This podcast is part one of a two-part series on the blues scale — what it is, how it is used, and how it is formed. Listen how to include a minor 3rd, diminished 5th, and minor 7th to add all kinds of color to a plain major scale:
In addition to the normal notes of a chord, you can add notes called “color tones”. They are called that because they add color and interest to a song. Some of the color tones you can add are 6ths, 7ths, major 7ths, 9ths, flatted 9ths, flatted 10ths, 11ths, 13ths, and combinations of all of these. Watch this short video that explains color tones:
To learn about a course on Color Tones, click here.
Everyone who has ever taken a piano lesson knows what a scale is and has probably had to practice them endlessly. The most common type of music scale is a major scale, but every major scale has a relative minor scale. They are called “relative minor scales” because they are related to a major scale. For example, the A minor scale is related to the C major scale because it uses the same notes — it just starts and ends on a different key. In other words, if I played the C scale but played it from A to A, I would be playing the A minor natural scale.
Everything has intervals. Runners measure their success by the interval between their start and finish time. In math, an interval is the distance between two numbers (integers for you math wizzes). Although music is often seen as artsy and not based on anything concrete, music is actually very much based on math and today we’re going to look at an example of that.
In music, an interval is the distance between two notes and is expressed based on scale degrees. Let’s look at how to identify the basic intervals.
Let’s start with identifying the interval between C and E. If we count up from C (count C as #1) there are three scale degrees between C and E (C,D,E equals 3). For this reason, the interval between C and E is a third (3rd). What is the interval between D and A? If you count D as #1 and count up to A, there are 5 scale degrees between D and A which makes the interval a fifth (5th)
Nothing in music is that simple, though. There are different types of these intervals. There are Major 3rds, minor 3rds, Perfect 4ths, and minor 6ths to name a few but it’s not as complicated as it sounds. The amount of half steps between each interval defines the specific type of interval. Let’s look at a few.
What is the interval between C and Eb? Let’s count the half steps (C to Db, Db to D, D to Eb equals 3 half steps) 3 half steps equals a minor 3rd. Try this one on your own. What is the interval between D and A? Remember to count the half steps. The easiest way to do that is to count them on a piano. Then figure out the name: (“m” equals minor, “M” equals Major, “P” equals Perfect)
Did you say that the interval was a Perfect 5th? If you did, you got it right! Good job!
Before we call this lesson complete, two more quick facts: The reason that the fourths and fifths are called Perfect has to do with some advanced concepts grounded in acoustics but the short answer is that a perfect interval is more pure and stable than major intervals.
There are also diminished and augmented intervals as well as tritones. All of these advanced intervals will be addressed in later articles. For now, practice identifying the basic intervals and you will be well on your way to understanding the important points.
All music theory (the study of how music is constructed) is based on identifying intervals so put some work in to this lesson before moving on to more advanced topics.
For more musical knowledge, come on over to Play Piano Catalog and browse the many courses in music.
How To Turn a Chord Into a “Cascading Waterfall Run”
It’s pretty easy to take most any chord (4 note chords are easier than 3 note chords, generally, simply because of the way your hand is constructed) and turn it into a “cascading waterfall” of sound.
For a complete course in creating piano runs, please click here: Piano Runs Galore!