Advanced Piano Intervals Occur In All Types of Music

With a good understanding of the basic music intervals you can move onto more advanced piano intervals which you’ll find in virtually all types of music whether played harmonically (two notes at the same time) or melodically (one note after the other).

We will begin with the ‘perfect’ intervals, notably the perfect 4th and perfect 5th. Although these intervals can’t be major or minor they can be augmented or diminished. ‘Augmented’ means the second note moves up a half step while the bottom base note stays put. ‘Diminished’ means the second note moves down a half step. All piano intervals can be augmented but often it wouldn’t make much sense to do so since there would be an easier way to classify many of the resulting intervals. For example, an augmented third is basically just a perfect fourth, and an augmented sixth is like a minor seventh.

However, let’s do the same exercise we had in the last article by trying to come up with a mood or movie for each interval. However, this time play the ‘perfect’ interval first and later add the augmented or diminished interval so that you can get a feel for the transition. Play each interval several time in different registers of the piano and at different speeds until you find an image that clicks.

Perfect FifthAugmented Fifth (C – G to C – G sharp)

Perfect Fifth – Diminished Fifth (C – G to C – F sharp)

Notice in the second example (C – F sharp), we end up with a very mysterious piano interval called the ‘tritone’. It is the most dissonant interval of all the intervals and usually resolves with the base note going downward and the upper note going a half step upward. For example (C – F sharp) resolves to (B – G). More on this will be covered in piano chords.

Perfect FourthAugmented Fourth (C – F to C – F sharp) – Oooh, that’s eerie!

Piano intervals are a fundamental thing in music which makes it easier for musicians to write and perform music as well as to make piano chords or harmonies. Without expertise in music intervals, and not just the major ones, a person will have a very difficult time in writing their own music as well as practicing or singing as they are important for the making of good music. Ear training exercises are almost always based on training the various music intervals as getting them engrained into your ear forms the basis of a sound music education.

There’s really nothing to it and it’s not rocket science. Each and every scale generates a unique collection of intervals; so each sound has its own character. They are then effortlessly determined and shown through number of half steps from the starting tone.

Caveat: Watch out for any enharmonic notes when naming intervals which are notes that have the same pitches but are spelled in diverse ways. An example is a B and C flat or a C sharp and a D flat – they are the same note in both cases. Listening to intervals accurately is a key skill for virtually every musician, casual or perhaps critical.

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