Dansm's Guitar Chord Theory
Intervals
After you know the basics about keys, you need to learn a little about intervals before you start thinking about major and minor chords. Intervals are the musical distance between notes, measured by half and whole steps. Below are shown the 12 intervals important in guitar chord theory. An "m" represents a minor interval, an "M" represents a major interval, a "P" represents a perfect interval, and a "d" represents a diminished interval.

Jump to: | m2 | M2 | m3 | M3 | P4 | d5 | P5 | m6 | M6 | m7 | M7 | P8 |

Minor Second (m2)
The minor second is the smallest interval in popular music: it is a half step.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a minor second from A looks like this:


one half step


Major Second (M2 or 2)
The major second consists of two half steps.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a major second from A looks like this:


two half steps


Minor Third (m3)
The minor third consists of three half steps.
The minor third is the root-third interval in minor and diminished chords.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a minor third from A looks like this:


three half steps


Major Third (M3 or 3)
The major third consists of four half steps.
The major third is the root-third interval in major chords.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a major third from A looks like this:


four half steps


Perfect Fourth (P4 or 4)
The perfect fourth, the second most important interval in music, consists of five half steps.
Most of your guitar strings are tuned in intervals of a perfect fourth (which is why you tune at the fifth fret).
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a perfect fourth from A looks like this:


five half steps


Diminished Fifth (d5)
The diminished fifth, the most unstable interval in music, consists of six half steps.
The root-fifth interval in diminished chords is a diminished fifth.
This interval consists of exactly half an octave.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a diminished fifth from A looks like this:


six half steps


Perfect Fifth (P5 or 5)
The perfect fifth, the most important interval in music, consists of seven half steps.
The root-fifth interval in both major and minor chords is a perfect fifth.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a perfect fifth from A looks like this:


seven half steps


Minor Sixth (m6)
The minor sixth consists of eight half steps.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a minor sixth from A looks like this:


eight half steps


Major Sixth (M6 or 6)
The major sixth consists of nine half steps.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a major sixth from A looks like this:


nine half steps


Minor Seventh (m7)
The minor seventh consists of ten half steps.
The minor seventh is the outside interval in a regular seventh chord (like D7 or Am7).
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a minor seventh from A looks like this:


ten half steps


Major Seventh (M7 or 7)
The major seventh consists of eleven half steps.
The major seventh is the outside interval in a major seventh chord (like Gmaj7).
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a major seventh from A looks like this:


eleven half steps


Perfect Octave (P8 or 8)
The perfect octave consists of twelve half steps.
On our chromatic pitch diagram, a perfect octave from A looks like this:


twelve half steps



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1997 Daniel E. Smith.