Photo by Duncan McKinnon
Intervals are used in all styles of guitar music from pop, blues, country to jazz and classical music.
Learning to play and understand intervals are a great value to your guitar playing. It will help you to understand chords, scales and add beautiful melodic and harmonic ideas to your improvisation.
Today I’ll start with the interval of a third. It’s probably the most often used interval in pop music, but also widely used in all other styles.
In music theory, an interval is the distance in pitch between any two notes. When you play these two notes simultaneously they are called harmonic intervals. When you play the notes separately one after the other they are called melodic intervals.
Here are two ways to determine intervals:
1 – Finding intervals by counting the number of semitones between the two notes.
2 – Finding intervals within a scale. (diatonic intervals)
Here are all intervals from C within one octave:
Note: 1/2 step = 1 fret, 1 step = 2 frets.
0 steps = Unison (from C to C) 1/2 step = Minor second (from C to C#)
1 step = Major second (from C to D) 1+1/2 steps = Minor third (from C to D#)
2 steps = Major third (C to E) 2+1/2 steps = Perfect fourth (C to F)
3 steps = Augmented fourth (C to F#) 3+1/2 steps = Perfect fifth (C to G)
4 steps = Minor sixth (C to G#) 4+1/2 steps = Major sixth (C to A)
5 steps = Minor seventh (C to A#) 5+1/2 steps = Major seventh (C to B)
6 steps = Octave (C to C)
C major scale: C D E F G A B C
Interval of a 2nd: From C to D, D to E, E to F, F to G, G to A, A to B and B to C
Interval of a 3rd: From C to E, D to F, E to G, F to A, G to B, A to C and B to D
Interval of a 4th: From C to F, D to G, E to A, F to B, G to C, A to D and B to E
Interval of a 5th: From C to G, D to A, E to B, F to C, G to D, A to E and B to F
Interval of a 6th: From C to A, D to B, E to C, F to D, G to E, A to F and B to G
Interval of a 7th: From C to B, D to C, E to D, F to E, G to F, A to G and B to A
In the examples below we first see the C major scale (2 octaves): C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C.
Then we start playing the 3rd intervals within the C major scale and next we’ll be moving them up the neck. The red notes indicate the root notes. All the intervals below are played in the key of C, that means every root notes is a C note.
If you want to play the intervals in a different key like the key of D for example, just move up all the notes a whole step. Your red root note now becomes a D note. If you want to play in the key of E move up 2 whole steps. Play in the key of A? Move all the notes down a 1+1/2 step.
Take your time to learn and memorize the intervals. See if you can make some nice melody.
Enjoy the experience!
C MAJOR SCALE
DIATONIC 3RDS IN THE KEY OF C
3RDS ON THE HIGH E & B STRINGS (MELODIC)
3RDS ON THE HIGH E & B STRINGS (HARMONIC)
3RDS ON THE B & G STRINGS (MELODIC)
3RDS ON THE B & G STRINGS (HARMONIC)
3RDS ON THE G & D STRINGS
3RDS ON THE G & D STRINGS (HARMONIC)
3RDS ON THE D & A STRINGS (MELODIC)
3RDS ON THE D & A STRINGS (HARMONIC)
3RDS ON THE A & LOW E STRINGS (MELODIC)
3RDS ON THE A & LOW E STRINGS (HARMONIC)
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