Our focus in today’s lesson is on the semitone.

So many intermediate players would dismiss this lesson because it has to do with the semitone. However, there are important tips about the semitone that a vast majority of musicians don’t know yet; not because it’s difficult, but because it’s too simple.

It’s good to learn complicated concepts and advanced techniques, however, the importance of learning and being grounded in basic concepts like the semitone cannot be over-emphasized.

In the next 10 minutes or so, you’ll be learning the proper definition of the semitone, its occurrence, and most importantly, the two semitone types.

## The Semitone – Explained

It is important for us to lay the foundation of this study by expounding on the octave. Permit me to do that quickly before we proceed.

### A Short Note On The Octave

There are eight components in every key, and the octave is the eighth component in a key (be it a major or minor key). In the key of C major:

*“Check Out The Eight Components…”*

C is the

tonicD is the

supertonicE is the

mediantF is the

subdominantG is the

dominantA is the

submediantB is the

subtonicC is the

octave

The octave (which is C):

…is the eighth component in the key of C major:

…and a duplicate of the first note in the key (aka – “tonic”):

…which is also C.

The term octave can be used in other subtle ways too. For example, the interval between the tonic (C):

…and the octave (C):

…is an octave:

Also, all the notes within the compass of a octave:

…can be considered as an octave. Hence, there are twelve musical notes:

…within an octave:

Seven natural notes:

…and five accidental notes:

*“What Is A Semitone?”*

The semitone is usually defined as the shortest musical distance between two musical notes, and there’s nothing wrong with that definition. There are no notes between E and F:

…on the piano. Consequently, the musical distance between them is a semitone.

*“Here’s How Music Scholars Define The Semitone…”
*

The semitone is a product of the division of the octave into TWELVE EQUAL PARTS. If you do the math, a semitone is one-twelfth of an octave.

Now, the good news here is that you don’t need slice the octave:

…into twelve equal parts by yourself – the octave [by default] consists of twelve musical notes with equal distances between them.

The distance from C-C (which is an octave):

…consists of twelve equal parts.

*“Check Them Out…”*

C to C#:

…is the **first** part.

C# to D:

…is the **second** part.

D to D#:

…is the **third** part.

D# to E:

…is the **fourth** part.

E to F:

…is the **fifth** part.

F to F#:

…is the **sixth** part.

F# to G:

…is the **seventh** part.

G to G#:

…is the **eighth** part.

G# to A:

…is the **ninth** part.

A to A#:

…is the **tenth** part.

A# to B:

…is the **eleventh** part.

B to C:

…is the **twelfth** part.

In a nutshell, the semitone remains the shortest distance between two notes on the piano and is also known as the half-step.

## Final Words

I believe that you’ve learned something about the semitone from this lesson. If you have any question, kindly post it on the comment section below.

Thanks for your time and see you in another lesson.

Cheers!

#### Chuku Onyemachi

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