Audio of figure 1
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To find the interval between two notes, just count the number of notes separating them, including the two notes composing the interval.
The following table gives you the names of intervals based on the distance between two notes.
|Name||Example||Distance between notes|
When the interval separates two notes played one after the other, the interval is melodic. Depending on the direction of the movement separating the two notes, the interval can be ascending or descending.
The intervals in Figure 1 are ascending.
The intervals in the figure below are based on the same note names as those in Figure 1 (C-G and D-F). However, the position of the first note is higher, so the movement is changed. In figure 1, we had ascending intervals, here we have descending intervals. The interval C-G is no longer an ascending fifth, but a descending quarter. Similarly, D-F is no longer an ascending third, but a descending sixth.
When the interval separates two notes played simultaneously, the interval is harmonic.
An interval that exceeds the octave is called a compound interval. To name such an interval, we will use two different terminologies: ordinal numbers (ninth, tenth, etc.), or the simple interval followed by the adjective "compound". For example, a compound third is the equivalent of a tenth.
The following figure represents an interval of ninth, that is to say a compound second. This interval is formed of an octave (from E, bottom of the staff, to E, top of the staff) and a second (from E, top of the staff, to F).
The following figure represents a thirteenth interval, that is, a compound sixth. This interval is formed of an octave (from D, bottom of the staff to D, top of the staff) and a sixth (from D, top of the staff to B).
The following table shows the name and composition of the compound intervals.
|Name (ordinal)||Name (compound)||Composition|
|Ninth||Compound second||Octave + Second|
|Tenth||Compound third||Octave + Third|
|Eleventh||Compound fourth||Octave + Fourth|
|Twelfth||Compound fifth||Octave + Fifth|
|Thirteenth||Compound sixth||Octave + Sixth|
|Fourteenth||Compound seventh||Octave + Seventh|
|Fifteenth||Compound octave or Double-octave||Octave + Octave|
The ear recognition of an interval is an indispensable element of the good training of a musician. To master this aspect allows, among other things, to facilitate the learning of a piece, to recognize the key, the harmony of a piece or a passage, to be able to quickly write down a melody, etc.
Listen to the two notes of the interval, several times if necessary, then try to mentally go all over the intermediate notes from the first to the second note, counting all of them. The number of notes gives you the name of the interval. Better, we advise you to sing aloud all notes. Singing allows one to feel the interval physically, which allows one to better assimilate them.
If you are new to interval recognition, always start with ascending melodic intervals, then progress to descending and harmonic intervals. Also prefer the "small intervals", until the fifth, before you start in the larger ones.
In this course, we have only been interested in interval names. However, you will soon find that the name of an interval is not enough to clearly define a difference in pitch. For example, how do you distinguish the C-E interval from the C-E interval? This is the subject of the course devoted to the interval qualification. You will learn how to qualify an interval as a major, a minor or a perfect one, for example.
However, before continuing, remember that, whatever the accidentals you may encounter, accidentals must never be taken into account to name an interval! The C-E, C-E, C-E intervals are all thirds, simply because from C to E, there are 3 notes: C, D and E.
The intervals in the following figure are all thirds. Accidentals modify the qualification of the interval, but do not alter the name of the interval. We will qualify it as major third, minor third, etc. (see course on interval qualification) but all remain thirds.
Last update on 2021/05/07
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