• Do You Know Where Major And Minor Intervals Meet?

    in Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

    Post image for Do You Know Where Major And Minor Intervals Meet?

    If you’re interested in knowing where major and minor intervals meet, then this lesson is for you.

    Indeed, there are differences between major and minor intervals. However, understanding the relationship between major and minor intervals will help you create a mental link that will associate all major intervals with minor intervals and vice-versa.

    “Why Are Major And Minor Intervals Important?”

    Let me show you one of the reasons why major and minor intervals cannot be ignored; just in case you’re wondering why we have to learn about major and minor intervals.

    The major triad can be broken down into major and minor intervals. For example, the C major triad:

    …can be broken down into two intervals:

    C-E (a major third interval):

    E-G (a minor third interval):

    The first interval is a major interval and the second one is a minor interval.

    So, due to the importance of intervals in the study of chords and a variety of other reasons, we’ll be looking at the link between major and minor intervals in this lesson.

    “What Are Major And Minor Intervals?”

    Due to the fact that major intervals are diatonic intervals, I’ll prefer we start off with a brief discussion on diatonic intervals.

    Quick Insights On Diatonic Intervals

    Diatonic intervals are intervals that are formed between the first tone and other tones of the same major scale. In the key of C major:

    …here are some of the scale-tone intervals:

    C-C (a unison):

    …between the first tone of the scale and the first tone of the scale.

    C-D (a second):

    …between the first tone of the scale and the second tone of the scale.

    C-E (a third):

    …between the first tone of the scale and the third tone of the scale.

    C-G (a fifth):

    …between the first tone of the scale and the fifth tone of the scale.

    C-B (a seventh):

    …between the first tone of the scale and the seventh tone of the scale.

    Using the first tone and other tones of the scale, other diatonic intervals can also be formed.

    Major Intervals — Explained

    Major intervals are diatonic intervals of the second, third, sixth, and seventh tones in the major key. In other words, in the key of C major:

    …we have the following major intervals:

    The major second (C-D):

    The major third (C-E):

    The major sixth (C-A):

    The major seventh (C-B):

    There are other compound major intervals like:

    The major ninth:

    The major tenth:

    The major thirteenth:

    The major fourteenth:

    However, we’ll be focusing on the major second, major third, major sixth, and major seventh intervals.

    A Short Note On Minor Intervals

    Shrinking major intervals by a half-step produces minor intervals. For example, lowering the upper tone of the major second interval (C-D):

    …which is D:

    …by a half-step (to Db):

    …produces C-Db:

    …a minor second interval.

    Doing the same thing on the major third interval (C-E):

    …produces C-Eb:

    Of course we lowered the upper tone of the C-E interval (which is E):

    …by a half-step (to Eb):

    Just like we have four major intervals, we also have four minor intervals:

    The minor second (C-Db):

    The minor third (C-Eb):

    The minor sixth (C-Ab):

    The minor seventh (C-Bb):

    “Now That We’ve Refreshed Our Minds On Major And Minor Intervals…”

    Let’s proceed into learning the relationship between all major intervals:

    The major second (C-D):

    The major third (C-E):

    The major sixth (C-A):

    The major seventh (C-B):

    …and minor intervals:

    The minor second (C-Db):

    The minor third (C-Eb):

    The minor sixth (C-Ab):

    The minor seventh (C-Bb):

    “Here’s Where Major And Minor Intervals Meet…”

    The point where all major and minor intervals meet is called INVERSION. Before we go any further, let’s throw light on the concept of inversion just to refresh your mind on it.

    The Concept Of The Inversion Of Intervals

    The inversion of an interval is simply the change of the position of the notes of an interval. There are basically two notes, the lower note and the upper note.

    Using the C major third (C-E) as a reference:

    …we have two notes:

    C (as the lower note):

    E (as the upper note):

    The change of the position of the notes creates an inversion of the interval. If E becomes the lower note and C the upper note, we’ll have E-C:

    …which is an inversion of the given interval (C-E).

    Every other interval can be inverted this way.

    The Inversion Of Major And Minor Intervals

    When a major interval is inverted, what is produced is a minor interval. I’ll give you a practical demonstration right away:

    The inversion of C-E:

    …which is a major third interval, produces E-C (a minor sixth interval):

    You can clearly see how the quality of the major interval changed after inversion. That’s exactly how it works for all major intervals.

    Inverting the major sixth interval (C-A):

    …changes it to a minor third interval (A-C):

    The same thing is applicable to C-B (a major seventh interval):

    …that changes to B-C (a minor second interval):

    “Let’s Check Out Minor Intervals Too…”

    The inversion of any of the minor intervals produces a major interval.


    …is a minor second interval. However, its quality changes from minor to major when inverted to Db-C:

    Keep in mind that “Db-C” is a major seventh interval.

    The inversion of the minor sixth interval between C and Ab:

    …produces a major third interval (Ab-C):

    “So, Where Do Major And Minor Intervals Meet?”

    Major and minor intervals are related by inversion. The inversion of a major interval produces a minor interval and vice-versa.

    A clear understanding of this relationship will take away the disparity between major and minor intervals; so you can see them as two sides of the same coin.

    Final Words

    From what we’ve learned in this blog, it’s safe to say that all major intervals are related to minor intervals (and vice-versa) by inversion.

    It’s also important to know that the size of an interval also changes when inverted and we’ll be focusing on that in a subsequent lesson.

    Thank you for reading today’s lesson and don’t forget to post your comments, questions, suggestions, and contributions in the comment section.

    All the best.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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


    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Carolyn

    Thanks! You and Jermaine made it so simple. No one ever explained it
    this easy. Thank you! Thank you? Thank you. God bless for unlocking the mystery behind Intervals. Now I can practice in all 12 keys plus the inversions. God bless you men of God. Wow! Fantastic.


    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: