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Hayden Tutorial, Chapter 9 (Intervals I)


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Chapter nine of Judy's harum scarum Hayden tutorial

---------------- Section One -----------------

Since not everyone has a lot of experience with music, I want to
introduce some new definitions -- words, ideas and concepts -- in one
compact chunk that you can refer to later, so you can gradually make
sense out of the ideas as I go over new tunes.

I'm putting musical things-to-do in each definition, so you can play
around and get the feel as well as the sound of each new concept into
your mind -- and if you forget them, you can always come back here and
refresh the actual feel and sound, by doing these simple little
musical things.

In the next group of chapters, I will be revisiting all this stuff in
the context of specific tunes, where I'll be working with finding
comfortable fingerings and simple left hand accompaniments.

I don't want to be making ANY assumptions about what anyone knows, so
this will give us common ground -- common concepts, common words -- to
work from.

I'm going to use "The First Leaves of Spring" and "The Last Snows of
Winter" from Chapters 1-5 as examples, so you might want to play
through them and get them under your fingers again.

Definition of "Interval"

Play any two notes together. That's an interval.

Intervals are for talking about how far notes are from one another --
a measure of distance.

Two notes played together, or near one another, are making some kind
of harmony, be it pleasant or unpleasant, and they are at some
interval (some distance, small or large) from one another.

Intervals are the building blocks of harmony.

Some sound nice together, some sound kind of funky, all of the
different intervals are used SOMEWHERE in some piece of music or

Play a bunch of different pairs of notes together, and get a sense for
the wide variety of sounds they make, like mixing up paint colors on a
palette, or using different foods and spices together when you're

The Most Useful Types of Interval

There is a small group of especially valuable intervals:


major second
minor second

major third
minor third


Definition of Unison and Octave

Unison is the same note played with itself: if you sing a G, and your
friend sings the same note, that's a unison.

If you sing a song with your friend, both of you singing the same
notes, then you are singing "at the unison" or "in unison".

If you have a high voice and your friend has a low voice, then you
might end up singing the same notes, but an "octave" apart.

Here's how those two intervals look on the Hayden.

On right side of the Hayden, play a C, and the C above it -- use your
button chart to find it. It's two rows up.

That's an octave.


Now, add another C -- play the low C on the left side.


That's an octave from the low C on the right, and two octaves from

the high C on the right.

This works the same for all the other notes: two notes with the same name are
always at an interval of an octave (except when they are a unison.)


There's one C unison on all Haydens (that I know of): it's the high C on the left,

played with the low C on the right.

Play a bunch of different octaves -- G notes; B notes; A notes; notice
the particular quality they have of sounding much more alike than
notes at intervals that aren't octaves or unisons.

Find the unisons on your instrument and play those. They sound even
more like each other.

Definition of "major second" and "major third"

Play C and D together, that's a "major second".

Play D and E together, that's also a "major second", just like
C and D.

Now play C and E together, that's a "major third".

Play those two different kinds of intervals a bunch of times, and
notice how very different they sound:

The "major second" is kind of funky-sounding, whether it's spelled CD
or DE.

The "major third" -- C E -- is, by comparison, quite pleasant.

Get familiar with how different they sound, and also how they feel on
the instrument: the major second is two adjacent buttons on the same

The major third is the next button over, on the same row.

Now play the first tune from this tutorial, "The First Leaves of
Spring" -- remember that I wanted you to notice that it is a "major"
sounding tune.

Notice the pattern of the intervals -- sometimes the next note is a
second away, sometimes a third.

Noodle around with the tune and the intervals until you feel like
you've got your head around them.


Making the distinction between "major" and "minor"

Now let's get out that other first tune, "The Last Snows of Winter" --
which is a "minor tune", and play it.

Play the first two notes together: D and E: that's a "major second"
(they are next to each other on the row.)

Now play the second two notes together: E and F.


That interval is the other flavor of second, the "minor second".

Play the two different intervals, and compare them.


Notice how the "minor second" feels, where the buttons are,

across the rows like that.

Ok, now play the first and third notes of "The Last Snows..."
together, the D and the F on the row above -- THAT is a "minor third"
-- it has its own special quality.

Compare that "minor third" with the "major third" from "The First Leaves..."

which is C and E.


Think about that difference, between major and minor: find things out
there in the world that help you picture "minor" v.s. "major" --
sad/happy, or spicy/sweet, or lugubrious/manic, or pensive/silly, or
whatever seems like good words and images to you.

It's the different flavors of intervals that give these two tunes
their distinctive sound: Major, v.s. Minor.

That's one of the engaging things about music: there's all the these
different kinds of intervals, some wildly different, as different as
jalapeno and vanilla, salt and sweet, bitter and savory -- while other
intervals are just a little bit different, like the difference between
sweet peppers and sweet apples, or jalapeno and cayenne pepper.

It helps, learning tunes, to have a way of referring to all these bits
and pieces that tunes are made out of -- not just the notes themselves,

but the relationships between the notes.


Ok, that is ENOUGH for one chapter!

Spend some time noodling around with these new concepts, and find them
in any other tunes you might be working on. The next chapter will be about
the fourths and the fifths, and some stuff about how they work to make

music more interesting.

And after that I'll get back to exploring tunes and figuring out good fingerings

and simple left hand accompaniments.

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