Intervals on the violin

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Intervals are the building stones of the scales. An interval can be defined as the distance between two tones.

Intervals in one octave C Major scale

%{ Intervals in one octave C major scale %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \cadenzaOn c1^"C"_\markup {"Unison"} c^"C" \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c^"C"_\markup {"Second"}  d^"D" \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c^"C"_\markup {"Third"}  e^"E" \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c^"C"_\markup {"Fourth"}  f^"F" \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c^"C"_\markup {"Fifth"}  g'^"G" \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,^"C"_\markup {"Sixth"}  a'^"A" \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,^"C"_\markup {"Seventh"}  b'^"B" \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,^"C"_\markup {"Octave"}  c'^"C'" \cadenzaOff \bar "|." \cadenzaOn| }

Names of intervals

  • Within one octave
    • unison (prime)
    • second
    • third
    • fourth
    • fifth
    • sixth
    • seventh
    • octave
  • Beyond one octave
    • ninth
    • tenth
    • eleventh
    • twelfth
    • thirteenth

The name of the interval can be determined by starting to count from the bottom note and counting all the notes up to the top note including the bottom and top note.

Intervals in the major and the natural minor scale

Size of intervals

  • minor
    • second (one semitone)
    • third (three semitones)
    • sixth (eight semitones)
    • seventh (ten semitones)
  • major
    • second (two semitones)
    • third (four semitones)
    • sixth (nine semitones)
    • seventh (eleven semitones)
  • perfect
    • prime (unison)
    • fourth (five semitones)
    • fifth (seven semitones)
    • octave (twelve semitones)
  • augmented
    • fourth (tritone) (six semitones)
    • ... and other intervals
  • diminished
    • fifth (six semitones)
    • ... and other intervals

The size of the interval can be determined by first determining the name of interval and then counting the number of semitones.

Examples of the major, minor, augmented and diminished intervals

%{ Examples of the major, minor, augmented and diminished intervals: Seconds %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Seconds" c1_\markup {"Major"} d \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c_\markup {"Augmented"}  dis \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c_\markup {"Minor"}  des \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c_\markup {"Diminished"}  deses | \cadenzaOff \bar "|."  }

%{ Examples of the major, minor, augmented and diminished intervals: Thirds %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Thirds" c1_\markup {"Major"} e \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c_\markup {"Augmented"}  eis \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c_\markup {"Minor"}  es \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c_\markup {"Diminished"}  eses | \cadenzaOff \bar "|."  }

%{ Examples of the major, minor, augmented and diminished intervals: Sixths %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Sixths" c1_\markup {"Major"} a' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c,_\markup {"Augmented"}  ais' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,_\markup {"Minor"}  as' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,_\markup {"Diminished"}  aeses' | \cadenzaOff \bar "|."  }

%{ Examples of the major, minor, augmented and diminished intervals: Sevenths %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Sevenths" c1_\markup {"Major"} b' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c,_\markup {"Augmented"}  bis' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,_\markup {"Minor"}  bes' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,_\markup {"Diminished"}  beses' | \cadenzaOff \bar "|."  }

Examples of the perfect, augmented and diminished intervals

%{ Examples of the perfect, augmented and diminished intervals: Fourths %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Fourths" c1_\markup {"Perfect"} f \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c_\markup {"Augmented"}  fis \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c_\markup {"Diminished"} fes | \cadenzaOff \bar "|."  }

%{ Examples of the perfect, augmented and diminished intervals: Fifths %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Fifths" c1_\markup {"Perfect"} g' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c,_\markup {"Augmented"}  gis' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,_\markup {"Diminished"} ges' | \cadenzaOff \bar "|."  }

%{ Examples of the perfect, augmented and diminished intervals: Octaves %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Octaves" c1_\markup {"Perfect"} c' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c,_\markup {"Augmented"}  cis' \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn| c,_\markup {"Diminished"} ces' | \cadenzaOff \bar "|."  }

Intervals can also be described as melodic (the tones are played one after another) or harmonic (the tones are played at the same time).

All diatonic intervals occurring in the major scale

Examples of the intervals

Within one octave starting on the first finger on the string

%{ Intervals within one octave starting on the first finger on the string %} \relative c' { \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \time 2/4 \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f e^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Minor second }} f^2 | e^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Major second }} fis^2 | e^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Minor third }} g^3 | e^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Major third }} gis^3 | e^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Perfect fourth }} a^4 | e^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Augmented fourth Tritone }} ais^4  \break | e^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Perfect fifth }} b'^1 | e,^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Minor sixth }} c'^2 | e,^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Major sixth }} cis'^2 | e,^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Minor seventh }} d'^3 | e,^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Major seventh }} dis'^3 | e,^1_\markup {\center-column \bold { Perfect octave }} e'^4 | \bar "|." }

Arranged by the interval size in the G major scale

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Minor seconds %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Minor seconds" b'1^1 c^2 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | fis^1 g^2 \cadenzaOff \bar "|."  }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Major seconds %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Major seconds" g'1^3 a^4 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | a^0 b^1  \cadenzaOff  \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c^2 d^3 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | d^3 e^4 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | e^0 fis^1 \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Minor thirds %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Minor thirds" a'1^0 c^2 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | b^1 d^3  \cadenzaOff  \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | e^0 g^2 \cadenzaOff \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Major thirds %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Major thirds" g'1^3 b^1 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c^2 e^4  \cadenzaOff  \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | d^3 fis^1 \cadenzaOff \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Perfect fourths %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Perfect fourths" g'1^3 c^2 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | a^0 d^3  \cadenzaOff  \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | b^1 e^4 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | d^3 g^2  \cadenzaOff  \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Augmented fourths/Tritone %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Augmented fourths/Tritone" c'1^2 fis^1 \cadenzaOff  \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Perfect fifths %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Perfect fifths" g'1^3 d'^3 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | a^0 e'^0  \cadenzaOff  \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | b^1 fis'^1 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | c^2 g'^2  \cadenzaOff  \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Minor sixths %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Minor sixths" b'1^1 g'^2 \cadenzaOff \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Major sixths %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Major sixths" g'1^3 e'^4 \cadenzaOff \bar "|" \cadenzaOn | a,^0 fis'^1  \cadenzaOff \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Minor sevenths %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Minor sevenths" a'1^0 g'^2 \cadenzaOff \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Major sevenths %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Major sevenths" g'1^3 fis'^1 \cadenzaOff \bar "|." }

%{ Examples of the intervals arranged by the interval size: G major: Perfect octave %} \relative c' { \key g \major \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"violin" \override Staff.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f  \cadenzaOn \tempo "Perfect octave" g'1^3 g'^2 \cadenzaOff \bar "|." }


Relationship between the intervals and the distance of the fingers on the fingerboard.

Names of intervals and the finger distances

  • minor
    • second (one semitone; the fingers are next to each other)
    • third (three semitones; two skipped tones between the fingers)
    • sixth (one semitone; the fingers are next to each other)
    • seventh (three semitones; two skipped tones between the fingers)
  • major
    • second (two semitones; one skipped tone between the fingers)
    • third (four semitones; three skipped tones between the fingers)
    • sixth (two semitones; one skipped tone between the fingers)
    • seventh (four semitones; three skipped tones between the fingers)
  • perfect
    • fourth (five semitones; four skipped tones between the fingers)
    • fifth (zero; the same finger holds both tones)
    • octave (five semitones; four skipped tones between the fingers)
  • augmented
    • fourth (tritone) (six semitones; five skipped tones between the fingers)