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Melody

Understanding Melodies: Interval Quality

We can identify intervals more specifically than by just giving them numbers. All intervals also have what is called “quality.” The quality of an interval can be major, minor, perfect, diminished, or augmented. We can determine the exact interval by using the scale degrees of a major scale. Let’s use the E flat major scale we just learned as our guide to figure out each interval above the pitch E flat.

Major and Perfect Intervals:

The quality of intervals within a major scale

If a melodic interval moves from scale degree 1 to the same pitch, that interval is called a Perfect unison.
The interval from E flat to F is a Major 2nd.
From E flat to G is a Major 3rd.
From E flat to A flat is a Perfect 4th.
From E flat to B flat is a Perfect 5th.
From E flat to C is a Major 6th.
From E flat to D is a Major 7th.
From E flat to E flat is a Perfect octave.

If the pitches lie within a major scale, then the intervals of a 1st, 4th, 5th, and 8th are called “Perfect.” The 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th are called major.


What about pitches that are not within a major scale? If any of these intervals are raised by a half step, they become augmented.

Augmented Intervals:

Example of augmented intervals

 

When perfect intervals are lowered by a half step, they become diminished. If any of the major intervals are lowered by a half step, they become minor.

Minor and Diminshed Intervals:

Examples of minor and diminished intervals


Learn how to determine the quality of intervals in a step-by-step process.

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