Teach Yourself Music Theory – 27.) Digging Deeper Into Intervals

If you are still not comfortable with the topic of intervals, I suggest reviewing previous posts. Otherwise, let’s go for a quick refresher:

An interval is the distance between two different pitches/notes. The two different notes can either occur at the same time (called a harmonic interval) or consecutively one after another (called a melodic interval).

Another way to classify intervals is by the span. Simple intervals are those that span an octave or less in length between any two pitches. Those that are of a greater distance than an octave are called compound intervals.

Previously, we have only named up to an octave. To name compound intervals, do the following:

  • Take out the octave(s) distance apart
  • Decide what is the leftover simple interval quality
  • Name it (i.e. M2 )
  • Then at a 7 to the value ( M2 +7 = M9 )

Intervals can also be classified by being grouped into their inversion relation; meaning, that when you take two notes and invert them by either having the lower note go above the higher note… or having the higher note go below the lower note, you produce another interval.

Let’s practice this concept. Start by writing middle C on a staff followed by the E4 pitch above it. Notice that this interval makes a M3. Now, take the middle C and move it up an octave to C5. You have now inverted the pitches, creating a m6 interval. So, M3 and m6 are inversionally related.

Practice writing two different pitches and naming the interval. Then, invert them and find the new interval.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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