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:
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.