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A musical interval could be described as distance between two notes. While comparing two notes we can decide whether they have different or same frequency. You can train your notes comparison skills as played on various instruments with this exercise: Sound Comparison.

The first step towards interval recognition is the ability to define whether a note is high, by some called also squeaky, or low. The distance between the two notes is called an interval. While distance between e.g. school and house would be measured with feet, meters, steps or bus stops, the distance between notes is measured with semitones. Everything depends on how many semitones a given interval contains. For example, perfect fifth contains 7 semitones. Thus, instead of saying that the distance between two notes equals 7 semitones we can well call it a fifth – a perfect fifth, to be precise. We will certainly be understood by fellow musicians! Simple, isn’t it? Nothing, however, can be THAT easy… Since two semitones build a whole tone, the latter is a unit of measurement which will simplify our distance counting. If perfect fifth equals 7 semitones, it also means 3 whole tones and one semitone (3x2 + 1 = 7). This method usually proves easier while learning to recognize other intervals.

You can find glossary to musical interval names below: 

Interval Name Symbol Semitones Play
Perfect unison
(Diminished second)
P1/d2 0 
Minor second
(Augmented unison)

m2/A1

1


Major second
(Diminished third)

M2/d3

2


Minor third
(Augmented second)

m3/A2

3


Major third
(diminished fourth)

M3/d4

4


Perfect fourth
(Augmented third)

P4/A3

5


Tritone
(Augmented fourth)

d5/A4

6


Perfect fifth
(diminished sixth)

P5/d6

7


Minor sixth
(augmented fifth)

m6/A5

8


Major sixth
(diminished seventh)

M6/d7

9


Minor seventh
(augmented sixth)

m7/A6

10


Major seventh
(diminished eight)

M7/d8

11


Perfect Octave
(augmented seventh)

P8/A7

12




In fact, although there is actually no reason for not putting intervals together in some different way, the above-described system is the commonly applied method. In any case, it is the semitone number that counts. Should you need additional information or explanation, you can send us your remarks and suggestion using our Contact Form or post a comment. If you like this article spread the word by clicking Facebook "like" button or tweet about it.