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Thread: Second intervals

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Second intervals

    Hello all.

    My question is simple.
    How can you tell if a second is minor or major since both the minor and major scales start off as:

    keynote->whole step
    ---
    The only way i can find interval quality is by looking at the major and minor scale on the keyboard.

    However,my book gives an easier way:"To find the quality,apply the key signatire of the bottom note/(Instead of writing a complete major scale,apply the key signature of the bottom note to see if the upper note fits in the scale)"

    But this definition doesnt make sense.Isthere is no other easy way instead of just memorizing every major and minor scale?

  2. #2
    Registered User Joe Pass Jr's Avatar
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    Well for starters you really DO want to memorize the formulas for each major scale. From there you wont have much trouble working out the minor scales. And the intervals will make more sense when you encounter them.

    To answer your question though. To find the quality of any interval you simply refer to the key your in or to the root note of the chord it is being harmonized with.

    So for example.

    Your playing an Fmajor chord and there is a Gb. You can say to yourself " ok, I know the key of Fmajor only has one flat, that being Bb. So if G is the 2nd Gb must be a minor second.

    This is, i think, what the book you speak of is trying to say.

    To give another example. Lets say you encounter the notes C E Gb B as a chord to play. But your in the key of Gb. Instead of harmonizing the entire Gb scale and trying to work out what that chord is. Try and relate it to the root of the chord.

    Pretend that C E Gb B is your tonic in Cmajor. C Root - E Third - Gb flat 5th (aka Dim5th or Tritone or #4/#11 if you want to call it that, since Gb is enharmonic to F#). And finally B our Major 7th.

    I picked a bad example with the Gb, the other half of my point is ruined now

    Anyway, I hope that helped in some way.
    Last edited by Joe Pass Jr; 12-03-2007 at 08:50 AM.
    Its not the techniques you use, but the music you make.

  3. #3
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Major second : whole step
    Minor second: half step.
    Scales that have minor second: phrygian (& dominant), locrian, half-whole diminished

  4. #4
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qoorbal
    Is there is no other easy way instead of just memorizing every major and minor scale?
    Memorize the major scales (all 15)

    As you start to do this, you will see the obvious complimentary pairs like:

    C major has no sharps / Cb major has seven flats
    G major has one sharp / Gb major has six flats
    D major has two sharps / Db major has five flats
    A major has three sharps / Ab major has four flats
    E major has four sharps / Eb major has three flats
    B major has five sharps / Bb major has two flats
    F# major has six sharps / F major has one flat
    C# major has seven sharps / C major has no flats

    If you think in terms of these complimentary pairs at first you may find it easier to remember the number of sharps and flats for various keys.

    Memorizing all of the major scales is the first step (IMO) to understanding basic harmonic theory. Ultimately memorization is the only way. In practical application you'll need to know the scales in all keys to really know / instantly recall every interval type from any root and every chord spelling diatonic to every key.

    Other helpful things:
    The order of addition of Flats = B E A D G C F
    The order of addition of Sharps = F C G D A E B (note reverse of above)
    The cycle of 5ths
    Think of the major scale intervalic formula (w w h w w w h) as you recite the major scales (to confirm the major / minor seconds)
    Recite the scales outloud to memorize (multiple senses will speed the process)
    Visualize the scales as note spellings to aid memorization
    Visualize the scales as music notation to aid memorization
    Visualize the scales as on-instrument note locations to aid memorization

    Lastly: Long term memory is acquired via high-frequency / short-duration / low-intensity practice. Take 5 minutes every hour to recite as many major scales as you can. Do this for 3 weeks straight to start the process.

    Within a week you should be able to recite every major scale within a few minutes. Within three weeks you'll have memorized all 15 major scales. Continue to practice these things in lot's of different ways. I memorized these things 30 years ago and I still find new ways to practice / deepen my understanding each day.
    Last edited by Jed; 12-03-2007 at 12:17 PM.

  5. #5
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    No need to think key at all.
    As LaughingSkull says, minor 2nd = half-step, major 2nd = whole step. Simple as that. (Provided there's two different note names, and none in between, which is usually the case. Eg, C#-D-Eb would be a diminished 3rd, but then it hardly ever exists in practice.)

    Intervals are not dependent on key. But you do need to know how the natural notes (ABCDEFG) work - half-step between B-C and E-F, whole step between all the others. Then the rest is easy: count note letters, then count semitones.

  6. #6
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    Hi, Simply, to figure out those questions that are asked about Intevals always choose an easy Key to work in! I always use Key 'C' Major being a pianist!!!Take Key'C',a major second from the note 'C' Is key 'D',That 'Interval', is a Major 2nd! Talking of intervals, we'll stay on 'C'....2nds are created when two different notes are used in the interval LIKE.'C' and 'D'., the first is Major, and, the 2nd is also Major The interval between them being a Major 2nd! I will try to keep it as simple as possible, so please I implore the purists out there to bear with me!.....Further the interval created when only one name in the same scale is quoted, LIKE 'C' natural and 'C'#. (Both notes have the same name) then, that interval is correctly called an Augmented interval- in this specific example, an Aug 'perfect' interval. although the intervals illustrated are actually 'Enharmonic' ie. they sound the same.This
    figuring applies to all Intervals In all keys Good luck..Lee
    P.S, you will find that questions asked in most Exams on theory, will use the easier Keys for the students' to answer in, until the grades become more difficult!!!!!

  7. #7
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leegordo
    Hi, Simply, to figure out those questions that are asked about Intevals always choose an easy Key to work in! I always use Key 'C' Major being a pianist!!!Take Key'C',a major second from the note 'C' Is key 'D',That 'Interval', is a Major 2nd! Talking of intervals, we'll stay on 'C'....2nds are created when two different notes are used in the interval LIKE.'C' and 'D'., the first is Major, and, the 2nd is also Major
    Uh... Sounds like you mean the notes are both major...?
    C-D is a major 2nd, but this has nothing to do with it being from the C major scale. C-D occurs in lots of other scales (including the C minor scale of course) and is still a major 2nd.
    In fact, it's a major 2nd simply because it's one half-step bigger than a minor 2nd: C-Db or C#-D.
    Quote Originally Posted by leegordo
    The interval between them being a Major 2nd! I will try to keep it as simple as possible, so please I implore the purists out there to bear with me!.....
    Guess I must be a purist (I like words to have the right meanings anyway), but I'll bear with you...
    Quote Originally Posted by leegordo
    Further the interval created when only one name in the same scale is quoted, LIKE 'C' natural and 'C'#. (Both notes have the same name) then, that interval is correctly called an Augmented interval- in this specific example, an Aug 'perfect' interval.
    Er... nope you've lost me. C-C# would be an augmented unison, if that's what you mean, but it's an unusual interval (in harmony anyway).
    But F-B is an augmented 4th, which doesn't seem to fit your reasoning.
    Quote Originally Posted by leegordo
    although the intervals illustrated are actually 'Enharmonic' ie. they sound the same.
    Which intervals are you referring to? illustrated where?
    Quote Originally Posted by leegordo
    This figuring applies to all Intervals In all keys Good luck..
    Hmm, I think we'll need it...
    Quote Originally Posted by leegordo
    P.S, you will find that questions asked in most Exams on theory, will use the easier Keys for the students' to answer in, until the grades become more difficult!!!!!
    True enough!

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