I have a worksheet to prepare me for my A level music; however I'm confused when being asked to name these intervals: Some possibly correct or incorrect intervals image :)

My logic is that as both the tonic and above note are both flat meaning the distance isn't bigger or smaller, therefore it isn't augmented or diminished?


Since both of them are flat, it is the same interval they would be without flats. So:

  1. Bb - Eb would be the same as B - E which is perfect fourth.

  2. Bb - Ab would be the same as B - A which is minor 7th.

  3. Bb -Db would be the same as B - D which is minor 3rd.

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  • 2
    Just count the semitones. Nothing else matters. The way described here works fine. Whatever other method you settle on works too, as long as effectively you're counting semitones. – slim Aug 18 '14 at 13:22
  • @slim what I usually do is to try to visualize them on the guitar. I have memorized all the interval-patterns and I figure them out that way – Shevliaskovic Aug 18 '14 at 13:25
  • @slim - aug.5th = 8 semitones, min 6th = 8 semitones, different note names, different intervals.This something else does matter. – Tim Aug 18 '14 at 14:44
  • @Tim OK, but if you're that strict, other methods described in this page fail. And at A level they're not going to differentiate between A# and Bb. – slim Aug 18 '14 at 15:29
  • @slim - that, to me, would seem to miss the point of inervals.C- G# has to be an aug. 5th, whilst C-Ab has to be a min 6th. It's as much what has happened to the note that makes it what it is. Also writing it in music wouldn't be right. And if A levels have been dumbed down that much, the dogs in the street will be getting into uni... Shev's answer works, as does Grey's, and mine. We're not counting semitones as much as following notes in particular keys, using the lower as the start note. – Tim Aug 18 '14 at 16:57

The answers provided here offer a useful trick, which is to quickly translate into a scale you already know to find the answer. For instance, if you know that

C to E is a major third, then it must be the case that Cb to Eb is a major third and also that C# to E# is a major third, too.

It's fine to use this trick when it comes in handy, but it sounds like you really need to drill through your scales. You've got to know them cold. Then this useful trick helps you think faster, but does not become a crutch. Like all tricks, it is only helpful some of the time.

So, Bb to Db is a minor third. That's because in the Bb major scale, Bb C D Eb F G A Bb, we do not have a Db. The major third, Bb to D, is reduced by one half-step, producing a minor third. You can also say that in the Bb minor scale, Bb C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb, the Bb to Db is the normal minor third that appears. Either way, referring to the scale is the best way to understand it in the long term.

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Or, to put it another way,

Νo. 10 -Bb- A is a major 7th, so to Ab is a minor 7th.

No. 11 - Bb - D is a major 3rd., so to Db is a minor 3rd.

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Another way to look at it is there are basically five options an interval can be.

Perfect Major Minor Augmented or Diminished.

A perfect interval is an interval that fits in both the minor and the Major scale of the root note. So for instance C - G is a perfect fifth because both C minor and C Major have a G. Remember though that perfect intervals only happen at the Unison, the Octave, Sub Dominant and Dominant.If the perfect interval is raised by a semitone we have an augmented interval. For instance C - G# and when it is lowered by an interval we get a diminished interval C - Gb (Also Cb to G or C# to G.

If you have a Major chord and an accidental brings the interval closer to each other you get a minor interval. So for instance C - E is a major interval. C# to E is minor as well as C- Eb. In both cases the interval is brought closer to each other by a semitone with the accidental.

If you have a minor chord that is brought closer by another semitone with the use of another accidental then you have a diminished chord. So in our previous example where we have a minor chord if we would bring them together one more semitone we would get C## to E or C - Ebb which would both be a Diminished third.

If we have a Major chord that is taken away from each other by an accidental then we have an augmented chord. So C - E is a Major chord and C - E# would be Augmented. Cb to E would also be augmented.

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