• A Lesson On The 3 Octave Types Every Serious Musician Must Know

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    There are 3 octave types and if you’re interested in learning about them, then this lesson is for you!.

    Attention: What I’m about to share with you is a closely guarded information that only a few music scholars know about.

    A vast majority of musicians (especially those who play by the ear), are conversant with just one octave type, and if you do the math, knowing one out of three octave types means having a knowledge of 33.3% of octave types and that’s way below average.

    At the end of this lesson, you’ll be learning 66.6% of the octave types every serious musician should know.

    Let’s get started by reviewing the concept of the octave.

    A Review On The Octave As An Interval

    There are twelve notes (aka – “pitches”):

    …on the keyboard. Seven of them:

    …are white and are classified as natural pitches while 5 of them:

    …are black and are classified as accidental pitches.

    The entire keyboard layout:

    …consists of several twelve-tone sets.

    “Check Them Out…”

    1st twelve-tone set:

    2nd twelve-tone set:

    3rd twelve-tone set:

    4th twelve-tone set:

    Submission: It’s possible to have as much as 7 twelve-tone sets in a keyboard layout.

    Due to the repetition of the twelve-tone set, it’s possible to have several notes that have the same letter name on the keyboard. For example, several notes on the keyboard can have the letter name C…

    1st C:

    2nd C:

    3rd C:

    4th C:

    Notwithstanding that the notes above have the same letter name (C), they differ from each other in pitch level. This C:

    …would sound higher than that C:

    …and this C:

    …would sound lower than that C:

    All the Cs don’t have the same pitch level. The distance in pitch (aka – “interval“) between two successive Cs on the piano is an eighth interval.

    Let’s check out the interval between this C:

    …and that C:

    C-C:

    …a first.

    C-D:

    …a second.

    C-E:

    …a third.

    C-F:

    …a fourth.

    C-G:

    …a fifth.

    C-A:

    …a sixth.

    C-B:

    …a seventh

    C-C:

    …an eighth.

    Attention: Take note that the interval from C to C is an eighth interval.

    “What Is An Octave?”

    The term octave is derived from a Latin word octava – which means eight – and is one of the important intervals for a variety of reasons that we can’t go into, in this lesson.

    Suggested Reading: Beyond The Number “Eight” – 4 Dimensions Of The Octave.

    The octave is acoustically, musically, and naturally an important interval.

    “Acoustically…”

    In acoustics, the octave is the first upper partial (aka – “harmonics”) of any fundamental note. In the science of acoustics, when a note is played, it is said to be a fundamental note, having several other upper partials.

    If the note C:

    …is played, it has several other harmonics like C:

    …G:

    …C:

    …E:

    …G:

    …Bb:

    …etc., as the upper partials of the fundamental tone (C):

    However, it’s important to note that the octave is the first upper-partial in the harmonics series, making it one of the most important intervals in acoustics.

    “Musically…”

    The octave as an interval, is considered to be important because it is a number of musical equivalence, repetition, or new beginning.

    All the Cs on the keyboard:

    …are musically equivalent because they are an octave apart from each other.

    Also note that letter names on the keyboard repeat after eight notes. For example, the note E:

    …would repeat itself as an eighth tone (E):

    …after seven notes from E to D:

    Now that we’ve reviewed the octave, let’s go into our main focus for the day – learning three octave types every serious musician must know.

    3 Octave Types Every Serious Musician Must Know

    I guess you’re ready to learn the 3 important octave types, without further ado, here they are:

    The Perfect Octave

    The perfect octave is the octave type we focused on, earlier in this lesson. The perfect interval is a product of the relationship between the first and eighth tones of the natural major scale.

    Using the C major scale:

    …the perfect octave can be formed by the relationship between the first and eighth tones – which are C:

    …and C:

    …respectively.

    The perfect octave is the most stable octave type, practically formed by duplicating the letter name of its root.

    The perfect octave can be formed on Eb:

    …by duplicating the Eb note:

    Suggested Reading: Beyond The Number “Eight” – 4 Dimensions Of The Octave.

    “Here’s The Perfect Octave In All Twelve Keys…”

    C perfect octave:

    Db perfect octave:

    D perfect octave:

    Eb perfect octave:

    E perfect octave:

    F perfect octave:

    Gb perfect octave:

    G perfect octave:

    Ab perfect octave:

    A perfect octave:

    Bb perfect octave:

    B perfect octave:

    The Augmented Octave

    Augmented intervals are intervals that are larger than perfect and major intervals. Therefore, the augmented octave is an interval that is larger than the perfect octave by a half step.

    Using the C perfect octave:

    …we can form the C augmented octave by raising this C:

    …by a half step (to C#):

    …to form the C augmented octave:

    “Take Note…”

    The augmented octave should neither be considered as nor spelled as the minor ninth interval. The minor ninth interval from C:

    …is Db:

    …consequently, C-Db:

    …is a minor ninth interval.

    Although the C augmented octave:

    …and the C minor ninth:

    …intervals can be played with the same finger keys on the piano, they are structurally and functionally different.

    So, while forming the augmented octave in all twelve keys, beware, lest you end up forming the minor ninth interval.

    Suggested Reading: Overcoming The Illusion Of “Enharmonic Intervals“.

    “Here’s The Augmented Octave In All Twelve Keys…”

    C augmented octave:

    Db augmented octave:

    D augmented octave:

    Eb augmented octave:

    E augmented octave:

    F augmented octave:

    Gb augmented octave:

    G augmented octave:

    Ab augmented octave:

    A augmented octave:

    Bb augmented octave:

    B augmented octave:

    The Diminished Octave

    The diminished octave is an octave type that is smaller than the perfect octave by a half step.

    Using the C perfect octave:

    …we can form the C diminished octave by lowering this C:

    …by a half step (to Cb):

    …to form the C diminished octave:

    “Take Note…”

    The diminished octave should neither be considered as nor spelled as the major seventh interval. A major seventh interval from C:

    …is B:

    …consequently, C-B:

    …is a major seventh interval.

    Although the C diminished octave:

    …and the C major seventh:

    …intervals can be played with the same finger keys on the piano, they are structurally and functionally different.

    “Check Out The Diminished Octave In All Twelve Keys…”

    C diminished octave:

    C# diminished octave:

    D diminished octave:

    D# diminished octave:

    E diminished octave:

    F diminished octave:

    F# diminished octave:

    G diminished octave:

    G# diminished octave:

    A diminished octave:

    A diminished octave:

    B diminished octave:

    Final Words

    Getting to the end of this lesson lets me know that you’re serious about learning the 3 known octave types. We’ll end our discussion here today, and continue in a subsequent lesson where I’ll be showing you how these octave types can be used in the formation of chords.

    Until then!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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