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Intervals

As mentioned above, the difference between notes is called an interval. It is important to understand intervals before learning how to build chords which are combinations of notes. The intervals between the keynote of the major scale and each successive note are denoted the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and octave. The following list gives the technical names for all the common intervals along with an example.

Common intervals

Unisons
Unison: C-C
Seconds
Minor 2nd: C-Db
Major 2nd: C-D
Augmented 2nd: C-D#
Thirds
Diminished 3rd: C#-Eb
Minor 3rd: C-Eb
Major 3rd: C-E
Augmented 3rd: C-E#
Fourths
Diminished 4th: C-Fb
Perfect 4th: C-F
Augmented 4th: C-F#
Fifths
Diminished 5th: C-Gb
Perfect 5th: C-G
Augmented 5th: C-G#
Sixths
Minor 6th: C-Ab
Major 6th: C-A
Augmented 6th: C-A#
Sevenths
Minor 7th: C-Bb
Major 7th: C-B
Octaves
Perfect 8ve: C-C

I have included some fairly unusual intervals but this is by no means a complete list. Once past an octave we are into the realm of compound intervals. The naming is quite obvious, for example a major 9th is an octave plus a major 2nd.

If you have the Scorch plugin from Sibelius then look at the example intervals page where you can see intervals in musical notation and hear how they sound.

Now that you understand intervals you can move on to chords.