Diatonic Intervals – Get Out Your Umbrellas!

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Isn’t it fun to have all these fancy musical terms to keep track of? Okay, no not really. 

Diatonic intervals are one of those complicated-sounding musical ideas with a very simple meaning.

It is basically a general term used to describe several smaller concepts.

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What are Diatonic Intervals?

A diatonic interval is an umbrella term used to describe any interval with the first note and the upper note being from the same major scale.

diatonic intervals
diatonic intervals

In a major scale, the diatonic intervals are defined as either being “perfect” or “major”.

The perfect intervals are unison, 4th, 5th and octave. The major intervals include the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th.

These two interval qualities will be found in all major scales. The major scale used in the examples listed above is the C Major scale.

Diatonic Intervals

P1 = Perfect Unison

M2 = Major 2nd

M3 = Major 3rd

P4 = Perfect 4th

P5 = Perfect 5th

M6 = Major 6th

M7 = Major 7th

P8 = Perfect 8th or Octave

To have a better understanding about intervals in general, please read “What is an Interval in Music?“. 

This should give you a better basis for what you are reading here.

Overall

A diatonic interval includes all of the intervals found within the same major scale. 

The two notes are measured by starting with the first note of the scale and moving to the other notes within the scale.

These intervals contain different sound qualities further labeling them as “major” or “perfect”.

Because we are talking about intervals found within the same major scale, you will want to remember to include the sharps or flats in your key signature as well.

It’s as simple as that!  It’s too bad we have to have weird and difficult names for relatively easy concepts like this.


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