When playing in a key over a track with chords in that key, I notice that some notes sound better to rest on over the others. I think I remember reading about these intervals, and that they have names that correspond to their "strength".

Is there a name for these "strong intervals"? Is there a name for the "weak intervals"? Is there a pattern for their location?

And finally, What if I make a triad using all the strong intervals or weak intervals? Is there something to be said about that too?


You already mentioned the most important point in your comment to Tim's answer: you probably hear the notes of the pentatonic scale as the most consonant notes. Those notes usually sound good over all chords from the respective scale, whereas the remaining two notes can be problematic over certain chords. E.g. in C major the two notes that can be a bit problematic are the F and the B. For this reason, these two notes are not part of the C major pentatonic scale. The F is even more problematic than the B, and for this reason it is also called the avoid note of the C major scale. If you were to play an F as a target note (i.e. a note on which you rest for a while) over a C major triad, then it would clash with the major third of the chord (the E), hence "avoid note". Of course, it can always be used in a different way, e.g. as a passing note. With the pentatonic scale you don't have that problem, you don't need to think about the rhythmical placement of the notes, because they will almost always sound OK.

Note that in the relative minor key, i.e. in A (natural) minor, removing the same notes (the F and the B) also results in the A minor pentatonic scale. Again, the note F is the avoid note because it clashes with the fifth of the A minor chord (the E).

  • +1 I think it's precisely that sense of avoidance which the suspension effect plays with. – luser droog Apr 6 '15 at 1:22

Chord tones. The notes contained within a particular chord will generally sound best over that chord. E.g. C maj7 has C,E,G and B,, so those notes will fit best.Generally the 1,3,5 and sometimes an extra note or two from the key. Dm = D, F and A, 1,3 and 5. Yes, if you see two, three, four notes in a bar that constitute a chord, then play that chord under them. There may be other chords which also fit - depending a little on the bars before and after that specific one.

  • The pentatonic of the modes contains all of the "strong intervals" i think. Isn't that how they are derived? Does this clarify what I am looking for? – Paul Nikonowicz Apr 3 '15 at 16:51
  • I'm only aware of major and minor pents, and as Matt states, they contain the stronger, more easily usable notes, yes. Not so much 'stronger', as removing the more dissonant two from the full scale. – Tim Apr 4 '15 at 9:04

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