So far, you have learned all of the intervals in C position, from the minor second to the perfect fifth. It is now time to learn the remaining intervals on the piano keyboard. If you do not remember what intervals are, or the number of steps that make up each interval, you can go back to Chapter 4 to refresh your memory.
Major and Minor Sixths
Just as with the interval of a third, there are major and minor sixths. A major sixth is formed when two notes are four and one-half steps apart. In C position, play the C with your right hand thumb, and move your pinky up one step to play the A key. These two notes are a major sixth apart. Count the number of whole and half steps to confirm that they are four and one-half steps apart.
A minor sixth has exactly four whole steps between the two notes. From C position again play the C with your right hand thumb, and add the black A key (the key between G and A) with your pinky. This interval is the minor sixth, with the notes four whole steps apart.
Why doesn't the number of the interval match the number of steps?
The number of the interval is based on the degree of the diatonic scales containing seven notes, which are the most common scales in Western music. The distance between the two notes is measured using the chromatic scale, which has twelve half-steps. Therefore, the number of the interval will never match the number of steps.
Major and Minor Sevenths
A major seventh is formed when two notes are five and one-half steps apart. With your right hand thumb on middle C, use your pinky to play the B key. The interval formed is a major seventh. Count the number of steps between C and B and you should come up with five and one-half steps. Now lower your pinky one-half step to play the black B is exactly five whole steps, and the interval formed is a minor seventh. Another name for the minor seventh is the dominant seventh.
Just like the perfect fourth and perfect fifth, the octave is a perfect interval. There is no major or minor octave. The perfect octave is very easy to play. All you need to do is play any note on the keyboard, and then play the exact same letter note only higher. If you play middle C with your right hand thumb, and then use your pinky to play the next C key, you have an octave. The octave has six whole steps between the notes.
Figure 7-1 contains a list of all the major intervals from C to C on the piano keyboard. To create the minor interval, simply lower the top note one-half step. Remember: There are no minor fourths, fifths, or octaves.
FIGURE 7-1: Major and perfect intervals