Music Theory 101: Intervals | Jason Rivera | Skillshare

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Music Theory 101: Intervals

teacher avatar Jason Rivera, Composer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:02
    • 2. Defining Intervals

      1:11
    • 3. Interval Quantity

      3:04
    • 4. Interval Quality

      7:23
    • 5. Building Intervals

      6:05
    • 6. Class Assignment

      9:36
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About This Class

Gain an understanding of intervals with composer Jason Rivera. This class focuses on understanding how intervals work and how to build them.

The class features detailed explanations and demonstrations on the piano. You will learn techniques and concepts that can be applied to writing music in practically any genre.

The main topics covered in this class are:

  1. Defining Intervals
  2. How to figure out Interval Quantity
  3. How to figure out Interval Quality
  4. How to build Intervals
  5. The difference between melodic intervals and harmonic intervals

For your class assignment you will complete a short series of written exercises designed to help solidify your new knowledge of intervals.

This class is for musicians, songwriters and composers who want to expand their knowledge of music theory so that they can master their craft.

The course is designed for beginners, however it assumes that you are familiar with the musical alphabet, how to read the treble and bass clef staffs, what half steps are, how to construct the major scale, major sharp keys and major flat keys.

Learning how intervals work deepens your understanding of music and you can build upon what you learn in this class to understand how chords and melodies are constructed. So learning about intervals is one step on the path towards more freedom, confidence and efficiency in your music.

By the end of this class you will have a solid understanding of intervals and how to build them.

I’d love to hear your feedback and I encourage you to leave a review for this class. And don’t forget to follow me to make sure that you receive all of my updates and resources.

If you want to continue your music education I have many other courses available. I have other classes on songwriting, scales, melodies, and writing chord progressions. I invite you to check out those other classes which you can find on my profile page here https://www.skillshare.com/user/jasonriveramusic

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jason Rivera

Composer

Teacher

Hi!

I'm Jason Rivera. I compose music and teach from my studio in Los Angeles, CA. You can check out my music on my website and you can join my email list for updates.


“Excellent class!!! He made concepts that have been difficult to understand previously so clear and concise. Really got a lot out of this class. This is foundational to becoming a good composer. Can't wait to try doing the assignments!!!”

- Mona Lisa P, Skillshare Student


“Things I have been confused about for years finally made sense to me through Jason's instructions. I can't thank you enough, Jason.”

- Ronja B, Skillshare Student


“Great work, with engaging visuals and great audio and video qua... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hello. I'm Jason Rivera, a composer and multi instrumentalist. I have written and played on many professional recordings, have composed music for film toward the U. S. As a performer and have worked as a producer on music projects to really master playing and writing music, it's essential that we have a practical understanding of music theory. This is why I've created this music theory one on one. Siris, of course, is in these classes. I cover the essential tools and concepts that you need to be able to better express yourself as a musician and songwriter or composer. In this class, we're going to cover the subject of intervals. My goal with this class is to provide you with the basics of understanding how intervals work and how to build them. Specifically, we will cover defining intervals, how to figure out interval quantity, how to figure out interval quality, how to build intervals and the difference between melodic intervals and harmonic intervals . This class is for musicians, songwriters and composers who want to expand their knowledge of music theory so that they can master their craft. The course is designed for beginners. However, it assumes that you are familiar with the musical alphabet, How to Read the Trouble and bass clef staffs. What half steps are how to construct the major scale Major Sharpe keys and major flat keys . Learning how intervals work deepens your understanding of music. And you could build upon what you learn in this class to understand how chords and melodies air constructed. So learning about intervals is one step on the path towards more freedom, confidence and efficiency in your music. By the end of this class, you will have a solid understanding of intervals and how to build them. All right, let's get started with our class. 2. Defining Intervals: welcome. I'm so glad that you decided to join me in this course. Now let's jump right in and get started learning about intervals. Intervals deal with the relationships between individual notes, and they are at the heart of creating both melodies and chords. By better understanding these relationships, you learn how to better control the emotional effects in the music that you write. Put simply, an interval is the distance between any two notes. There are melodic intervals, which is when notes are played in a succession, for example in the melody. And there are harmonic intervals, which is when two notes are played at the same time. For example, in accord, we'll go deeper into this later on in the class. For the moment, I just want to make you aware of these two types of intervals when figuring out an interval . There are two main aspects that you need to look at. Interval quantity and interval quality 3. Interval Quantity: Okay, so we're gonna start out by looking at interval quantity. The number size oven interval is called the Interval Quantity. You figure out the interval quantity by counting the total number of letter names between two notes and the quantity is counted the same way in any key that you happen to be in. Let's look at a few examples. The distance from C to D contains two letters of the musical alphabet C and D, so this interval is a 2nd 1 to another example. The distance from D toe F contains three letters of the alphabet D e and F, so the interval is 1/3 123 Another example. The distance from A to G includes seven letters of the alphabet a, B, C D e half i N g 1234567 So this interval is 1/7. I want you to make a note that interval quantities of the same whether you count from a lower note up like I did in the three previous examples or if you count from ah, higher note downwards to a lower note. For example, if we reverse our first example and count from D Down to see. This contains two letters of the musical alphabet D on DSI Eso. This interval is also a second two intervals, which requires some explanation, are the octave and the unison. If an interval contains eight scale tones, it's called inactive, for example, from C up to see. In other words, you have to notes of the same name, but they're a different pitch this. See eyes higher than this, see, so there are different pitch Okay again, this is called inactive the distance between two notes of exactly the same name and the same pitch. In other words, only one letter in the musical alphabet is called a unison where you might hear unison and real life is, for example, if you have all the players in one section of violins in an orchestra, all playing the same note at the same pitch and at the same time, then they'd all be playing a unison note. All right, so that covers interval quantity. I'll see you in the next video, where I'll explain interval quality 4. Interval Quality: Now we're gonna talk about interval quality in addition to the number size of intervals, the interval quantity which we covered in the last video lesson. There are also types of intervals. The different types of intervals are perfect intervals, major intervals, minor intervals, augmented intervals and diminished intervals. Before I go into each type of interval, let me give you an example of the difference between interval quantity and interval quality . Let's say we have the notes, see see you and C E flat. Those two intervals have the same number of notes. Three. So the interval quantity is 1/3. However, the exact distance from CD is different than from seedy flat. And these two intervals look different when written out in cheap music. And they sound different obviously when played on an instrument. So we need to have a more exact way to measure these distances. The exact measurement is the interval quality. The interval quality is the number of half steps the interval contains. So how do we figure out the interval quality? Well, first you figure out the interval quantity by counting how many notes are contained in the interval. Maxie, implement your knowledge of the major scale and of major keys. If you need a refresher on major scales, please check out my other class in my music theory. One on one, Siris on scales. It's a 15 minute course called Music Theory one on one major scales That'll get you right up to speed in terms of major scales. Remember earlier in this class, I mentioned the different interval types. We're going to start by looking at major and perfect intervals. If the upper note in the interval belongs to the major scale of the lower note, then the internal is either major or perfect, depending on the interval quantity. We're gonna look at this using the C major scale. In the first example, we have C to D, which is a second. The note D belongs in the C major scale. So this is a major second and the next example we have C t e on on the interval. Quantity is 1/3. The note e belongs in the C major scale, so this is a major third. Next we have C to F, and here we have four notes C, D, E and F. So the intervals of fourth the top note F belongs to the C major scale, so this is a perfect fourth. Next, we have the interval from C to G that contains five notes. So it's called 1/5 12345 Nog belongs to the C major scale, so it's called a perfect fifth. Next we have from sea to a thistle interval contains six notes So it's 1/6 123456 The note A belongs in the C major scale So it's Ah, Major Sixth are okay Now we have the notes. See to the note be this'd interval is 1/7 1234567 Note be belongs to the C major scale So this is a major seventh and last We have the notes see up to the next see a productive Obviously the upper see belongs to the C major scale So this is a perfect octave. Now if the top note of the interval doesn't belong to the major scale of the bottom note. This is where our three other interval qualities come into play minor diminished and augmented. Now let me cover the possible interval quantities and qualities A second could be major. It could be minor, diminished or augmented you. 1/3 can be major. It could be minor. It could be diminished or augmented. 1/4 can be perfect, diminished or augmented. 1/5 can be perfect, diminished or augmented. A six can be major minor, diminished or augmented. 1/7 can be major, could be minor, diminished or augmented, and active can be perfect, diminished or augmented. Take a look at this chart, which illustrates how to figure out the various interval qualities. Make note of these key points if you have a major interval and you make it 1/2 step smaller than it becomes a minor interval. If you have a minor interval and you make the interval 1/2 step larger, it becomes a major interval if you have a perfect interval or a minor interval and you make it 1/2 step smaller than it becomes a diminished interval. If you have a perfect or major interval and you make it 1/2 step larger than it becomes an augmented interval, all right, so that covers our lesson on interval qualities, and our next lesson we're gonna practice how to build intervals together 5. Building Intervals: early in this class, I mentioned that there are melodic intervals and harmonic intervals. Melodic intervals are intervals that appear one known at a time, for example, in a melody. Harmonic intervals are when two notes are played at the same time. For example, in Accord, let's start by building melodic intervals to build a melodic interval going up or a sending . You take the first note and you count the number of major scale notes determined by the interval quantity. Let's look at an example. If you want to create a perfect fifth up from the note G, you count up five notes from G 12345 and you land on D. The note D is part of the G major scale, so you've got a perfect fifth up from G, and you're done. If the interval they want to create is perfect or a major, and you follow the step that I just described, that's all they have to do. If you want to create a minor, diminished or augmented interval, then you need to adjust the major scale interval up or down. For example, let's say you wanted to create a minor sixth up from G. So you count up six notes from G 123456 and you land on E the note. He is in the G major scale, but we want a minor six, so we have to adjust the E to make it a minor sixth. So we want to lower that e by 1/2 step by putting a flat symbol in front of it and make it an e flat way. Have a minor sixth. Here's a special note. When you need to raise or lower a note, you don't necessarily need to use a sharp or flat. This is where knowing key signatures comes into play. The key signature of the bottom note of the interval will tell you which accidental if any , that you need to use if you need a refresher on key signatures. I have two other bite size classes in my music theory. One a one Siri's and I welcome you to check them out. Music theory. Wanna one major Sharpe Keys and music theory one on one major flat keys. Those two classes will help you get right up to speed on key signatures. All right, so now let's build a melodic interval, going down or descending. When you build a descending melodic interval, you raise or lower the bottom note to get to the interval quality that you're after. So you start with any given note and count down the number of note letter names given by the Interval Quantity. For example, let's say we want to create a perfect fifth down from the note. D you count down five note names 12345 Now you take the upper note, and if that note belongs to the major scale off the lower note, you're done. And this example D is in the G major scale. So we're done. We have a perfect fifth, just like when building a sending intervals. If the top note belongs to the major scale of the bottom note and you're looking to create a perfect or major interval, then you're done. If you're trying to create a minor, diminished or augmented interval, then you have to adjust the lower note up or down. For example, if you want to build a major third down from C, then first you count down three notes. Once that takes you to the note, A. However, what we have there is a minor third because the notes C sharp is the major third in the key of a major and the third note in the a major scale. So, like I mentioned, you have to lower the bottom note. So we make the A on a flat, and now we have a major third from a flat to see OK now onto harmonic intervals. When you play two notes at the same time, they form a harmonic interval to find the interval quantity. In the interval quality of harmonic intervals, you used the exact same process as melodic intervals. For example, an interval of a perfect fifth from F Up to See is the same interval whether each note has played one at a time, as with melodic interval or if you play the perfect fifth half and see at the same time as a harmonic interval. One last note before I end this segment of the class. When you create augmented or diminished intervals and some keys that have sharps or flats in the key signature, you can run into a situation where a note needs to be raised or lowered twice for much natural place in the major scale in this situation, use a double flat or a double sharp. For example, Earlier in this class, I took a major second interval from C to D and made it diminished by taking the D and lowering it to a D double flat. Here's an example of using a double sharp. If you want to create an augmented seventh up from G, you would make the major seventh F sharp, an F double sharp. The double flat is formed by drawing two flats next to each other. Before the note, the double sharp is formed by writing and hex in front of note. Okay, that's it for building intervals. I'll see you in the next video lesson where I'm gonna explain your assignment for this class. 6. Class Assignment: that completes our course on intervals. I hope that this class deepen your understanding of this topic. Now let's take a look at our class assignment, your assignment for this classes to complete a short series of written exercises that I've created to help solidify the knowledge you've gained in this class. I've uploaded any notes that I think will help you understand the concepts we've covered along with the exercises sheet to the projects and resource is section of this class. Please download those materials and print out the sheep with the exercises on it and grab a pencil or pen. I want you to work on these exercises by hand so that you gained the added benefit of improving your hand written music notation skills. If you have access to a piano keyboard, I recommend working on these exercises at the keyboard. This is not required, but working on intervals at the piano gives you the added benefit of getting the sound of the intervals into your years. For exercise, one have created a trouble clef staff and a bass clef staff your exercises to identify the interval quantity, and I've listed several intervals and both the trouble and bass clef staffs in the first example here I have the note f and above that note is the notes. See, there are five notes in this interval. F G Hey B and C 12345 So this interval is 1/5. So I write in fifth and the space provided and I'm done with that particular exercise. Let's look at another example. Here we have the notes. Hey, and s if I count up from a deaf, we have the notes A B, C D Do you in f? There are six notes in this interval. 123456 So this is 1/6. So I write in sixth in the space, provided you can see that figure out. Interval quantities is pretty easy and straightforward. It's simply a matter of counting notes. So this is the process that you'll use to complete exercise one on to exercise, too. This exercise builds directly off of exercise one. Here, you're gonna figure out the interval quantity and quality. Let's look at a couple of examples in the bass clef staff. So here have the notes be G. So first I'll figure out the interval quantity. If I start at B and take a tally of the notes we have from BTG, we have C, F and G. 123456 So that's six notes. So we know the quantity is 1/6 now to figure out the quality. Remember that six could be major minor, diminished or augmented. So you ask yourself, Does the top note of the interval belonged to the major scale of the bottom note? The bottom notice be the key of B major and the B major scale has five Sharps, including G sharp. And in this example, the G is natural and G natural is not in the B major scale. So we know that this is not a major interval. It's 1/2 step smaller than a major interval, so this makes it a minor interval. So this interval is a minor sixth and I write a minor sixth in the space provided onto another example. Here we have the notes D on D Data E contains two notes one So this interval is a second and we have the interval quantity Now to figure out the quality, remember that seconds can be major minor, diminished or augmented. So now you ask yourself, Does the top note of the interval belonged to the major scale of the bottom note? The bottom notice D the key of D major and the D major scale has two sharps half sharp and C sharp. So the note e belongs to the D major scale. So we know that this is a major interval. So this interval is a major second and I write in major second in the space provided and that's the process you go through to figure out exercise too. Now on to exercise three for the first part of exercise three, you're gonna building intervals listed above the given note and here we're building intervals in the trouble cleft staff Here I have the note E So the first step is to draw in e the next active up in the space. And in this case, we want a perfect doc tive. So we just leave the e up above as is, and we have an interval of a perfect doc tive. So that's the process for completing the first part of exercise three. For the second part of exercise three, we're gonna build intervals below the given notes and for these were working on intervals in the bass clef staff. The note given here is a flat and I need to create a diminished fifth interval. So the first step is to build the interval quantity. So if I count five note names down from a flat, I land on D. So now I ask myself, Does the top note belong to the major scale of the lower one? So, in this case, does a flat belong to the key of D major in the D major scale in the d major scale that a is natural and from D to a would be a perfect fifth? Remember, Fifth can be perfect, diminished or augmented. In this case, a flat is 1/2 step smaller than a so from D day flat eyes a diminished fifth. So I drawn a d below the A flat and the staff and this example is done, and that's the process for completing both sections of exercise. Three. I hope that all of the work we're doing here with intervals is starting to sink in with this subject. The more you practice, the quicker you'll get at identifying intervals and the more natural it will become. It's a matter of repetition and practice. As you are working on these exercises, I recommend going back and reviewing the previous video lessons in this class. The best way to learn a new concept is through constant repetition of information and then applying it. Also, as I mentioned, I would highly recommend working on these exercises at the keyboard or piano the way I did . Like I said, this helps to develop your year For now. I'm not gonna upload an answer key to these exercises because I don't want you to be tempted to look at that and just plug the answers. And I want you to sit and take your time with these exercises and really think and play your way through them. I'm more than happy to check your work, answer any questions and give you notes on your assignment. Once you've completed the exercises, either skin or take a high resolution photo of your completed exercise sheet and upload the file to Dropbox or Google Drive and then head to the projects and resource is section of this class, Then click on Create Project on the next page, give your project a title and then paste in the link to your file. Last but not least, be sure to hit. Publish. Don't forget to read the project description on the class page, where I've listed out the specific steps for your assignment. And be sure to download the project materials and the projects of Resource is section. Remember, the goal of these exercises is to start building your practical know how in regards to intervals and then sharing your work and your questions with your fellow classmates and me . This way we can learn together as a supportive community. Also, I'd love to hear your feedback, and I encourage you to leave a review for this class. And don't forget to follow me to make sure that you receive all of my updates. And resource is lastly, I want to mention that if you want to continue your music education, I have many other courses available. I have other classes, music theory, song writing scales, melodies and writing court progressions. I invite you to check out those other classes as well. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions that you may have by posting them to the discussion section on the class page. I'll do my best to answer your questions as quickly as I can. Thank you so much for taking this class, and I'm looking forward to reviewing your work.