Every trade and profession has its own peculiar set of words and phrases to describe things…. you know, the ‘jargon’ …
The thing is, knowing some of this musician jargon and what it means is very helpful. It’s like having a rapid-fire super-shortcut or unfair advantage …
Learning these ideas will save you a massive amount of time , effort, confusion and frustration over the long run. Taking your time to understand them– now –will be well worth the minimal effort required. And once you learn it, you have it for life.
Besides being of huge benefit to you, it also means you can communicate with other musicians on a very productive level.
If it came down to it… I’d say understanding chords and intervals are the two most important subjects that you should work on more than anything else. You’ll discover why as we continue through this course of lessons.
Intervals – the building blocks of scales and chords
An ‘interval’ is simply — the distance from one note to another.
Intervals have a number and a quality, or type.
Intervals are firstly expressed as numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
But not all numbers are equal… and that’s where ‘quality’ comes in…
Types of intervals: They can be minor or major, perfect, diminished or augmented.
E.g. C to E is an ‘interval’ of a 3rd. You always count the note you are starting from as 1. So C=1, D=2, E=3. Quality: Major 3rd.
What you’re really doing is counting from one letter name (C) to another (E).
But what about C to Eb? That’s also a 3rd because there are three letter names and steps. C=1, D=2, Eb=3.
So C to E is a 3rd and so is C – Eb.
But C – Eb has a different quality… it’s a minor 3rd.
— Major 3rds and minor 3rds are what makes the difference between major chords and minor chords.
Minor 3rd and minor 7th intervals…
These are the intervals you should first learn about because they are common to chords of the major scale.
Another way to write these intervals is b3 and b7. That translates to a flattened 3rd and a flattened 7th. It’s just another (shorthand) way of saying “minor 3rd interval” and “minor 7th interval”.
Don’t get too bogged down with this at this stage. We’ll look at intervals as we continue through the course. Especially when we start looking at chords and their construction.