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Thread: Writing intervals above and below

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Question Writing intervals above and below

    Hello, I need help with somethingin music theory, I'd really like to get this down. There will be problems that say "write the following interval above" Then it will be a quarter note on Line B ( treble clef ) Then it'll give me a P4, I know that Inverts to a P5, But where would I write that?

    Like where does my circle of fifths come into play?

    Then there's problems that'll say Write the interval below. How do I do those? I really want to get this down.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    It is pure memorization. Like the multiplication tables. Sure you can count 7 semitones up from a note and get the P5 (or go down 7 semitones to get the P5 below). But this would be like adding eight 9's together to figure out 8x9. You just have to know that it's 72.

    Of course there will be some tricks that you can take advantage of (analagous to understanding that anything multiplied by 5 ends in 0 or 5). If the starting note is flat/natural/sharp, then the P5 up/down will be flat/natural/sharp...EXCEPT for B and F (B-F#, Bflat-F).

    For all the natural major thirds (C-E, F-A, G-B): If you sharp or flat the starting note, the upper note needs to be sharped or flatted to preserve the M3 (e.g., Cflat-Eflat, C-E, C#-E#). Making minor thirds out of these notes will always require that the third is FLATTED an extra time relative to the root (e.g., Cflat-Edouble-flat, C-Eflat, C#-E)

    For all the natural minor thirds (D-F, E-G, A-C, B-D): Same deal (Dflat-Fflat, D-F, D#-F#). Making major thirds from these notes will always require that the third is SHARPED an extra time relative to the root (e.g., Dflat-F, D-F#, D#-F##)

    These last 2 rules are kind of like knowing that anything multiplied by 9 gives you a number whose digits add up to 9...not as easy as the P5 rule, but can help you nonetheless.

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    In one sense, intervals in notation are easy. If they want a 4th above (say), you just count lines and spaces up from your given note. So if you're given a note on the B line, the 4th above is going to be in the E space (top space).
    Either note might be flat or sharp, but the interval is still a 4th, and the notes are always in the same place. IOW, you simply count the 4th line/space up.
    The quality of the interval is what then requires a bit of knowledge (how many half-steps required)!
    B-E = perfect 4th
    Bb-Eb = perfect 4th
    B#-E# = perfect 4th (yes, those notes do exist )
    Bb-E = augmented 4th
    B-Eb = diminished 4th
    B-E# = augmented 4th
    B#-E = diminished 4th

    An inverted 4th would be the E a 5th below B (on the bottom line). Again, it could be augmented or diminished, the notes still appear on the same lines, they just have sharps or flats as required.
    (This matters when it comes to enharmonics. Eg B#-E sounds like C-E. C-E is a major 3rd, and the C, of course, appears in a different place to B#. C-E is only 3 lines/spaces (or note letters) so it's a 3rd.)

    You don't need to know your circle of 5ths for this (as far as I can tell). It's all about counting note letters (= lines and spaces) to get the number of the interval; and then half-steps (semitones) to get the quality of the interval (major, minor, perfect, whatever).
    You don't need to refer to any scale either, other than the normal natural notes structure: ACDEFG (you need to know the whole/half steps there). Just take account of any sharps or flats affecting the notes in question, which may mean looking for a key sig; but you don't need to know what key it indicates, only how it affects the notes you're dealing with.)

    If they want an interval below (say "4th below B") you just count downwards. That would give you F# (perfect 4th) or F (augmented 4th).
    Notice the interval is the same measured from the bottom note up.
    (F-B is an augmented 4th up from F or down from B. It's also an inverted diminished 5th, if that helps.... )

    Another tip that may help is that inversions always add up to 9 (perfect 4th inverted = perfect 5th, etc); and -
    perfect intervals stay perfect;
    major ones become minor, and vice versa (inverted major 3rd = minor 6th);
    augmented ones become diminished, and vice versa (as with the F-B above).
    Last edited by JonR; 09-27-2009 at 07:33 PM.

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