Introduction to Intervals and the Major Scale
Essentially an interval is the distance between two pitches, and is the foundation of all music.
Starting from the open string, or "open position" on the low E string, you can press on the first fret, and the distance between the two pitches is known as a "half-step" or "semi-tone" (think: the main motif of the "Jaws" theme). And if you press on the second fret from the open string, that's known as a "full-step" or "tone." This can be continued all the way down guitar neck, on to the 11th fret before you hit what's known as an "octave," at the 12 fret (an octave is simply the same note, but at a higher pitch frequency) - this is what's known as the "chromatic scale."
A scale is composed of a series of intervals, and the best way to begin is by learning what's known as the "major scale" as all intervalic descriptors are in reference to it--think of the major scale as a default setting when building scales and chords.
To further explain, the major scale can be simplified into the following formula:
W = Whole step
H = Half step
Remember singing do, re, me, fa, sol, la, ti, do during music class in elementary school? That's the major scale, and it is comprised of 7 notes. You may be asking: "but why does the example above possess 8 syllables?" That's simply because it begins on the first note (often called the "root" or "root note") and ends on the eighth note as the root's octave (remember: same note, higher pitch), and is typically how the scale is practiced on the guitar.
It is also important to note that scales can be played in any key, which is often determined by the lowest, or first note of the scale. But just starting out, it's best to just learn by picking one key and sticking to it; with the way that the strings are laid out on the guitar, I recommend G major.
But what is it that gives the major scale it's happy tonality? Great question! It all boils down to its third interval, better know as a "major third," as it is the third interval of the major scale.
More about the importance of thirds in a following post as we will discuss the basics of chords.
*There exist all kinds scales, each possessing a different character, but that's a topic for another time.
Here's a look at the G major scale:
G Major Scale EX 1 Tab:
*By practicing this scale, you will increase dexterity and develop your musical ear.