02 -The Smallest Intervals (minor second vs MAJOR second)

Quick Review

Make sure to read the short theory lesson on an introduction to The Musical Alphabet? Were you able to quiz yourself on the timed exercise?

The musical alphabet is really easy to learn… A-B-C-D-E-F-G

The Space Between

Try this simple experiment: Hold your hand out in front of you with all five fingers spread, palm facing inward. You will notice space between each finger. Would you agree….this ‘space’ between your fingers is not the actual finger(s) but the distance between each finger?

The Distance Between A, B, and C

In music, there is a space or distance between two letter names of the musical alphabet. It is not always the same distance either. The distance between A and B is different than the distance between B and C.

***If you are not careful, you may make the mistake of thinking these ‘spaces between’ are the actual musical alphabet letter names. I’m not exactly sure why, but many of my younger students have struggled with this concept of space between.

Intervals for the 4yr old beginner…

Each letter of the musical alphabet represents a specific sound. Just as the letter A is different from the letter B, so is the sound represented by the letter A different from the sound represented by the letter B. One sound would be higher, the other lower.

Did you know: the musical distance between each ‘letter’ in the musical alphabet is measured by ‘Steps’. This distance is measured in half steps and whole steps.

example: Right now I am sitting at my desk. If I decide to get some water to drink, I will need to get up and take some steps so I can move from the desk to the kitchen. I can choose to take small half size steps or larger whole steps. Does that make sense?

There are two types of basic musical steps: Half Steps (H) and Whole Steps (W)

***It is important to understand these ‘steps’ represent the distance between note letter name. They do not represent actual note letter names.

Pictures of Whole and Half Step Differences:

Look at the A, B, and C.  Look at the ‘W’ under the A and B. This ‘W’ stands for WHOLE STEP. Do you know what the ‘H’ stands for?

You’ll notice the B and the C are adjacent. That means they are immediately next to each other -with nothing in between. This is a great example of a half step.

*it is very important to understand that the distance between some letters in the musical alphabet are a whole step apart, while others are only a half step.

Intervals for big people

Serious music people prefer to use the words whole tone and semitone instead of steps. The idea is the same. The world interval really comes into play conceptually with more advanced music theory. There are many different types of intervals and names of intervals. In keeping with the close proximity and relationship between adjacent musical alphabet letter names of the musical alphabet, I want to bring to your attention in this lesson the two smallest intervals: the minor second and the major second.

minor 2nd (m2)

**When you see two adjacent black or white notes (which is considered in this lesson to be a half step), the interval is traditionally identified as a minor second -or- m2. Notice the lower case ‘m’.

half step =m2 (minor second)

Major 2nd (M2)

***When you see two black or white notes next to each other, but another note can be found in between, (which is considered in this lesson to be a whole step), the interval is traditionally identified as a major second -or- M2. notice the uppercase ‘M’.

whole step = M2 (MAJOR second)

Take a second to test your understanding of the half step and whole step relationships. Test yourself now. Shoot for 18/18 100% in one minutes time.

Whole & Half Step on Guitar Fret Board:

Do you see the numbers to the right? They represent the number of strings on a six-string guitar. There is no ‘5‘ because, in this diagram, it has been replaced by an ‘A‘. If the guitar is in ‘standard tuning’, the fifth string is an ‘A‘. Notice there are no ‘black keys’ on the guitar diagram. If you want to play the ‘B‘ you can stay on the same string as the ‘A‘, but will need to press the string down on the 2nd fret.

Notice we skip over the first fret.

So, how many types of ‘steps’ are there again? __________ and, what are their names?

Do you know how many half steps it takes to make a whole step? ____

***The letter names of the musical alphabet are used to make the scales we used in melodies. Each letter name has a numeric value attached, but depending on the ‘key’ or ‘scale’, these attached numeric values will differ.

next free theory lesson…

01 -An introduction to the Musical Alphabet

The Music Teacher

I am a teacher. Teachers give assignments. I am a father too. I teach my children. I give my students and children assignments.

So at the end of this short lesson and each of the following lessons, you will have an opportunity to test your knowledge and understanding of some basic and fundamental music theory ideas.

One time I gave them the following assignment as we were talking about building a music business on the way to school. I asked my oldest son Ezekiel and my middle daughter Jaylia to survey their friends and teachers with this question:

“What do you remember about your first lesson?” and “If you have never had a music lesson before, what would you want to learn during your first lesson?”

The response…overwhelmingly? notes. the notes. The people remember most that they learned the notes or they thought it might be best for them to learn the notes first.

Before we get into those ‘musical notes’, I want to cover something really important. If you would like to skip to the musical alphabet test, click the link. Otherwise, let’s talk a little about what music is. First. Before anything.

What is Music?

Music is a language. Music is a language of emotion and culture. Every emotion has a sound. Every culture has a sound.

Music is a language of written symbols. Think for a moment. If the English language is to be read by others, a system of written symbols must be available. The period. The question mark. The comma, The letter ‘R‘ or ‘S‘. Upper case. Lower case, etc…

It is the same with the language of music. If someone is to be able to read music, a written system of symbols must be available.  Are you able to name any music symbols?

Doesn’t that sound fun? FURRRRR MAHHH TAAAAAAAAAH

Like most languages, it could be said there are also many dialects or accents to this language of music. Depending on the style, mood, and culture, music can be expressed in a variety of different ways through the spectrum of emotion. Take a moment and think about one of your favorite songs. Why do you like the song?

I’m not sure about you, but it’s hard for me to think of my favorite song.

In all honesty, there are so many great, great, great songs I could list off (and I’m certain you could too)..and the list would change each day, week or month…right?

So, for this lesson, check out one of *the* basic building blocks to the written language of music: The Musical Alphabet!

G
F

E

D

C

B
A

Did you start from the top and read down? Great. Now take a second and re-read starting from the bottom. This idea of going up and down is important in music …very important, and we will learn more about this later.

Begin with the End in Mind

We started with the letter ‘G’ because this is where the musical alphabet ends.

Visionaries ‘begin with the end in mind’, so let’s be visionaries today! Once we know the end we can begin with confidence. Right? Ready? A B C D E F G.

So, what comes after ‘G’?

If you said ‘H’, you are either (1) trying to be really funny or (2) or internationally credited (in Germany the Bb is still referred to as B, while the B is known as H…yep)

But in western cultures, there are no ‘H’s, no ‘I’s, no ‘J’s, etc. in the musical alphabet. Just ABCDEFG!

What comes after ‘G’? you start over with ‘A’ again (one octave higher), then ‘B’, then ‘C’…until you get to ‘G’. Then what? another ‘A’, then ‘B’, then ‘C’….and so on. So, how many letters are there in the Musical Alphabet?

Study the Diagram Below

Here is a great little exercise for you. Your goal should be to get 15/15 correct in one minutes time. 100%.

Before you start, study the diagram above. Do you see the ‘C’? Do you see the ‘D’?

This next question will be very important in helping you be able to identify any letter of the musical alphabet on any keyboard in the world. Notice that the ‘D’ is located between the TWO black key group. Is there a ‘D’ to be found anywhere between the THREE black key grouping?_____

Notice the ‘D’ is located between the TWO black key group. Do you see it?question: Is there a ‘D’ to be found anywhere between the THREE black key grouping?_____ (no)

The ‘D’ is found between the TWO black keys. Always.

Now its Test Time

Use this exercise to test your knowledge and understanding of the musical alphabet of the keyboard. Remember, your goal should be to get 15/15 correct in one minutes time. 100%. Click the image below to test your skills. 🙂

Get to Know the Basics of Music Theory

In all practical and common senses, these seven letters are used as a standard to represent certain pitches played on just about any musical instrument you can name and think of.

Next Lesson?

How to Play Jingle Bells (beginner easy guitar)

If you are a beginner and would like to learn how to play the chorus melody to Jingle Bells on the guitar, you may learn from these video tutorials. The videos also include a few ideas and exercises to help develop your skill and technique.

Easy Guitar Lesson

As you go through these short lessons, make sure you focus on two important things: clear tones and a steady pulse. my motto: too fast + too soon = too sloppy

Our apologies for the low quality audio. These lessons were originally made specifically for a student to use as a practice assignment. We are sharing because there are probably many people who would enjoy playing this simple melody on guitar. Hope this helps you.

23- What does a Quarter Note Look Like?

A Quarter Note is one of the very first music symbols introduced to the music student. In written music, the Quarter Note is black (as with all standard written music symbols), not white as in the image to the left. As you can see, the quarter note has an oval shape which is filled in and also a vertical line extending up or down from either the right or left side.

The Value of a Quarter Note

A Quarter Note receives a quarter of the value of a whole note. So it might be good to understand what a whole is, right? click here for a review.

In Common Time (also know as four four), a whole note receives a total of 4 beats.

So let’s do some simple math: if a whole receives 4 beats in Common Time, how many beats would a Quarter Note receive? ______

If you said ‘one beat’  you are correct. If you understand grade school math, you know a quarter simply means one-fourth (1/4).

If I have \$1 (One US Dollar), and divided into four equal parts, I would be able to show you a 25¢ (twenty-five cents).

If I had a one big whole big yummy pizza and divided into four equal parts (or quarters), I would have four pieces of pizza (and so would you). That would be the same as having four quarters.

What about some sports? 4 quarters to one game? …and some schools? four quarters to the school year? …and financial reports? …quarterly?

So, from the examples, it should be clearly seen and understood that a Quarter Note is one-fourth (1/4) the value of a whole note.

The Staff and The Quarter Note

Just like everything else, Quarter Notes belong somewhere. They have a home, a place, a purpose. Below you can see how the Quarter Note looks in its natural environment.

21 -The Difference between Pulse & Meter

Pulse is what moves your body when you listen to music.

It can be really fast or really slow or anything in between.

Meter is an organized pulse. A pulse can be organized into one or more meters. The meter is influenced mostly by the feel and length of the melody. If the melody is absent, the meter is decided by the length and accents of a percussive rhythm.

Meter is commonly called Time Signature. There are many different time signatures used in music today.

20 -Musical Moody Modes

If you know anything about music and pitch/tone, you understand pitches/tone can be played and heard at low frequencies or high frequencies…as well as everything in between …and beyond.

Scales are simply organized pitches connecting lower to higher pitches *in order* thru a series of steps and various intervals. (In music, an interval is the simply the distance between two tones.)

There are many different types of scales.

One of the most common is the diatonic. A Diatonic Scale is a common scale with eight notes (seven different pitches/tones with note number eight completing the ‘octave’).

One of the most used and recognized Diatonic Scales is the Major Scale (I don’t know about you, but Julie Andrews voice from The Sound of Music Comes to alive…)

Did you know the common Major Scale with which most of our ears may be familiar is only one of several modes? Did you know it also has a special musical geek name? Ionian.

Say it out loud. Go ahead: Ionian (eye-ow-neon)

Within any given major key there are up to seven different diatonic scale modes (that is because there are seven different pitches within a Diatonic Scale). The following are the special names of these modes:

1. Ionian
2. Dorina
3. Phrygian
4. Lydian
5. Mixolydian
6. Aeolian
7. Locrian

Each of these modes may be characterized by certain moods and emotion triggers. Many are very foreign sounding because they are not regularly used in western pop music. To really dig deep into history and theory of music may cause your head to start spinning….it does mine.

The simplest thing for now is to realize that for the most part, western music can be pretty much divided into two modal categories: Major and minor. And, as mentioned previously, each of these types of modes invoke certain moods and emotions.

Major = happy, lighter, fun, party

Minor = serious, somber, darker, depth, mysterious

19 -What is a Half Note (and half rest)?

A Half Note is a notation symbol which receives half the counted value of a whole note. A whole note commonly receives 4 beats. So many many beats would a common Half Note receive? __________.

Half Notes have note ‘stems’. The note stems may point up or down depending on where they are found on the staff.

*It is very important to understand that beats are not the same as seconds. Many beginning students easily mistake the counted value of notes as being measured in terms of seconds.

As mentioned in the previous whole note lesson, every note had an equal valued rest and name. If there is a name and value for a note, there is an equal and same name and value for a rest.

This is what a half rest looks like.

It is easy for some students to confuse the half rest for the whole rest.

The half rest is ‘up’. The whole note is ‘down’ …see?

Personally, I like to tell students the Half Rest looks like a hat.

Learn about the Quarter note now.