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Music Theory - Identifying Intervals pt.2
Published July 11th, 2007. © Chris Juergensen/chrisjuergensen.com. All Rights Reserved.
 

In the second half of this two-part lesson on learning intervals, we will examine 2nds, 4ths and 6ths. If you haven't got 3rds, 5ths and 7th under your belt, you should go to pt.1 and work on those first. In pt.1 we learned how to identify 3rds, 5ths and 7th and this in turn allowed us to be able to identify triads and 7th chords as well. After this lesson, you should be able to identify and write out virtually any chord known to man.


Identifying 2nds and 9ths

Let's start with identifying 2nds. First let's identify them without any accidentals (sharps or flats). I'll give them to you in name and quality.

While you are at it, this is what a major 2nd and minor 2nd interval looks like on your fretboard:

M2
m2

Now I'm going to give you some time to practice identifying the 2nds. Simply write underneath each interval either M2 or m2. Remember a major interval made smaller by a half step becomes minor and vice versa. Imagine the first interval without the flat in front of the E note. If you had examined the 2nds in the above example, you would know that the interval E-F is a m2 interval and by lowering the E note by a half step, the interval is getting bigger by a half step making it a M2. Write in the intervals below each example or on a separate piece of paper:

Ex.1


Because 2nds more often than not show up in chords above the octave of the root, we will need to practice identifying them placed as such. When the 2nd is above the octave of the root, we identify the interval as a 9th rather than a 2nd. 9ths are sometimes augmented (showing up in chords like 7#9) so remember while identifying them that a major 9th raised a half step becomes augmented and thus notated with an A in front of it as in A9. Practice identifying the following 9ths:

Ex.2


Identifying 9th chords

Let's start identifying 9th chords. Here are the rules:

9th Chords
M9
M9
M9
M9
m9
A9
m9
A9
m9
A9
M9
m9
M7
m7
m7
m7
m7
m7
m7
m7
m7
m7
m7
m7
P5
P5
D5
P5
P5
P5
D5
D5
A5
A5
P5
P5
M3
m3
m3
M3
M3
M3
M3
M3
M3
M3
P4
P4
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
maj9
min9
min9b5
9
7b9
7#9
7(b5,b9)
7(b5,#9)
7(#5,b9)
7(#5,#9)
9sus
b9sus

@

Analyze the following 9th chords:

Ex.3


Identifying 4ths and 11ths

On to identifying 4ths. First let's identify them without any accidentals (sharps or flats). I'll give them to you in name and quality.

This is what a perfect 4th and augmented 4th interval look like on your fretboard (a diminished 4th looks and sounds the same as a major 3rd):

P4
A4


Remember a perfect interval made larger by a half step becomes augmented and made smaller by a half step becomes diminished. Identify the following 4th intervals:

Ex.4

Because 4ths often show up in chords above the octave of the root, we will need to practice identifying them placed as such. When the 4th is above the octave of the root, we identify the interval as a 11th rather than a 4th. 11ths are sometimes augmented (showing up in chords like 7#11) so remember while identifying them, that a perfect 4th raised a half step becomes augmented and thus notated with an A in front of it as in A11. Practice identifying the following 11ths:

Ex.5


Identifying 11th chords

Let's start identifying 11th chords. Here are the rules (intervals in parenthesis means that the interval is optional):

11th Chords
A11
P11
A11
(M9)
(M9)
(M9)
M7
m7
m7
P5
P5
P5
M3
m3
M3
1
1
1
maj7#11
min11
7#11

Analyze the following 11th chords but beware of sus4 chords (a perfect 4th will replace the major 3rd):

Ex.6


Identifying 6ths and 13ths

On to identifying 6ths. First let's identify them without any accidentals (sharps or flats). I'll give them to you in name and quality.

This is what a major 6th and minor 6th interval look like on your fretboard:

M6
m6

A major 6th interval made smaller by a half step becomes minor and vice versa. Identify the following 6th intervals:

Ex.7

Because 6ths often show up in chords above the octave of the root, we will need to practice identifying them placed as such. When the 6th is above the octave of the root, we identify the interval as a 13th rather than a 6th. Practice identifying the following 13ths:

Ex.8


Identifying 6th chords

Let's start identifying 6th chords. Here are the rules:

6th Chords
M6
M6
P5
P5
M3
m3
1
1
6
min6

Analyze the following 6th chords:

Ex.9


Identifying 13th chords

Next, identifying 13th chords. Here are the rules:

13th Chords
M13
M13
M13
M13
M13
M13
(A11)
(P11)
(A11)
(A11)
(A11)
-
(M9)
(M9)
(M9)
m9
A9
(P9)
7
m7
m7
m7
m7
m7
P5
P5
P5
P5
P5
P5
M3
m3
M3
M3
M3
P4
1
1
1
1
1
1
maj13
min13
13
13b9
13#9
13sus

Analyze the following 13th chords:

Ex.10


Identifying 69 and add9 chords

Let's start identifying 69 and add9 chords. Here are the rules:

69, add9 Chords
M9
M9
M9
M9
M9
-
M6
m7
-
M6
P5
P5
P5
P5
P5
M3
M3
m3
m3
m3
1
1
1
1
1
add9
69
min9
minadd9
min69

Analyze the following 69 and add9 chords:

Ex11


Answers:

@

Ex.1 M2 m2 M2 m2 m2 M2 M2 m2 M2 M2 m2 m2
Ex.2 m9 M9 A9 m9 A9 m9 m9 m9 M9 M9 m9 A9
Ex.3 Cmaj9 Emaj9 F9 Cmin9 Gmaj9 Amin9 Dmaj9 C9 Gmin9 A9 Bmin9b5 Dmin9
Ex.4 A4 P4 A4 D4 A4 A4 A4 A4 P4 A4 P4 D4
Ex.5 P11 A11 P11 A11 A11 A11 P11 A11 P11 A11 P11 A11
Ex.6 Cmaj7#11 G7#11 Dmin11 C9sus4 Fmaj7#11 A7#11 Amin11 Bb7#11 Emin11 *G9sus4
-
-
Ex.7 M6 M6 M6 m6 m6 m6 m6 m6 M6 M6 M6 m6
Ex.8 M13 M13 M13 M13 M13 m13 M13 M13 M13 M13 M13 M13
Ex.9 Cmin6 F6 A6 Dmin6 Eb6 B6 F6 C6 Gmin6 F6 E6 Fmin6
Ex.10 Cmaj13 Amin13 Fmaj13 G13 E13 Dmaj13 Fmin13 Eb13 Bbmaj13 Dmin13
-
-
Ex.11 Cmin69 Fminadd9 Emin69 Gminadd9 Dminadd9 Amin69 G69 *Fmaj13 Aminadd9 Bbadd9
-
-

* I tried to trick you here. Did it work? If you want to get into a more detailed explanation of chord construction formulas, go here.

@


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