes M when inverted. and sevenths become seconds. seconds become sevenths.When inverted. 11. determine the inversion of the descending interval. sixths become thirds. Unisons and octaves remain the same. etc. subtract its number from 9: the inversion of a third is 9 minus 3 = a sixth. A becomes d when inverted. To determine the numerical inversion of an interval. Likewise. begin by determining the inversion of the M6: m3 above = Eb. d4 becomes A5. Compound intervals: these are intervals larger than an octave. An interval is usually described by its diminutive form (3rd rather than 10th) unless the distinction is necessary for some reason. After the inversion is calculated. fourths become fifths. as well. Descending intervals: To spell descending intervals. If the objective is to spell the interval a M6 below C. In addition to the quantitative factors being inversely proportionate. you may find it helpful to use the following approach: First. The sum of the two intervals should always equal 9.
M6. Triad--a three-note grouping of pitches comprised of two stacked thirds. two stacked minor thirds. minor third on top. Dissonant intervals: m2. 14. at least. TT. a block chord is produced. Diminished triad: m3 and d5 above the root. The lowest note is called the root. 13. m7. dissonant refers to a harsh or disagreeable sound. major third on bottom. the following general categorizations tend to be agreed upon. While just which intervals meet either definition has changed over the years. by some theorists: Consonant intervals: m3. minor third on bottom. When chord members sound at the same time. above which are the third and fifth. two stacked major thirds. Minor triad: m3 and P5 above the root. Consonance and dissonance: consonant refers to a harmonious or pleasant sound. Sounding in succession. . P4. Chord--a group of tones sounding simultaneously or in close succession. m6. P5. M3. M2. P8. Since both major and minor thirds exist. four different combinations are possible: Major triad: M3 and P5 above the root. major third on top.12. broken or arpeggiated chords are produced. M7. Augmented triad: M3 and A5 above the root.
For example. Triads in a key: Triads can be built above each note of any major or minor scale. it is common to encounter chords comprised of additional stacked thirds. When a tone is altered by an accidental. and expressed by a Roman numeral. The thirteenth chord is the largest possible diatonic chord in that the next third higher would duplicate the root. . The symbol Ø7 represents the "half-diminished" chord. lowercase Roman numerals indicate a minor triad. is considered diatonic. where the #6 and #7 scale degrees are considered diatonic. but with a m7. A triad in a key is identified by the scale-step number of its root. A lowercase numeral with a small o symbol indicates a diminished triad. but also the triad construction. The Roman numeral not only designates the scale-step location of the root. including triads. and uppercase numeral with a + indicates an augmented triad. When only scales tones are used. the chord is considered an altered chord. 16. which consists of a diminished triad. any note or combination of notes. uppercase Roman numerals indicate a major triad. 17. Chords larger than a triad: While we will study extended-chord structures at a later time.15. except in minor. Seventh chords: consist of a triad with an additional 3rd stacked on top.
(Note: The text "subscripts" the 6 following a Roman numeral (V6). however. Inversion of chords: Like intervals. In practice. In that the text also superscripts the added "7th" (V7). First inversion: The Roman numeral indicates the scale degree on which the root of the chord is built and the quality of the chord (via uppercase / lowercase symbols). Analysis symbols for chord inversions: Inversion in triads: Root position: The Roman numeral appears without any other symbol--uppercase for a major chord. Technically. diatonically. lowercase for a minor chord (with diminished symbol. This number indicates the distance of the upper note(s) above the bass note (3rd of the chord). however. the full designation of a first-inversion triad is [6 over 3]. if applicable). Chord inversions change intervallic Lowest 1 3 5 7 Third (7th chords only) content and sound without Note: (Root position) changing the overall spelling. Either way is acceptable. the number 3 is omitted as a shortcut. In addition to the Roman numeral is the Arabic number 6 (see illustration below). or 5th.The major-minor seventh chord is often called a "dominant seventh" because the Mm7 structure is only found. Diatonic seventh chords in major and minor (harmonic form): 19. I prefer to . Inversion: none First Second 20. however. scale degree. some theory texts use "superscript" (V6). above the dominant. 18. a single Arabic number should be placed either above or below the baseline of the Roman numeral. chords can also be inverted. indicating a note a 6th and a 3rd above the bass.
Even though in first inversion. Since the seventh chord contains four notes. Again. is [6 over 4] (see illustration above). indicating that one note is a fourth above the bass and another is a sixth above the bass. a shortcut is used. they may be placed evenly with the Roman numeral: Second inversion: Again. Inversion in seventh chords: Root position: At this point in our studies the chord most commonly found with the added 7th is the dominant chord (V). The designation for a second inversion triad. The Arabic number is simply added to the Roman numeral if the chord appears in root position: V7.be consistent and superscript all Arabic numerals indicating inversion. 5th and 6th above the bass. Second inversion: The shortcut symbol used to indicate a dominant seventh chord in second inversion (fifth in the bass) is [4 over 3] (see illustration above). a seventh chord consists of pitches a 3rd. so each inversion only contains two Arabic numbers. For chord symbols requiring two Arabic numbers. 4th and 6th (implied) above the bass. First inversion: A seventh chord in first inversion has the 3rd of the chord in the bass. then. the Roman numeral indicates the scale degree on which the root of the chord is built and the quality of the chord (via uppercase / lowercase). both Arabic numbers must be present to indicate the distance of the upper notes above the bass note (5th of the chord). This indicates that the chord consists of pitches a 3rd. . however. the 3rd is assumed and only the pitches a 5th and 6th above the bass note (third of the chord) are indicated. one would expect that there should be three Arabic numerals used in conjunction with the Roman numeral. or the added 7th. In order to distinguish second inversion from first inversion.
the given note is the "fifth" of the chord. the indication is a seventh chord in root position. If a [4 over 3] (see illustration in No. the note is the root of the chord. 4th and 6th (implied) above the bass. If a 6 appears below a pitch. a second-inversion triad is indicated. the chord position is determined in relation to the bass voice. 20) appears beneath a pitch. Arabic numbers and other symbols are provided for this purpose.Third inversion: The shortcut symbol used to indicate a dominant seventh chord in third inversion (seventh in the bass) is [4 over 2] (see illustration above).) 21. the given note is the "third" of the chord. No matter what the arrangement or quantity of upper voices. If a 7 appears below a pitch. This indicates that the chord consists of pitches a 2nd. (Compound intervals are reduced to their simplest form for identification. a first-inversion triad is indicated. If a [6 over 5] (see illustration in No. the given note is the "fifth" of the chord. a first-inversion seventh chord is indicated. the given note is the root of the chord. . if no symbol appears beneath a given pitch. All symbols used are in relation to the bass note. If a [6 over 4] (see illustration in No. 20) appears beneath a pitch. the indication is a triad in root position. For example. usually in a chorale. a second-inversion seventh chord is indicated. Figured Bass: Figured bass notation is a shortcut system for harmonizing notes above a given bass note. the given note is the "third" of the chord. 20) appears beneath a pitch.
if the given note is C and a flat appears beneath it. A dash following a number means that voice should be held through. regardless of their location on the staff. Staff notation basics: The single note consists of three parts: notehead. Stems are up for notes below the middle line. even though the bass changes. flag/beam. When two parts share one staff. While we will eventually be working with figured bass in relation to the grand staff. The ascending stem is attached to the right side of the notehead. The descending stem is attached to the left side of the notehead. . the examples below utilize only a single staff for purposes of illustration. A number preceded by a flat lowers that particular note one half step. 20) appears beneath a pitch. The middle line on any staff marks the dividing point where stem direction changes for single notes.. stems are down. stems ascend on notes for the upper part. For notes on or above the middle line. stem. For example. just the opposite if a sharp appears before a number. a C minor chord is indicated. Also a number with a slash through it means that interval above the bass should be raised one half step. other symbols are used as well. flat or natural standing alone beneath a pitch refers to the third above the bass note (root position implied). A sharp. the given note is the "seventh" of the chord.If a [4 over 2] (see illustration in No. a third-inversion seventh chord is indicated. and descend on notes for the lower part .. 22. A natural before a number would be used to cancel the pitch indicated by the key signature. In addition to numeric indicators.
the dot appears in the same space. When the note is on a line. Vertical arrangements of notes: All note sounding simultaneously must be vertically aligned. Exceptions may be found when various chord tones share the same stem. Horizontal arrangement of notes: The notes should appear in the measure in approximate proportion to their time values. . the dot is normally found in the space above. For two whole notes in unison.To indicate two parts performing the same pitch (unison). use two slightly overlapping (touching) whole notes. Dotted notes: When the note is in a space. Accidentals are placed directly before the affected note and on the same line or space as the note. use a single notehead with both ascending and descending stems.
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