Chord Construction Part 9: Naming Large Intervals in Chords

In this Lesson we'll look at some common Terminology when using and talking about Intervals larger than a Whole-step.

To do this let's step back to basic Intervals and basic Triads. By doing this we can look at the individual Intervals within the Triad.

Let's look at these "3rd" Intervals we've been working with:

The Major 3rd Interval...

From the Root to the M3 we have traveled a distance commonly referred to as "a Major 3rd (M3)" or "Two Whole-steps":

Two Whole-steps = M3 Interval or M3 Interval = Two Whole-steps

Any two notes that are Two Whole-steps apart can be called a Major 3rd (M3) apart from each other.

The Minor 3rd Interval...

From the Root to the b3 we have traveled a distance commonly referred to as: "a Minor 3rd (m3)", "a Flat 3rd (b3)", "One Whole-step and a Half-step", or "One and a Half Steps".

One and a Half Steps = b3 or b3 = One and a Half Steps

Any two notes that are One and a Half Steps from each other are called a Minor 3rd (m3 or b3) from each other.

Let's look at the Major Triad:

In a Major Triad the Root to the M3 is Two Whole-steps, or a Major 3rd Interval, correct? How far is the M3 to the 5? We'll, their distance is One and a Half Steps from each other...One an a Half Steps can commonly be called a Minor 3rd, remember.

So, people look at the Major Triad as two separate Intervals "stacked" on each other...a M3 Interval then a m3 Interval.

Hey, remember in the Intervals Series when we learned the term: Stacking 3rd's? This is exactly what we are doing here...from the Root note we are stacking on a M3 Interval, and from the M3 note we are stacking on a m3 Interval to reach the 5.

Let's look at the Minor Triad:

In the Minor Triad the Root to the b3 is One and a Half Steps, or a Minor 3rd Interval, correct? How far is the m3 to the 5? We'll, their distance is Two Whole-steps from each other...Two Whole-steps can commonly be called a Major 3rd, remember?

So, people look at the Minor Triad as two separate Intervals "Stacked" on each other...a m3 Interval then a M3 Interval.

Hey, remember in the Intervals Series when we learned the term: Stacking 3rd's? This is exactly what we are doing here...from the Root note we are stacking on a m3 Interval, and from the m3 note we are stacking on a M3 Interval to reach the 5.

I hope that makes sense. Stacking Intervals on top of each other is exactly what Chord Building is.

This is our first example of "stacking 3rd's". This is a very important piece of the puzzle. So, if you are still unclear what was just taught, please read it again to fully grasp the terms and how they relate to the simple Triads.

Let's recap:

Major Triad: R <--Two Whole-steps--> M3 <--One and a Half Steps--> 5

So, a Major Triad consists of a M3 interval and then a m3 Interval.

Minor Triad: R <--One and a Half Steps--> b3 <--Two Whole-steps--> 5

So, a Minor Triad consists of a m3 Interval and then a M3 Interval.

The Major and Minor Triads are inverse from each other, or opposite.

In the Intervals Series we understood that "Stacking 3rd's" meant: looking at every other note in Major Scale, or every "3rd" note. If you now go back and look at the distance of "every other" note, you'll see those distances are nothing more that groups of either Major 3rd or Minor 3rd Intervals.

More on this in the next lesson.