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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Jackson

Musical Relationships - Minor, Major, Perfect, Augmented, and Diminished



Many different kinds of musical relationships exist in music. It’s hard to name all of them, but all of them have one of these types of words in it: major, minor, perfect, diminished, augmented, and they also have one of these numbers in it: Unison (like 1st), 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, Octave (like 8th).


One thing you should know in advance before proceeding from this point are these words: “semitone”, and “whole tone.” A semitone is the smallest distance between two notes in Western music (ex. between a white note like G, and the next black note up from G, which is either G♯ or A♭). A whole tone is equal to 2 semitones. A “♭” means one semitone down in pitch, while a ♯ means one semitone up in pitch.


The second thing you should know is a major scale (usually known as “do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do”). Throughout this blog, the specific example we will use of a major scale is the C major scale, with the notes in order: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C — all of the white notes on a piano. Each note has a number attached to it, depending on its place in the scale. The 1st “C” is 1, the “D” is 2, the “E” is 3, the “F” is 4, the “G” is 5, the “A” is 6, the “B” is 7, and the 2nd “C” is 8.


Let’s start with the words “perfect”, “augmented”, and “diminished.” A “perfect” note relationship can only be based upon the numbers “1”, “4”, “5”, or “8”, which in the C Major Scale is “C”, “F”, “G”, or the higher “C”. The musical relationship between the note C, and its exact same note would be called a “perfect unison.” The relationship between C and F going up would be called a “perfect 4th.” The relationship between C and G going up would be called a “perfect 5th.” And lastly, the musical relationship between the lower C and higher C would be called a “perfect octave.”


An “augmented” note relationship can only be one semitone above a “perfect 4th,” or a “perfect 5th.” Therefore, the musical relationship between C and F♯ going up would be called an “augmented 4th,” and the relationship between C and G♯ going up would be called an “augmented 5th.”


A “diminished” note relationship can only be one semitone below a “perfect 4th” or a “perfect 5th.” Therefore, the musical relationship between C and F. Although F and E are exactly the same note, even though they have different note names (which is known in music as enharmonics), it’s only when the note is known as F does it become a diminished 4th. Also, the relationship given as an example of a diminished 5th is between the notes C and Gb.


Now, let’s get onto major and minor relationships. Major relationships are all the other numbers on a major scale: 2, 3, 6, and 7, and minor relationships are all of those major relationships flattened (one semitone down) — 2, 3, 6, and 7. Here are the examples in the C major scale all going up. A major 2nd would be from C to D, a major 3rd would be from C to E, a major 6th would be from C to A, and a major 7th would be from C to B. A minor second would be from C to D, a minor 3rd would be from C to E, a minor 6th would be from C to A, and a minor 7th would be from C to B.


I hope this helps you guys who are trying to understand a little bit more about music theory, and the music relationships that exist. In up and coming articles, I will be discussing why these relationships are important to figuring out the notes of chords.

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