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Music Theory: Naming Intervals...



The first step in knowing how to correctly name an interval is getting all of your major key signatures memorized. The "Key Signatures," handout, (you can download below), will show all of the sharp and flat key signatures. Spend time memorizing all of the keys. Work with friends and have them quiz you, or create flash cards with the keys on one side and their correct sharps or flats on the other. It might take awhile, but memorizing all of the keys is very important.

Next, you should understand the definition of what exactly an interval is. An interval is the distance in pitch between two tones.

For example: "C" tone to an "A" tone is a 6th.
Since the "A" can be found inside the key of "C Major," it is considered a, "Major 6th."

Each interval name is a combination of quantity and quality.

QUANTITY = The total number of letter names an interval contains.
QUALITY = The total number of half-steps an interval contains.


There are two categories of intervals:

(1). PERFECT INTERVALS - Which include: 1st (unisons), 4th, 5th, 8th (octaves)

(2). MAJOR or MINOR INTERVALS - Which include 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th

ASSIGNING QUALITY: There are four rules for assigning Quality...
#1). When a major interval is decreased by a half step it becomes MINOR.
#2). When a minor or perfect interval is decreased by a half step it becomes DIMINISHED.
#3). When a major or perfect interval is increased by a half step it becomes AUGMENTED.
#4). When a minor interval is increased by a half step it becomes MAJOR.
Note: These four rules must become memorized.

Download the PDF Handout for this Lesson:

(4 Pages - Includes all explanations, Key Signatures and Written Assignments)

Interval Lesson PDF Handout