# a little help...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by dubstyle5000, Jan 24, 2005.

1. ### dubstyle5000Guest

Jan 24, 2005
Milwaukee, WI
Hi everyone, I'm new to this site. I've been playing bass for a few years but just currently starting to cut my teeth on theory. I am hoping some of you guys can help me out with some things along the way.

Most recently I was doing some reading about modes and scales and the author of an article referred to a 3rd of a scale as minor. How can a note in a scale be minor? Certainly I understand what a flat third is, but a minor?

2. ### dlloydzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Apr 21, 2004
Scotland
The chord that is built on the third degree of the major scale is minor.

Take the C major scale. The triad built on E, the third note, is E G B... E minor.

3. ### dubstyle5000Guest

Jan 24, 2005
Milwaukee, WI
Okay, thanks. I think I understand. By triad you mean I, III, V, right?

Hope that makes sense...

4. ### BassManJim

Dec 16, 2004
Southern California
what your getting into is ......... well, scale teminology.

Each interval (arithmatical distance between pitches) consists of a specific number of half steps. The number of half steps in the interval determines the "quality" of the interval.

In your example of thirds, an interval of a third can have four different qualities. Major, Minor, Augmented, or Diminished.
A Major third consist of four half steps between pitches, a Minor third has three half steps between pitches. So you could effectively think of a Minor third as a flatted Major third, but for theoretical puprposes, that's not correct terminology. The terminology all has to do with distance between pitches.

The Diatonic Scale has, effectively, eight piches, or degrees. Each pitch has a specific name. 1= Tonic, 2= Supertonic, 3= Mediant, 4= Sub-Dominant, 5= Dominant, 6= Sub-mediant, 7= Leading tone, 8= Octave. The tonal separation between each pitch in the major scale, is whole tone, whole tone, half tone, whole tone, whole tone, whole tone, half tone.

Intevals 1, 4, 5, 8, can be either Perfect, Augmented, or Diminished in quality, based half steps. Intervals 2, 3, 6, 7, can be Major, Minor, Augmented or Dminished in quality, again based on half steps.

In some cases, two intervals can "sound" the same. For instance, an Augmeented third is enharmonically the same as a Perfect fourth. But if the note is intended to be a third it must be written as a third, and so on...

I have NEVER seen an Augmented third, second, sixth, or seventh in real application, however, I have heard of their existence in some obscure classical pieces.

Sorry if this is a bit long winded, I hope you got something from it......... Jim

5. ### dlloydzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Apr 21, 2004
Scotland
A triad is made up of three notes. A root, a third and a fifth.

Take a C major scale...

C D E F G A B C

A triad based on the C would have C as the root, E as the third and G as the fifth...

just count along the scale C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, B=7

1 (root), 3, 5 = C, E, G

Because it's based on the first degree of the major scale we call it the "I" chord (using roman numerals to avoid confusion with chord intervals)

The intervals in the I chord (both calculated from the root) are a major third and a perfect fifth. A major third is four semitones (frets on a guitar) and a perfect fifth is seven semitones.

This combination of intervals in a chord is called a "major triad". You could say it has a happy sound.

Look at the II chord

1, 3, 5 = D, F, A.

The intervals are different. The distance between the root (D) and the third (F) is only three semitones this time... we call that a "minor" third. The other interval is, again, a perfect fifth.

A minor third and a perfect fifth is called a minor triad and sounds sad.

To distinguish between minor and major chords in the roman numeric system we put major chords in upper case and minor chords in lower case.

All the triads constructed from the major scale are major or minor bar one. The vii (B in C major). It has a minor third and a diminished fifth (six frets) and makes a diminished triad. This has a slightly odd sound and is often avoided.

6. ### dubstyle5000Guest

Jan 24, 2005
Milwaukee, WI
Okay, I think I'm starting to understand this a lot better. That was a good one, thanks dlloyd.

I do have a question about the said quote. I'm not used to this term "semitones". I understand you're explaing some kind of distance between notes in the triad, but I'm used to hearing "steps" or "frets". Can you explain? I was also hoping you could expand on the term "perfect fifth". Is it perfect because it is a set number of semitones from the root?

I really appreciate your input on this. I hope you don't mind helping me out.

dubstyle

7. ### dubstyle5000Guest

Jan 24, 2005
Milwaukee, WI
Sorry, I see your definition of semitones...

8. ### dubstyle5000Guest

Jan 24, 2005
Milwaukee, WI
In fact, after reading your post a few times, it all makes sense to me now. Thanks so much for your help!

9. ### dlloydzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Apr 21, 2004
Scotland
I see, from a lower down post, that you figured this one out for yourself. "Semitone" is just a more correct term.

The easy answer is that it doesn't matter why it is called perfect. It's historical. Just remember that it means 7 frets.

Not at all. I learned the theory stuff by having people help me out... just passing it on.

10. ### dlloydzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Apr 21, 2004
Scotland
You hear augmented seconds all the time in blues based music. Play a minor pentatonic shape over a major chord of the same root. The "minor third" of the pentatonic scale is actually an augmented second in that instance.