# Intervals for music

I have a question concerning the intervals on a piano Between A flat and G, is it a Major 7th or Minor 7th? It seems both scales have the same note.

• Intervals come in music on whatever instrument is played, not just piano. But - they're often easier to see and understand looking at a keyboard.
– Tim
Sep 30, 2015 at 8:51

Intervals are not named for the major and minor scale, but the actual distance away from root note. Let's look at the typical intervals you would see with a root of A before we discuss what Ab would look like. Typically, when you talk about intervals with the root of A, you will have these notes:

```A - Bb - B - C - C# - D - (D#/Eb)* - E - F - F# - G - G# - A
```

As you can see, we have 12 distinct notes and 7 distinct letter names. The distance away from the root in combination of the letter name of the note gives us the interval we want. In this case, we would treat the letter names the following way:

```A - 1st/8th
B - 2nd
C - 3rd
D - 4th
E - 5th
F - 6th
G - 7th
```

Now as you can see, some of the groups that have two distinct notes for each letter which are B, C, F, and G. The smaller of these intervals will be minor and the bigger ones will be major. The other interval are perfect, but can also be raised to become augmented or lowered to be diminished with the exception of the 1st which can only be augmented.

Applying this to the notes we used above we get:

```A  - P1
Bb - m2
B  - M2
C  - m3
C# - M3
D  - P4
(D#/Eb)* - A4/d5
E  - P5
F  - m6
F# - M6
G  - m7
G# - M7
A  - P8
```

Now we'll turn our attention back to what Ab to G would be. It's the exact same logic, but all notes are lowered by one and you'll see:

```Ab  - P1
Bbb - m2
Bb  - M2
Cb  - m3
C   - M3
Db  - P4
(D/Ebb)* - A4/d5
Eb  - P5
Fb  - m6
F   - M6
Gb  - m7
G  - M7
Ab  - P8
```

So with this, you can easily see that Ab to G is a Major 7th.

* The D#/Eb is known as the tritone and can be considered either a 5th or a 4th depending on what you are doing.

A♭ to G is a major 7th: G would be the 7th step in A♭ major (the whole major scale being A♭ B♭ C D♭ E♭ F G). The minor 7th to A♭ would be G♭, with the A♭ minor scale, rarely used by the way, being A♭ B♭ C♭ D♭ E♭ F♭ G♭.

• Bear in mind there are 3 manifestations of minor scales - natural, harmonic and melodic, all with slight differences in notes 6 and 7.
– Tim
Sep 30, 2015 at 8:49

G is eleven semitones higher than A-flat, so it's a major seventh interval.

(See the 'Main intervals' table here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_(music) )

If A♭ is below G the interval A♭ to G is a major seventh. If G is below A♭, the interval G to A♭ is a minor second (or semitone).

If you are having trouble with intervals try lowering or raising both notes. Ab - G is the same interval as A - G# or more specific a Major Seventh. The Ab Major scale does have a G note in the scale.

• COuld down voters please explain there votes in a comment? Sep 30, 2015 at 17:01
• In what way is saying Ab Major has a G wrong the leading tone of Ab Major is G. Your link does not contradict me at all. It says"The A-flat major scale consists of the pitches A♭, B♭, C, D♭, E♭, F, and G. Its key signature has four flats." Sep 30, 2015 at 21:07
• I read it too fast. I thought you were trying to say it didn't.
– Dom
Sep 30, 2015 at 21:09
• No downvote, but why should lowering or raising both notes make it any easier?
– Tim
Sep 30, 2015 at 23:06
• @Tim - I think Neil is probably trying to give the octave as the reference point, and then calculate a small offset from there. Oct 1, 2015 at 5:43

You are confusing the terms major and minor slightly. The interval is indeed a major 7th, but maybe you feel that in the melodic and harmonic minors, also, that interval features. When the interval goes from (in your example) Ab to G, that is known as a major 7th. It's one semitone larger than a minor 7th. The minor 7th is actually found in the natural minor scale of Ab minor as a minor 7th, going from Ab to Gb.

• Major scales contain both major and minor 7th's, and so do harmonic, melodic, and natural minor scales. The lower note of the interval doesn't have to be the keynote of the scale. The terminology for the interval names is simply the Latin words "major" = large, "minor" = small.
– user19146
Sep 30, 2015 at 16:32
• @alephzero - thanks. I was trying to keep it simplistic as the OP referred to the maj and min scales of Ab specifically.
– Tim
Sep 30, 2015 at 16:38
• Yes the OP referred to scales, but the naming of intervals has nothing to do with scales. I can't think of any "scale" containing a diminished octave, or an augmented third, but those are both perfectly good descriptions of intervals which are use in real-world music notation.
– user19146
Sep 30, 2015 at 17:45
• @alephzero - there is some correlation - maj. 3 in maj. scale, min. 3 in min. scale.
– Tim
Sep 30, 2015 at 23:03
• @Tim the last time I counted, a major scale contained more minor thirds than major (4 and 3). That's not much of a correlation ;)
– user19146
Sep 30, 2015 at 23:34