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Conveying emotion with the perfect fourth interval.
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This old man, he played two. He playedknick knack on my shoe, so I
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asked him to please tie 'em in a bow but that mean man stomped my toe.
The fourth interval gets the hyperbolic classification of being perfect. From C to F is a perfect fourth (P4). Perhaps this is a good classification for this interval, because a P4 is perfect for just about any kind of emotion.
Composers use this interval to convey heroism, love, comedy, and even outer space in their melodies. I don’t have the room, nor the copyright clearance, to show you the extended use of P4’s in film music. So, how about a folk song?
Play and sing the opening notes of “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad” and you jostle back and forth on a P4 until the lyric “the” ruins the fun, as shown in Figure 10-8.
1 . *—
m a v trd n —« r* -? 1—
«5 -m' -m I've been work-in? on the rail - road, all the live long day.
You can also hear a P4 at your best friend’s wedding as the organist plays the attention-grabbing opening bars of “Here Comes the Bride,” shown in Figure 10-9. See, I told you that composers use the P4 to write love music.
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Here comes the bride. Here comes the bride.
Chapter 10: The Building Blocks of Harmony
Another perfect interval is the perfect fifth (P5). Why is this one so perfect? Practically any song ever written has at least one P5 interval somewhere in it. And, hey, it fits the hand nicely: from C to G is C position. (Chapter 7 explains C position.)
As you play the first two notes of Figure 10-10, you may see stars. Or you may picture Bill Murray at a cocktail bar piano on Saturday Night Live, singing his parody of the song “Star Wars.” Both “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and the theme to “Star Wars” begin with a P5.
A shining star, the perfect fifth interval.
Twin-kle, ta/in-kle, lit - tie star How I won-der what you are.
If you play a descending P5, from G to C, you may recognize the immortal classic “Feelings” and the theme from the Flintstones TV show. Speaking of classics and the Stone Age, Bach also used a P5 in the opening to his “Minuet,” shown in Figure 10-11. Okay, Bach didn’t live in the Stone Age, but it was a long time ago.
Figure 10-11: P5
A fifth -0---=
mterval (ff) ? • descending *) s* \-m m J " V-m —m m
6ths and 7ths
A major sixth (M6) interval forms the opening interval of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” whatever the heck those lyrics mean. No, really, what does that mean? Anyway, “My Bon-” is the M6 interval, from C to A. If you play only from C to A-flat, you get a minor sixth (m6); Figure 10-12 shows you both sixths.
The major seventh (M7) and minor seventh (m7) are the last numbered intervals in the scale. Not many songwriters think of the seventh intervals as very melodic. Perhaps this is why no well-known songs use the M7 or m7 in a memorable way.
Part IV: Living in Perfect Harmony
Bonnie's favorite intervals — the major and minor sixth intervals.
Bon - nie lies
0 - ver
Bon - nie just
In any case, it’s an important interval to know because the seventh interval helps form the third most popular chord in all music. (Chapter 12 tells you more about chords.) You can get to know these two interval sizes and judge for yourself how melodic they are after you play the notes in Figure 10-13.
You may think that the last interval in the scale would be called an eighth. You’re partly right. For some reason, interval namers (another short-lived profession) grew tired of using numbers after the seventh and tried to liven things up with a fancy word. After about an hour of flipping through a thesaurus, they came up with the prefix octa, which means eight. (Think of the eight-legged octopus or the eight-sided octagon.) Bingo! An eighth interval is called an octave (P8). The interval-namers were so proud of their accomplishment that they classified it as a perfect interval.
Figure 10-14 shows you a perfect octave, an interval made memorable by Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz. In the opening lyrics, from “some” to “where” is an octave leap. Another easy way to remember this interval is that both notes have the same name.
Figure 10-14: Octave (P8)
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___________________________Chapter 10: The Building Blocks of Harmony
Building Harmony With Intervals
In the preceding section, you play each interval as single notes to see and hear the distance between each. But that’s not harmony. You have to play the intervals together to get harmony.
Playing two notes together
Figure 10-15 shows each interval — perfect, major, and minor — from 2nds to an octave. Try playing the notes of each interval at the same time. Notice that the notes in each interval are stacked. When two notes appear stacked, or attached to the same stem, this means to play them at the same time. You know, in harmony.