So is this course entirely mute??? Shouldn't the difference between one octave and another say be illustrated as well as graphically by a SOUND notes being played, otherwise there is no factual link between what I read and what music actually IS...
i like this course its easy to comprehend
Am I supposed to be hearing these scales?
How to do that.?
Can someone please explain the staff notation I seem totally not understanding it.
This makes things much easier. Thanks Alison.
What part does mnemonic s play in intervals and octaves?
what is the difference between octaves and scales in music theory?
why do octaves and intervals sound the same?
– Introduction to Music Theory Part I
Where Octaves Come FromMusical notes, like all sounds, are made of sound waves. The sound waves that make musical notes are very evenly-spaced waves, and the qualities of these regular waves - for example how big they are or how far apart they are - affect the sound of the note. A note can be high or low, depending on how often (how frequently) one of its waves arrives at your ear. When scientists and engineers talk about how high or low a sound is, they talk about its frequency. The higher the frequency of a note, the higher it sounds. They can measure the frequency of notes, and like most measurements, these will be numbers, like "440 vibrations per second."
High and Low Frequencies
Figure 1: A sound that has a shorter wavelength has a higher frequency and a higher pitch.
But people have been making music and talking about music since long before we knew that sounds were waves with frequencies. So when musicians talk about how high or low a note sounds, they usually don't talk about frequency; they talk about the note's pitch. And instead of numbers, they give the notes names, like "C". (For example, musicians call the note with frequency "440 vibrations per second" an "A".)
But to see where octaves come from, let's talk about frequencies a little more. Imagine a few men are singing a song together. Nobody is singing harmony; they are all singing the same pitch - the same frequency - for each note.
Now some women join in the song. They can't sing where the men are singing; that's too low for their voices. Instead they sing notes that are exactly double the frequency that the men are singing. That means their note has exactly two waves for each one wave that the men's note has. These two frequencies fit so well together that it sounds like the women are singing the same notes as the men, in the same key. They are just singing them one octave higher. Any note that is twice the frequency of another note is one octave higher.
Notes that are one octave apart are so closely related to each other that musicians give them the same name. A note that is an octave higher or lower than a note named "C natural" will also be named "C natural". A note that is one (or more) octaves higher or lower than an "F sharp" will also be an "F sharp".
The notes in different octaves are so closely related that when musicians talk about a note, a "G" for example, it often doesn't matter which G they are talking about. We can talk about the "F sharp" in a G major scale without mentioning which octave the scale or the F sharp are in, because the scale is the same in every octave. Because of this, many discussions of music theory don't bother naming octaves. Informally, musicians often speak of "the B on the staff" or the "A above the staff", if it's clear which staff they're talking about.
But there are also two formal systems for naming the notes in a particular octave. Many musicians use Helmholtz notation. Others prefer scientific pitch notation, which simply labels the octaves with numbers, starting with C1 for the lowest C on a full-sized keyboard. Figure 3 shows the names of the octaves most commonly used in music.
Figure 2: The octaves are named from one C to the next higher C. For example, all the notes in between "one line c" and "two line c" are "one line" notes.
Naming Notes within a Particular Octave
The octave below contra can be labelled CCC or Co; higher octaves can be labelled with higher numbers or more lines. Octaves are named from one C to the next higher C. For example, all the notes between "great C" and "small C" are "great".
One-line c is also often called "middle C". No other notes are called "middle", only the C.
Naming Notes within a Particular Octave
Figure 3: Each note is considered to be in the same octave as the C below it.
Give the correct octave name for each note. (Make a note of it on paper.)
Exercise 1 - Solution
Dividing the Octave into Scales - Part I
The word "octave" comes from a Latin root meaning "eight". It seems an odd name for a frequency that is two times, not eight times, higher. The octave was named by musicians who were more interested in how octaves are divided into scales, than in how their frequencies are related. Octaves aren't the only notes that sound good together. The people in different musical traditions have different ideas about what notes they think sound best together. In the Western musical tradition - which includes most familiar music from Europe and the Americas - the octave is divided up into twelve equally spaced notes. If you play all twelve of these notes within one octave you are playing a chromatic scale. Other musical traditions - traditional Chinese music for example - have divided the octave differently and so they use different scales.
You may be thinking "OK, that's twelve notes; that still has nothing to do with the number eight", but out of those twelve notes, only seven are used in any particular major or minor scale. Add the first note of the next octave, so that you have that a "complete"-sounding scale ("do-re-mi-fa-so-la-it" and then "do" again), and you have the eight notes of the octave. These are the diatonic scales, and they are the basis of most Western music.
Dividing the Octave into Scales - Part II
Now take a look at the piano keyboard. Only seven letter names are used to name notes: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The eighth note would, of course, be the next A, beginning the next octave. To name the other notes, the notes on the black piano keys, you have to use a sharp or flat sign. (This is discussed more fully in the following page.)
Figure 4: The white keys are the natural notes. Black keys can only be named using sharps or flats. The pattern repeats at the eighth tone of a scale, the octave.
Whether it is a popular song, a classical symphony, or an old folk tune, most of the music that feels comfortable and familiar (to Western listeners) is based on either a major or minor scale. It is tonal music that mostly uses only seven of the notes within an octave: only one of the possible A's (A sharp, A natural, or A flat), one of the possible B's (B sharp, B natural, or B flat), and so on. The other notes in the chromatic scale are (usually) used sparingly to add interest or to (temporarily) change the key in the middle of the music.
In common notation, any note can be sharp, flat, or natural. A sharp symbol raises the pitch (of a natural note) by one half step; a flat symbol lowers it by one half step.
Why do we bother with these symbols? There are twelve pitches available within any octave. We could give each of those twelve pitches its own name (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, and L) and its own line or space on a staff. But that would actually be fairly inefficient, because most music is in a particular key. And music that is in a major or minor key will tend to use only seven of those twelve notes. So music is easier to read if it has only lines, spaces, and notes for the seven pitches it is (mostly) going to use, plus a way to write the occasional notes that are not in the key.
This is basically what common notation does. There are only seven note names (A, B, C, D, E, F, G), and each line or space on a staff will correspond with one of those note names. To get all twelve pitches using only the seven note names, we allow any of these notes to be sharp, flat, or natural. Look at the notes on a keyboard.
Figure 5: Seven of the twelve possible notes in each octave are "natural" notes.
Because most of the natural notes are two half steps apart, there are plenty of pitches that you can only get by naming them with either a flat or a sharp (on the keyboard, the "black key" notes). For example, the note in between D natural and E natural can be named either D sharp or E flat. These two names look very different on the staff, but they are going to sound exactly the same, since you play both of them by pressing the same black key on the piano.
Figure 6: D sharp and E flat look very different when written in common notation, but they sound exactly the same when played on a piano.
This is an example of enharmonic spelling. Two notes are enharmonic if they sound the same on a piano but are named and written differently.
The pitch of a note is how high or low it sounds. Musicians often find it useful to talk about how much higher or lower one note is than another. This distance between two pitches is called the interval between them. In Western music, the small interval from one note to the next closest note - higher or lower - is called a half step or semi-tone.
Figure 7: Three half-step intervals: between C and C sharp (or D flat); between E and F; and between G sharp (or A flat) and A.
Listen to the half-step intervals in Figure 7.
To hear them again, refresh the page.
The intervals in Figure 1 look different on a staff; sometimes they are on the same line, sometimes not. But it is clear at the keyboard that in each case there is no note in between them.
A scale that goes up or down by half steps, a chromatic scale, plays all the notes on both the white and black keys of a piano. It also plays all the notes easily available on most Western instruments. (A few instruments, like trombone and violin, can easily play pitches that aren't in the chromatic scale, but even they usually don't.)
One Octave Chromatic Scale
Figure 8: All intervals in a chromatic scale are half steps. The result is a scale that plays all the notes easily available on most instruments.
Listen to a chromatic scale.
To hear the scale again, refresh the page
Figure 9: Three whole step intervals: between C and D; between E and F sharp; and between G sharp and A sharp (or A flat and B flat).
Whole Tone Scale
A whole tone scale, a scale made only of whole steps, sounds very different from a chromatic scale.
Whole Tone Scale
Figure 10: All intervals in a whole tone scale are whole steps.
Listen to a whole tone scale.
To hear the scale again, refresh the page.
You can count any number of whole steps or half steps between notes; just remember to count all sharp or flat notes (the black keys on a keyboard) as well as all the natural notes (the white keys) that are in between.
The interval between C and the F above it is 5 half steps, or two and a half steps.
Figure 11: Going from C up to F takes five half steps
Exercises 2 and 3
Identify the intervals below in terms of half steps and whole steps. If you have trouble keeping track of the notes, use a piano keyboard, a written chromatic scale, or the chromatic fingerings for your instrument to count half steps.
Fill in the second note of the interval indicated in each measure.
The solutions are given on the following page.
Exercises 2 and 3 - Solutions
Interval -The Distance Between Pitches
The interval between two notes is the distance between the two pitches - in other words, how much higher or lower one note is than the other. This concept is so important that it is almost impossible to talk about scales, chords, harmonic progression, cadence, or dissonance without referring to intervals. So if you want to learn music theory, it would be a good idea to spend some time getting comfortable with the concepts below and practicing identifying intervals.
Scientists usually describe the distance between two pitches in terms of the difference between their frequencies. Musicians find it more useful to talk about the interval. Intervals can be described using half steps and whole steps. For example, you can say "B natural is a half step below C natural", or "E flat is a step and a half above C natural". But when we talk about larger intervals in the major/minor system, there is a more convenient and descriptive way to name them.
The first step in naming the interval is to find the distance between the notes as they are written on the staff. Count every line and every space in between the notes, as well as the lines or spaces that the notes are on. This gives you the number for the interval.
Example Counting Intervals
To find the interval, count the lines or spaces that the two notes are on as well as all the lines or spaces in between. The interval between B and D is a third. The interval between A and F is a sixth.
The simple intervals are one octave or smaller.
Listen to each interval as written in the figure above: prime, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, octave.
To hear the intervals again, refresh the page.
Compound intervals are larger than an octave.
Listen to the compound intervals in the figure above: ninth, tenth, eleventh.
Exercises 4 and 5
Name the intervals.
Write a note that will give the named interval.
The solutions are given on the following page.
Exercises 4 and 5 – Solutions
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