Types of Tone Intervals in Music that Need to be Known

For those of you who are music lovers, you are certainly familiar with the term tone interval in music art lessons at school. However, before discussing more about pitch intervals, let’s first understand a little about music.

In terms, music is a series of tones arranged in such a way as to produce beautiful harmonization. Music can be produced from the sound of musical instruments being played or even just by clapping and other surrounding objects. Reporting from the book History of Music and Art Appreciation written by Sila Widhyatama, there are important elements that play a role in forming music. These elements include:

  1. The main elements, which are related to harmony, rhythm, melody, and song structure.
  2. The elements of expression, which are related to tempo, dynamics, and timbre.

In the world of education and teaching, arts and culture and skills are one of the subjects contained in primary, secondary and basic education programs in the formulation of the basic competencies of each subject embodied in a series that every knowledge is taught, learning must be continued until students are skilled in present the knowledge he has mastered in a concrete and abstract manner in the form of or related to works of art and culture, and behave as human beings with a high sense of appreciation for works of art.

The art of music itself is an education that provides the ability to appreciate and express art creatively for the development of students’ personalities and provides a balanced attitude and emotion. Through the art of music we can also form discipline, tolerance, socialization, democratic attitudes which include sensitivity to the environment. In other words, music art education is a subject that plays an important role in helping the individual development of students which will later have an impact on the growth of reason, thought, socialization, and emotion.

In learning the art of music, students listen, experience, appreciate about scales, intervals, and chords. The process of learning scales, intervals, and chords is not enough just to understand the theory, but you also have to try to practice them using musical instruments such as piano, guitar, piano, and other melodic instruments.

The instrument functions not only to sound the notes that must be sung, but also to control the accuracy of the notes that are sung. The aspect that must be prioritized in interval learning is the accuracy of the tone. The pitch interval is the frequency distance between one note and another, both the up and down pitch.

In the diatonic musical system each interval has a different name. The names used for the intervals consist of Prime, Second, Tert, Quart, Kwint, Sekt, Septim, and Octave intervals. Each of these intervals can be changed up and down ½ steps.

Understanding the Art of Music

Understanding the art of music in language consists of two words, namely “art” and “music” which each word has its own meaning. Art is a dimension of human creation or feeling that is poured into certain media to channel it or implement it to other people. Then the word “music” comes from the word mousikos meaning in Greek is the god of beauty who has power in the arts and sciences.

The definition of the art of music is then interpreted as a scientific field or a school of art that uses tones and sounds or a combination of temporal relationships to convey artistic expressions, messages or values ​​to others in one unit and continuity.

So, the notion of music art is a branch of art that focuses more on prioritizing the use of harmony, melody, rhythm, tempo, and vocals as a means of conveying the values ​​of art itself from artists or art makers to other people or art connoisseurs.

Elements of Music Other Than Tone Intervals

  1. Harmony is the harmony of sound from a combination of two or more tones, which differ in pitch.
  2. Rhythm is a sound or a group of sounds with various short note lengths and stress or accents on the notes.
  3. Melody is a series of tones that sound sequentially.
  4. The structure or form of a song is the relationship between musical elements in a song, so as to produce a meaningful song composition.
  5. Song tempo is how fast or slow the rhythm is in a song.
  6. Expression is an expression of thoughts and feelings, which includes tempo, dynamics, and color, which is conveyed from the singer to the listener.

After understanding the basic meaning of music, we will then enter into a discussion of pitch intervals and their types. Here’s the explanation:

Definition of Tone Intervals

The interval is a measure of the distance in pitch between two notes. Harmonic intervals occur when two notes are sounded simultaneously, while melodic intervals occur when notes are sounded alternately. The method of measuring
intervals is the same for both harmonic and melodic intervals.

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There are two elements used for naming intervals, namely the naming of the number and the quality of the interval that precedes the number. The numeral designation is a measure of how far apart the notes are vertically spaced in the staves, regardless of the accidental markings that accompany them.

When talking about intervals, we use the terms unison instead of 1 and octaves instead of 8. Intervals smaller than an octave are called simple intervals , while larger intervals (including octaves) are called compound intervals . It is important to note that the “2” (second) harmonic interval is written or denoted with the top note shifted slightly to the right of the bottom note. Accidentals are handled in the same way for 2nd, 3rd, or 4th harmonic intervals, if both notes require accidental additions.

In general, the interval is the distance between one note to another which is measured by the high and low. Scales are a form of arrangement of notes that are centered on one basic tone. Inside the scale there is another small form that makes up the scale, namely the relationship between each individual note that forms melody and harmony. By understanding the form of these relationships, it will be easier for us to reach an understanding of the emotions we can create for music listeners.

The distance between two notes is known as the interval. If the two notes are played together then we know it as interval harmony, and if the two notes are played one and then followed by another note, we know it as interval melody. When two notes are played simultaneously we will hear three things, namely the two notes plus a third component, namely the combination of the two notes themselves.

Each interval has its own quality and mood. We will identify each note with a number, so we can apply these numbers to different keys or notes, because even though the notes are different, the quality of the intervals we listen to will remain the same. The quality of the perfect 5th interval between the notes c and g will sound the same as the quality of the perfect 5th between the notes g and d, or the quality of the perfect 5th interval on the other notes.

Interval quality is indicated by the number of half steps between the two notes. We use the major scale with the key or key of c, namely with the musical notes cdefgab c’ or with the notes number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 used with the assumption that the major distance is used. If we look at the scale above, the distance of ½ steps is only in the distance between 3 to 4 and 7 to 1.

Apart from these notes the number is 1 step, automatically between these notes there is still one more note shown in the diagram above. We also identify these tones with numbers to make it easier for us to recognize the quality of the intervals.

Types of Tone Intervals

1. Prime Tone Intervals

Prime is the distance between one note and another with the same pitch. Pitch is the precision of pitch. An example of using prime tone intervals is the distance from C to C again.

2. Second Tone Intervals

Second is the distance between one note and another with a pitch one level above it. An example of using the second tone interval is C to D.

3. Terts Tone Interval

Terts is the distance between the first note and the third note. An example of using the third note interval is C to the note E for the uppermost. The intervals in large chords give the impression of a bright melody, while in small chords the melody jumps from C to Eb. The melodic impression of the minor ones is cramped, dark, and sad.

4. Quart intervals

The quart is the distance between the first and fourth notes. An example of using quart intervals is C to F.

5. Quint Tone Interval

The quint is the distance between the first and fifth notes. An example of using quart intervals is C to G.

6. Sex Tone Interval

Sext is the distance between the first note and the sixth note. An example of using quart intervals is C to A.

7. Septim Tone Interval

Septim is the distance between the first note and the seventh note. An example of using quart intervals is C to B.

8. Octave Tone Intervals

Octave is the distance between the first note and the eighth note. An example of using quart intervals is C to C in the next octave.

The names of quality intervals are divided into two basic groups, namely:

  • Perfect intervals (pure), including prime intervals (1), quart intervals (4), quint intervals (5), and octave intervals (8).
  • Major (large) intervals, including secondo intervals (2), terts intervals (3), sext intervals (6), and septim intervals (7).

Each of the basic intervals above can be varied, namely by widening the distance or narrowing the distance. To widen the distance, the upper tone is raised 1 semitone or the lower tone is lowered 1 semitone, while to narrow the distance, the upper tone is lowered 1 semitone or the lower tone is increased 1 semitone.

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The entire major interval, if it is widened by 1 semitone, will become an augmented interval , but if it is narrowed by 1 semitone, it will become a minor interval and if it is narrowed again by 1 semitone, it will be a diminished interval . Likewise in the perfect interval , if it is widened by 1 semitone it will be an augmented interval , but if it is narrowed by 1 semitone it will be a diminished interval .

The names of the qualities and quantities of an interval are usually written using symbols, as follows:

  • M: major (big).
  • m: minor (small).
  • A: augmented (more).
  • d: diminished (less).
  • P: perfect (pure).
Primes: 1 (1 tsp ) Quintes: 5 (5 th )
Secondo: 2 ( 2nd ) Sex: 6 (6 y )
Text: 3 (3 rd ) Septim: 7 (7 yrs )
Quart: 4 (4 th )  Octave: 8 (8 th )


P 4th = P 4 : Quart perfect = pure quart
M 2nd = M 2 : Secondo major = second big, and so on.

How to pass the names in an interval as follows:

  1. First, look at the notes below and define them as tonics.
  2. Assume that the interval is in a scale with the tonic being the bottom note.
  3. If the top note is one of the notes in the scale, that interval is the base interval that hasn’t changed. However, if the top note is not one of the notes in the scale, it means that the note has changed. The change can be in the form of a widened or narrowed pitch.
  4. After knowing whether the top note is widened or narrowed, by looking at the table above, you can determine the name of the interval.

If the augmented interval is widened by 1 semitone, it will become a double augmented interval . Conversely, if the diminished interval is narrowed by 1 semitone, it will become a double diminished interval .

Reversal Intervals

If the lower note of an interval is placed as the upper tone (raised 1 octave), or if the upper tone of an interval is placed as the lower tone (decreased by 1 octave), the interval is said to be an inversion interval, so the second interval will become a septim interval . , the terts intervals become sext intervals, and quart intervals will become quint intervals, while the quality of major intervals will become minor intervals, augmented intervals will become diminished intervals, perfect intervals will still be perfect intervals, and vice versa.

1 >< 8
2 >< 7
3 >< 6
4 >< 5

Major >< Minor
Diminished >< Augmented
Perfect >< Perfect

Intervals that are not more than 1 octave are called simple intervals , and intervals that are more than 1 octave are called compound intervals .

Characteristics of Interval Sounds

The following are the characteristics of the scales of the basic sequence in a piece of music, including:

  1. The distance between one note to another. An example is the cdefgabc scale, the pitch range is 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½.
  2. Rows of rising notes (up and down) of each scale. An example is cdefgabcagfedc.
  3. Step from one note to another. An example is the C major scale, the note c to c is the 1st step.

So, that’s an explanation of pitch intervals that are often used in music theory and practice. It is hoped that the discussion content discussed in this article will provide benefits for teachers and students in understanding tone intervals, so that they are able to apply them at an applicable level.

New information obtained through this article hopefully can open new horizons for all participants and can contribute ideas related to the field of teaching in music. Indeed, the field of art, especially music is not always limited to binding theoretical principles. The need for expression through the arrangement of tones or sounds is the main goal for us to study music.

The author suggests that participants should always apply the knowledge in this learning unit to skills activities, especially those related to the process of introduction and performance. By practicing skills, we will undoubtedly gain direct experience which will make us more sensitive to the problems that arise.

In this case, the writer can say that experience is the best teacher. Even so, an understanding of knowledge is still needed to be able to understand musical skills as a whole. However, if you are only armed with an understanding of knowledge without being accompanied by skills, it is also incomplete.

Finally, the author cites a saying that knowledge and skills are like two sides of a coin that complement each other. Without knowledge, we will surely be blind, and without skills, we will be paralyzed. Do both in balance, and we will understand the field we study thoroughly.

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