Naming The Distance Between The Notes
Of A Major Scale Is A Simple Task
If You Know These Basic Rules.

First let's divide Intervals into these 2 main groups:

  • Simple: All intervals within the span of 1 octave.
  • Compound: Any interval that extends beyond 1 octave.

Now, within those 2 groups, lets split them up for easier understanding:

  1. The 8 Intervals in every major scale (including perfect unison or prime), all measured from the tonic to the other 7 notes (diatonic to each key):
  2. Any of the other 48 interval possibilities inside each major scale from any scale note to any other (also still diatonic):
  3. All other intervals that don't fit into 1 or 2 are chromatic or compound intervals.

1. The 8 Simple Diatonic Intervals (in the keys of C, A & Eb):

8 Diatonic Intervals

2. The Other 48 Simple Diatonic Intervals (in the key of C):

The Other 48 Diatonic Intervals


From the above 2 tables we can see that:

  • Intervals are either:
  • 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th intervals (in the diatonic scale) are either Major or Minor.
  • Unisons, 4th, 5th and octave intervals (in the diatonic scale) are mainly Perfect, Augmented (+ 1/2 step) or Diminished. (- 1/2 step)

Here are all the simple diatonic interval possibilities expressed in 1/2 steps:

  • PERFFECT UNISON = 0 half steps
  • MINOR SECOND = 1 half step
  • MAJOR SECOND = 2 half steps
  • MINOR THIRD = 3 half steps
  • MAJOR THIRD = 4 half steps
  • PERFECT FOURTH = 5 half steps
  • AUGMENTED FOURTH = 6 half steps
  • DIMINISHED FIFTH = 6 half steps
  • PERFECT FIFTH = 7 half steps
  • MINOR SIXTH = 8 half steps
  • MAJOR SIXTH = 9 half steps
  • MINOR SEVENTH = 10 half steps
  • MAJOR SEVENTH = 11 half steps
  • PERFFECT OCTAVE = 12 half steps

This should make the recognizing, naming and memorizing of diatonic intervals a little easier.
I feel that this music theory subject is quite over-rated and it is not absolutely necessary to know all of its secrets to survive as a musician.
Of course if you really need to find out the minute details, just google "music intervals" and you'll have enough material to choose from to last you for weeks.

The next step after diatonic intervals is to learn how to name chromatic or any other intervals including the compound ones.

Sure its great to be able to name them all,
but more importantly:
Can you distinguish the SOUND they make?

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