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Eileen
Theory question...if you can explain this in a way that I can grasp....you get "3"(count em!) "3" stripes on your pajamas...OR!...a cookie...you get to choose ! :-D

In the book "A complete idiots guide to music theory" the author states..."When measuring a scale by degrees (numbering the intervals)....you can see that the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes can be easily flattened." ....well, actually, no...I can't see that they can be easily flattened, or rather, I can't seem to understand why that is so and the author doesn't explain this. He goes on to say that when you flatten one of these notes you create a "minor" interval, which I do understand what he means by that, I just don't understand why these particular intervals or degrees are more easily flattened than the 4th, 5th and, well...the octave, but I do understand that you can't flatten or sharpen an octave, because then it wouldn't be the octave...right? .....oh gosh....I need an aspirin !! <:-P

Eileen
15 Responses
Posted: July 24, 2011
Last Comment: July 26, 2011
Replies


Posted: July 26, 2011
you also get to a point eventually, when you are more advanced in your playing that knowing the theory will help you in a way. It's probably not necessary but it does kind of help I would say , at least I find it does help me in my lessons with my teacher....no need to be a 'theory genius' but to know the ropes.....

or maybe you just naturally 'get the thirst' for it, like Eileen found out LOL


Eileen
Posted: July 25, 2011
I know how you feel Karen. I've been playing the violin and reading music for 8 years now and I never had any desire to even try to figure out how the music actually worked. I just wanted to know which finger went where and timing so I could play the music given to me. I learned what I needed to know to get by. Up till now I was so focused on just learning how to make a decent sound come out of the thing.

I'm now at a place where I've picked up a lot of technique, though it needs plenty of refining, (thanks so much to Beth and others who have helped me along the way!)... I do now have room in my brain to take this on....and yeah, it does make my head hurt sometimes !


KarenJ
Posted: July 25, 2011
You guys are making my head hurt. lol
ps. I'd go for the cookie!

Eileen
Posted: July 25, 2011
Well, yes you CAN diminish/augment anything....but, then you have to give it a name so you don't get lost ! x-)

I do appreciate the explanations/discussions ! They cement the learning !


Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: July 25, 2011

Correct about the thirds, Eileen. And you can diminish/augment anything, also an octave, also a prime. Of course the result is really dissonant but still goes by the name of octave or prime, just not a perfect one anymore.

I am really glad you got my point about being more kind to yourself. I firmly believe that you (and we all) deserve kindness!


Eileen
Posted: July 25, 2011
Ok Anne...lol...I'll take a stab at that...

the "small/minor" 3rd is 3 half steps from the "prime/tonic" or 1st note of the scale...the large/major 3rd is 4 half steps from the prime/tonic....right so far ?

I wouldn't think that you can diminish or augment the octave...because then it wouldn't be the octave, which is the same note as the original tone in the scale,only 8 steps up or down from that note...though, there's probably some tricky thing you can do to make it legal if you have/want to for some reason...lol.

I do understand the enharmonics part and that you only count the letter names, not the flats/sharps of the notes to get the degrees.

While chewing on all this, the light bulb did go on for a moment concerning the "perfects"....and it's all beginning to sink in. I'll feed it some more and maybe it'll begin to take root and become permanent !

Too funny about what you said about the author and just who he was calling the idiot !! That hadn't occurred to me X-D I really need to be kinder to myself and stop assuming that it's always ME ! LOL ! Anne, Thank you for going to all the trouble to write that out. It helped !


Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: July 25, 2011

From a practical point of view, it is sufficient to accept that prime, forth, fifth and octave are considered perfect, and if you flatten (resp. sharpen) them the result is called a diminished (resp. augmented) prime/forth/fifth/octave.

All other intervals have a small and a large variant, so a small third has three half-steps and a large third has four half-steps. If you flatten a large non-perfect interval, you get the corresponding small interval and vice versa for sharpening. You need to flatten a small non-perfect interval to get the diminished counterpart, and you need to sharpen a large non-perfect interval to get its augmented counterpart.

When counting the number of half-steps, some intervals have different names but are of equal size. So, a major third is the same as a diminished forth. This is called enharmonic conversion. On a keyboard, for example, F# and Gb are the same key. Measured from D, the interval D-F# is considered a major third, because three letter-named notes (D,E,F) are involved, but D-Gb is a diminished forth since four letter-named notes (D,E,F,G) are involved.

There is an interesting name for the augmented forth, which is, when measured by half-steps, identical to a diminished fifth. It is called a tritone (three full steps) or the devil's interval. In medieval music, the tritone was considered evil.

I am sure this is more than anybody ever wanted to read...


Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: July 25, 2011

Eileen, LOL, that's what you get when trying to learn from a self-proclaimed idiot. Or how is it meant, "Idiot's Guide"? Alternative explanation is he/she promises to confuse you until eventually you feel like an idiot?


Eileen
Posted: July 25, 2011
Thanks Beth, it sounds like that's all there is to it so I'll move on. :-)

Simon, thanks for the information on "diminished". I'll certainly remember what that is the next time I come across it.

Beth, I hope it's ok to ask theory questions here when this site's focus is really on technique...I'll keep them at a minimum ! ;-)


Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 25, 2011
That's probably right Simon. Eileen, I'm not truly qualified to answer your question, because I'm not 100% sure, and I wouldn't be able to explain it well. But it has to do with the oscillations per second for each pitch and their relationships. Like an octave is 2:1, and the fifth is 3:2. Those are such simple ratios, and maybe that's why it's easier to hear them "lock in" so to speak when we are tuning...?

Eileen
Posted: July 25, 2011
OK....what makes the 4ths and 5ths so "perfect" ? I know we tune by perfect 5ths, that each string from G to E are 5ths from each other and sound great when well tuned together....so too when you play G on D with C on A(4ths).....great sound ! Is it just the quality of the sound and that we seldom if ever alter them that they are called "perfects"...or is there something else I should know ? Thanks !


Posted: July 25, 2011
At the risk of confusing even more:

He could be trying to say that if you lower the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th by a half-step, the interval becomes minor.

However if you lower the 4th or 5th (the 'perfect' intervals) by a half-step they do not become minor, but are described instead as 'diminished'.

Eileen
Posted: July 25, 2011
Lol...thanks Beth, I feel much much better now ! <:-)

Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 24, 2011
It was a silly non-qualified statement. Those "idiot guide" book series are not always that good and leave you with more questions than before you started. I think what he meant was that we frequently lower (flatten) the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes of the scale to get minor scales and chords. We don't alter the 4th, 5th and octave so much. They are common to both major and minor. There are a few modes (ancient scales that we don't use much, maybe in jazz..) one having a raised 4th and one with a lowered 2nd.

Just skip that part. We'll save it for next July. ; )


Eileen
Posted: July 24, 2011
I'm concerned....because if the author doesn't think that this statement needs to be explained to a "complete" idiot........what does that make ME???? <:-o