Monday, March 7, 2016

Intervals, the Fretboard and the Strings

You should know how intervals relate to the fretboard. Why? Because knowing how intervals relate to the fretboard is the secret to guitar mastery. And knowing intervals leads to music mastery.


Going from one tone to the next is called an interval. An interval expresses a relationship between successive tones.

Interval Names

There are only a few kinds of intervals: perfect, major, minor, augmented or diminshed. 

The Perfect Intervals 

Perfect 4th = 4th
Perfect 5th = 5th
Perfect 8th = 8th = Octave

The Major Intervals 

Major 2nd = 2nd
Major 3rd = 3rd
Major 6th = 6th
Major 7th = 7th

The Minor Intervals

minor 2nd = flatted 2nd = ♭2 = half 2
minor 3rd = flatted 3rd = ♭3 = half 3
minor 6th = flatted 6th = ♭6 = half 6
minor 7th = flatted 7th = ♭7 = half 7

The Tritone, aka the Devil's Interval 

Tritone = flatted fifth = ♭5 = augmented fourth = ♯4 = half 5

Be aware that some call the Tritone an Augmented 4th. Some call the Tritone a Diminished 5th.

Interval Names Abbreviated 

  • m for minor, M for Major, P for Perfect, TT for Tritone
  • P1 means the zero interval, also said as Perfect 1 or most often as Unison.
  • Augmented gets abbreviated as A. 
  • Diminished gets abbreviated as D.

Intervals and the Guitar

Playing from one fret to the next,  whether on the same string or on another string is how you play any interval.

So if you were to pluck an open low E (the E nearest your chin) and then pluck a depressed the third fret on open low E, the interval between those sounds would be a minor 3rd.

Intervals and Frets

The intervals between the open string tones and the frets are fixed. So, for example, a F on D will be a m3 from D, always. As well, a B♭ on G will be a m3 from G, always.

Fret 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Interval m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 TT P5 m6 M6 m7 M7 P8

1st fret = m2 = ♭2 = half 2
2nd fret = M2 = 2
3rd fret = m3 = ♭3 = half 3
4th fret = M3 = 3
5th fret = P4 = 4
6th fret = TT = ♭5 = half 5
7th fret = P5 = 5
8th fret = m6 = ♭6 = half 6
9th fret = M6 = 6
10th fret = m7 = ♭7 = half 7
11th fret = M7 = 7
12th fret = P8 = 8 = octave

Intervals and Chromatic Scales

If you know your chromatic scales, you can find tones on the fret board with ease.

For example, C is a m6 on E  because in the E chromatic scale, the C is found on the 8th fret 
E F G♭ G A♭ A B♭ B C D♭ D E♭ E
and the intervals of every chromatic scale as a diatonic scale:
m2 2 m3 3 4 TT 5 m6 6 m7 7 8

And so all of these are true:

C is a m6 on EC is a m3 on A
C is a m7 on D
C is a P4 on G
C is a m2 on B

In this picture, the minor tones have a bar above the number. The major tones are without a bar and the perfect tones have been circled.

If you know that C is a m3 on A, then you know you can find C on the 3rd fret on the A string. See?

With the Riptide Guitar method, the guitar strengthens your music theory knowledge and your music theory knowledge unlocks the secrets of the guitar for you.

Intervals and Inversion

On the fret board, the same count of frets, also known as distance, gets a different interval name depending on going up or going down.
m2 ↔ M7
M2 ↔ m7
m3 ↔ M6
M3 ↔ m6
P5 ↔ P4
TT ↔ TT 
P4 ↔ P5
m6 ↔ M3
M6 ↔ m3
m7 ↔  M2
M7 ↔ m2
Keep these pairs in mind: 2 & 7, 3 & 6, 4 & 5 and then swap the minor for major.

Intervals Between the Strings

Low pitch E (the E under your chin) to A = P4
A to D = P4
D to G = P4
G to B = M3.
B to high pitch E  (the E closest to the floor) = P4. 
Remember, intervals have inverse relationships. So playing the open strings from high pitch E to low E (from floor E to chin E):
E to B = P5
B to G = m6
G to D = P5
D to A = P5
A to E = P5
In the Riptide Guitar method, we call the E, A, D, G strings the P4 strings. We call the B string the M3 string.

Traveling on the Fret Board and Strings

Going up the neck (→) is the same as going toward the bridge. The pitch gets higher going up.

Going down the neck (←) is the same as going toward the headstock. The pitch gets lower going down.

Going down a string (↓) is the same as going toward the floor. The pitch gets higher.

Going up a string (↑) is the same as going toward the ceiling. The pitch gets lower.

Intervals on the Same String

These are the interval relationships from one fret to another on the same string within the practical limit of the stretch of your hand.

up 1 fret → m2 (e.g., A → A♯)
up 2 frets → M2 (e.g., A → B)
up 3 frets → m3 (e.g., A → C)
up 4 frets → M3 (e.g., A → D♯)
down 1 fret ← M7 (e.g., A♭ ← A)
down 2 frets ← m7   (e.g., G ← A)
down 3 frets ← M6   (e.g., G♭ ← A)
down 4 frets ← m6   (e.g., F ← A)

Intervals and Frets

These are the interval relationships from one fret to another on an adjacent string within the practical limit of the stretch of your hand.

↓ 1 string, ← 1 fret = M3 = 3
↓ 1 string, ← 2 frets = m3  = half 3
↓ 1 string, ← 3 frets = M2 = 2
↓ 1 string, ← 4 frets = m2 = half 2

↓ 1 string, → 1 fret = TT = half 5
↓ 1 string, → 2 frets = P5 = 5
↓ 1 string, → 3 frets = m6 = half 6
↓ 1 string, → 4 frets = M6 = 6