Music Theory

Here is a preview of some of the lessons included in Musicopoulos

Diatonic Intervals

Naming Musical Intervals

In our first lesson, we described the relationships between 2 notes in terms of steps. As we start to study chords and scales in greater detail, we need to make intervals more identifiable and put them in context with their surrounding notes. We achieve this by giving each interval a unique, descriptive name.

In this lesson, we will consider naming the interval between 2 notes relative to the major scale. Like diatonic chords, diatonic intervals belong to a major scale and sound “right” to the ear.

Interval names consist of 2 parts:

For example, if we consider the C major scale:

The interval from C to D is called a Major 2nd, where prefix “Major” indicates that this interval is diatonic to the major scale and the degree “2nd” lets us know that this is the second note in the major scale.

The interval from C to G is called a Perfect 5th. The degree “5th” lets us know that this is the fifth note in the major scale. The prefix “Perfect” is reserved for intervals that have a high degree of consonance. 2 or more notes are said to be consonant due to their simple pitch relationship, resulting in a pleasant sound when played together. Conversely, dissonance between 2 or more notes implies an unstable or unpleasant sound. This can be attributed to tension in a piece of music and which is resolved by moving to consonant tones.

Below is a table that provides a list of all the diatonic interval names.

Table of Diatonic Intervals