# Grade One Music Theory - Lesson 13: Intervals

Suitable for: ** ABRSM Grade 1 Trinity Grade 1 GCSE AP Music Theory Beginners **

## Intervals

An interval is the distance between two notes, measured as a **number**. In Grade One Music Theory (ABRSM and Trinity), sometimes you have to **measure** given intervals, and sometimes you have to **write out** notes at a certain interval.

## Melodic and Harmonic Intervals

We can measure the distance between two notes which are played **together **at the same time, like these:

The distance between these notes is called a "harmonic" interval.

Or we can measure two notes which are played **separately**, like these:

The distance between these notes is called a "melodic" interval.

We use the **same **method to measure both kinds of interval.

## Measuring Intervals

When we measure an interval, we always start counting from the **lower **note.

We then count upwards to the higher note.

Here, we start counting on the lower note, which is C. We count upwards to the higher note, E. This gives us C, D and E. We counted three letter names, so this interval is called a **third**.

If we count four letter names, the interval is a **fourth**, and so on, until we reach a **seventh**.

If we count eight notes and arrive back at the same letter, the interval is called an "**octave**".

If the two notes are the same pitch, it's called a "**unison**".

In Grade One Music Theory, all the intervals you have to calculate will start on the tonic (1st note) of the scale. Here are the intervals built from a tonic C:

## Intervals in Different Keys

In Grade One Music Theory, you need to know about intervals in C major, G major, D major (ABRSM only) and F major.

The method for working out intervals is always the same, no matter what the key is. However, don't forget that in G major you need F sharp, in D major you need F sharp and C sharp, and in F major you need B flat.

For example, in D major, a harmonic interval of a third will be this:

We start counting on the lower note, D. We count D, E and F sharp - three letter names, so the interval is a third.

In F major, an interval of a fourth will have a B flat:

We count F, G, A and B flat - four letter names, so it's a fourth.

## Writing Intervals

When you write intervals in your music theory exam, first you need to work out **which notes** you have to write, and secondly you need to write the notes **clearly and accurately**.

If you have to write an interval, you will be given the first (lower) note of the two, and you will be told what interval to calculate; something like this:

You'll also be told if you have to write a **harmonic**, or **melodic** interval. This one is a melodic interval, so we'll write the second note **after** the given note.

Remember that we start counting on the **lower** note, which is F in our example. We've been told to write a **7th**, so we count **seven** letter names upwards:

F, G, A, B flat, C, D, E

The seventh note is E, so that's the note we need to write.

Don't forget that we were told to write a **melodic** interval, so in this case we will write the E **after** the F, and not directly above it:

Don't forget to look carefully at the **clefs -** questions can be in the treble clef or bass clef.

Some intervals are a bit more awkward to write than the others. They are the harmonic unison and 2nd.

Harmonic intervals are written directly **above** the given note, but the unison is the same note, and the 2nd is too close to write directly above.

We have to move these notes to the **side** a little.

If you try to write a 2nd directly above, you will produce something unreadable like this: