Enforcer - Intervals, Intervals On Modes And Chords, Interval based construction SI Lesson

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About the Author

About Author (Such a nice feeling to talk about himself in 3rd person mode user posted image)


My name's Can Karakuzulu, I am a 26 years old guy from Istanbul, Turkey and I've been playing electric guitar for nine beautiful years. I partly share Kris' story about being recently serious about electric guitar and I assure you GMC is the best place to do this. I am one of the chosen intermediate mentors from our MTP program.


Intervals, Modes and Chords

Welcome to my 4th S.I Lesson, and my 3r Video Lesson!

In this lesson we'll talk about Intervals and their relation with major modes and chords. Then we have part for building some seventh and extended chords. All this subjects can be found on Andrew's Theory Board, you can go there and dig deeper...

Part 1: Intervals

We all know that the building block of the tone and intervals in western music is a semitone. Semitone is the note difference between 2 adjacent frets on a same string. Two semitones make a tone. And 12 semitones make an octave. There is a relation between the fractions of the octave that we call the notes and the root, which is our starting point.

Semi tones in relation with root:

Value NAME

0 -> Unison
1 -> Minor 2nd
2 -> Major 2nd, (Diminished 3rd)
3 -> Minor 3rd, (Augmented 2nd)
4 -> Major 3rd, (Diminished 4th)
5 -> Perfect 4th, (Augmented 3th)
6 -> Diminished 5th, (Augmented 4th)
7 -> Perfect 5th, (Diminished 6th)
8 -> Minor 6th, (Augmented 5th)
9 -> Major 6th, (Diminished 7th)
10 -> Minor 7th, (Augmented 6th)
11 -> Major 7th
12 -> Perfect Octave

So what does all that mean? I believe you need to hear the intervals rather than look at their names:

Here you see how every interval above sounds like with root. Some of them are hard to play using these positions, but anyway its a good finger stretching exercise:



How they sound in my opinion:

Unison: Perfect, majestic!
Minor 2nd: Uneasy, willing to return to unison
Major 2nd: Uneasy and dark, willing to rise to minor
Minor 3rd: Sad but in harmony, mature
Major 3rd: Happy, in harmony, childish, glorious
Perfect 4: Dark, inspiring unity and willing to rise to perfect fifth
Diminished 5: Tense, in pain, begging to rise to perfect fifth Perfect 5: Complete and strong. Strong emotions but indecisive. Angry, doesnt know if it's happy or sad
Augmented 5: Full of Mistery and undecisive
minor 6: Sad but incomplete, in need of a perfect 5 or octave
major 6: Happy but incomplete, in need of a perfect 5 or octave
minor 7: Mature and sad, feels like lived a tough life
major 7: Mature and happy but desires to rise to octave
octave: Very strong, decisive, strong headed, stubborn.

But on a scale, for example C Major:

0-> Unison
2-> Major 2nd
4-> Major 3rd
5-> Perfect 4th
7-> Perfect 5th
9-> Major 6th
11-> Major 7th
12-> Perfect Octave

Modes and Intervals

Ok, now lets check our major modes in a intervallic aproach:

We already know that Major Scale (Ionian Mode) consists of:

Unison, Major 2nd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th, Perfect 5th, Major 6th, Major 7th, Perfect Octave
It is to say: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 (in classical music notation)

Well I find it easier to write down as 2 for tones and 1 for semitones so

Ionian becomes:

2 2 1 2 2 2 1


Dorian is 2 1 2 2 2 1 2
So, all we have to do here is to sum the intervals to get their names:

1st interval value is 2
2nd interval value is 2+1 = 3
3rd interval value is 2+1+2 = 5
4th interval value is 2+1+2+2 = 7
5th interval value is 2+1+2+2+2 = 9
6th interval value is 2+1+2+2+2+1 = 10
7th interval value is 2+1+2+2+2+1+2 = 12

lets remember name of our intervals:

0 -> Unison
1 -> Minor 2nd
2 -> Major 2nd
3 -> Minor 3rd
4 -> Major 3rd
5 -> Perfect 4th
6 -> Diminished 5th
7 -> Perfect 5th
8 -> Minor 6th
9 -> Major 6th
10 -> Minor 7th
11 -> Major 7th
12 -> Perfect Octave

ok than we can write dorian as

2 => Major 2nd,
3 => Minor 3rd,
5 => Perfect 4th,
7 => Perfect 5th,
9 => Major 6th,
10 => Minor 7th
12 => Octave

In a classic music we would note that as:

Dorian: 1,2,b3,4,5,6,b7

So it is quite easy as you see. So we may say that:


1 2 2 2 1 2 2

1st interval value is 1 Minor 2nd
2nd interval value is 1+2 = 3 Minor 3nd
3rd interval value is 1+2+2 = 5 Perfect 4th
4th interval value is 1+2+2+2 = 7 Perfect 5th
5th interval value is 1+2+2+2+1 = 8 Minor 6th
6th interval value is 1+2+2+2+1+2 = 10 Minor 7th
7th interval value is 2+1+2+2+2+1+2 = 12

Classical Notation: 1,b2,b3,4,5,b6,b7


2 2 2 1 2 2 1

1st interval value is 2 Major 2nd
2nd interval value is 2+2 = 4 Major 3nd
3rd interval value is 2+2+2 = 6 Augmented 4th
4th interval value is 2+2+2+1 = 7 Perfect 5th
5th interval value is 2+2+2+1+2 = 9 Major 6th
6th interval value is 2+2+2+1+2+2 = 11 Major 7th
7th interval value is 2+2+2+1+2+2+1 = 12

C.N.: 1,2,3,#4,5,6,7


2 2 1 2 2 1 2

1st interval value is 2 Major 2nd
2nd interval value is 2+2 = 4 Major 3nd
3rd interval value is 2+2+1 = 5 Perfect 4th
4th interval value is 2+2+1+2 = 7 Perfect 5th
5th interval value is 2+2+1+2+2 = 9 Major 6th
6th interval value is 2+2+1+2+2+1 = 10 Minor 7th
7th interval value is 2+2+1+2+2+1+2 = 12

C.N. :1,2,3,4,5,6,b7


2 1 2 2 1 2 2

1st interval value is 2 Major 2nd
2nd interval value is 2+1 = 3 Minor 3nd
3rd interval value is 2+1+2 = 5 Perfect 4th
4th interval value is 2+1+2+2 = 7 Perfect 5th
5th interval value is 2+1+2+2+1 = 8 Minor 6th
6th interval value is 2+1+2+2+1+2 = 10 Minor 7th
7th interval value is 2+1+2+2+1+2+2 = 12

C.N. :1,2,b3,4,5,b6,b7


1 2 2 1 2 2 2

1st interval value is 1 Minor 2nd
2nd interval value is 1+2 = 3 Minor 3nd
3rd interval value is 1+2+2 = 5 Perfect 4th
4th interval value is 1+2+2+1 = 6 Diminished 5th
5th interval value is 1+2+2+1+2 = 8 Minor 6th
6th interval value is 1+2+2+1+2+2 = 10 Minor 7th
7th interval value is 1+2+2+1+2+2+2 = 12

C.N. :1,b2,b3,4,b5,b6,b7

Wow, this was quite a work! now we have this list a la classical notation:

Ionian (Major) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Dorian 1, 2,b3, 4, 5, 6,b7
Phrygian 1,b2,b3, 4, 5,b6,b7
Lydian 1, 2, 3,#4, 5, 6, 7
Mixolydian 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,b7
Aeolian 1, 2,b3, 4, 5,b6,b7
Locrian 1,b2,b3, 4,b5,b6,b7

Please note that only diminished 5 is at Locrian, we take that mode as a "special case". We can classify the other 6 as follows:


An easy way to remember is to compare them to Ionian:An easy way to remember is to compare them to Ionian:
Ionian IS the Major Scale
Lydian is nearly same as the Major scale except the augmented 4th
Mixolydian is nearly same as the Major scale except the dominant 7 (minor 7th)



Lets compare them to natural minor:
Dorian is nearly same as the Natural Minor except that major 6th
Phrygian is nearly same as the Natural Minor except that minor 2nd
Aeolian is the Natural Minor Scale

Locrian is outside this classification because of that nasty diminished 5th, and this diminished 5th is the only difference between Locrian and Phrygian Modes.

Part 2: Chords

Power chords are the most basic chord structure we'll ever find. Theoretically they arent chords, as definitionwise, a chord has to have at least three different notes, it means they has to be triads. There is a great S.I lesson about it made by Velvet Roger about TRIADS, I strongly recommend you to check it out: HERE

So, if we return to our subject, powerchords, are actually two note played together, so they are intervals. Not a random interval too, the 2nd note has to be the perfect 5th of the root note. So a basic powerchord from A is:


They are noted as X5, X being the root note. In the example video we see A5, A Powerchord


There is a great S.I lesson about it made by Velvet Roger about TRIADS, I strongly recommend you to check it out: HERE

So Triads can be formed the following way, we take a powerchord and add it a major or minor 3rd. As Roger said previously, you can remove the 3rd and add a 2nd or 4th to make it suspended chord. Or you can remove the 5th and add it a diminished 5th to form a diminished triad or add a augmented 5th(a minor 6th) to make a augmented triad.

How can you play this on guitar? Well If you should know it if you read Roger's lesson

Well, I will show you a basic way to do it anyway, lets look at our fretboard. I take the note A as root:

First, we take our powerchord shape:
In this case, with our root A, the fifth will be E. For the ease of understanding I will write down the A major scale:


(We remember how to do this right? We start from A and follow this intervals: 2 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 1)


Then add a 3rd. I want to form a A major so I take a maj3rd in this case its C#. I could take 4th fret in A string (marked with a x) but if I take this I'll loose my 5th. So I will go on, and take the octave of the 3rd (marked as C#)


So this is a triad. But we have a problem. If we hybrid pick this, everything is fine, but if we strum it, we'll have to mute the strings D, B and E because a triad chord may not contain any other notes than the root, the 3rd and the 5th. As this is not always a good option, we will find other instances of these 3 notes, and add fret them on D,B and E strings.

Lets look at the notes around this position. At D string, 2nd fret is E but its far away, 7th fret is A, so we may use it. At B string, we have a E on 5th fret, and its near so we use it. And finally on high E string 5th fret is A so we use it. Our

Final layout is:


How do we play this? there is 6 note to be played but we only have 4 fingers available for the job. Yeah right, we use a barré, we cover all the 5th fret with our index then fret the E-A-C# on the strings A - D and G respectively. You see, we even have one finger free now user posted image

If we wanted to form a A minor, we would play C instead of C#, which is the Minor 3rd.

c)7th chords

Generally speaking, people who learn basic major/minor chords are known to develop a phobia towards the seventh chords. This is really absurd because now as you may started to foresee it, the notion of 7th chords is just a basic chord with a 7th addition.

We have two kinds of 7th available, major7 and minor7. So technically speaking we may have 4 kinds of major or minor chords like:

Major triad + Major 7 => Xmaj7
Major triad + Minor 7 => X7 (called dominant7)
Minor triad + Major 7 => Xminmaj7 (not very common)
Minor triad + Minor 7 => Xm7

X here, is the root of the chord but keep in mind that you may actually have something like this: Csus2maj7.. This is not a horror movie leading role star, It actually means we dropped the 3rd of a Cmaj or min, added a 2nd then added a maj7. You see.

It's easy when you know about intervals

Ok, back to 7th chords, how can we actually build one of them? We'll take the exemple of A Major triad from the previous example:


I marked the fret where we position our barré with "o"s. Lets rewrite our A major scale:


The 7th here is a major 7. I want to show you something here. Notice the interval between the 7th and the octave. This is a semi-tone. There is only a semi-tone between the octave and the 7th when that 7th is a major 7th. Therefore, when there is a tone between the 7th and the octave, that 7th is a minor 7th. We'll use that rule for our advantage now:

In our A major position we actually have 3 A notes. One as the root, One on the 7th fret on D string, and one on the 5th fret on high E string. So if we flatten this A on the D string, we are going to have a Amaj7 chord:


And if we want a A7 (A dominant7) chord all we have to do is take that fretted note out:


We can add another G if we want here, at B string 8th fret:


Other than that, we may have Amin7 and Aminmaj7,

Lets take our A Major example:


Turn it to a minor chord by making the 3rd flat, Maj 3rd is C# so Min3rd will be C:


Add the minor7. It was G, remember? (one tone down the octave)


There you go, that gives us Am7. its even easier then the basic triad
Or add the major 7th, It was G#. (semi tone down the octave)


When you play this you'll see it has a very weird sound. That's why its not very common.

d)9th,11th and 13th chords

Well once you understand the drill, it goes always the same way. You just stack the 9th and the 11th over the 7th chord. There is nothing to fear here, 9th is the 2nd past the octave and 11th is the 4th past the octave. So all we have to do add them in our chord. Unfortunately on six stringed guitar you wont be able to play full versions of 13th chords as they need 7 notes strummed together. But we may extract one other note to play a more compact version of it. Here we go:

A Major Scale:


There are several possibilities for a 9th here, the most common is A9, which has a major 3rd, dominant7 (minor7) and a 9th.

That means we have to use:

Our root which is A,
Major 3rd which is C#
Perfect fifth which is E
Minor 7th which is G
and finally 9th which is B

So actually we are going to add a B that is higher than the octave A to the chord A7, let's summon that example:


We have to find a B spot beyond the 7th fret on D string. Well that is possible in two versions either we fret the 8th fret on D string and loose the 7th, or fret the 7th fret on high E string. Both are applicable, but remember removing a dominant 7th changes the flavor of the chord so we have to put it somewhere, there is a possible spot at 8th fret on B string so we will use that one. Oh god! We are out of fingers So actually we have only one possible selection with barré in that place...

One little warning:




This is A9. Yeah that chord is not for beginners user posted image

For a Am9 all we need to do is remove that finger at C# to play a C.


Better and better user posted image

For a Amaj79 (it is not a maj(79) user posted image it's a maj7 with 9th user posted image

We need to keep C# and G#, as they are one on top of other actually this can be played by making a 2 strings mini barré with the middle finger.


-Man, in the name of Lord, why are you keeping that barré in there? Can't you see that lowest strings are E and B and they can be played just fine?

I am doing this because, you can shift that position anywhere on the fretboard, so they are universal user posted image

11th chords have the same principe with 9th chords. You just stack the 11th over the 9th chord. It previous chord was a A9 for example, when you stack the 11th which is D in this case, you got A11. if it's a Amaj79, you get a Amaj711, and on a Am9 it gives Am11.

Well try this:


This is E11, yeah we cheated a little, I fretted D before the actual octave, but that will do because C# is not near the 4th, that wont cause a problem. But if they were in the same octave they would interfere with each other, thus will sound weird.

And finally 13th chords... These cannot be played at full version in 6 stringed guitar, as they require 7 notes to ring simultaniously... Well conventionnaly, we omit the 5th, and we place the 13th on the gap.

We have our Scale right here:

A Major Scale:


So for A13 you can play:


Make sure you check out Andy's Theory Board as there you can find lots of different fingering and positions, Make sure you use Roger's CAGED Triads too as they can be perfect bases to build more developped chords.

Still one thing is uncertain isn't it? Why did we used 1-3-5-7-9-11-13 ? But not anything else?

Well that is because of intervals. Building Triads was actually superposing 2 kinds of thirds as for a major chord interval between 1-3-5 are:

interval interval

And for the minor triad

interval interval

Lets take a Dominant 7th chord:

1-maj3rd-3-min3rd-5-min3rd-7 interval interval interval

Minor 13th chord:


13th chord:


maj713 chord:


Yeah, guessed right, we are actually building all this using minor or major 3rd blocks

I want to point out one last thing, Lets look back to Amaj713


this includes,

A major,
C# minor,
E major,
G# minor,
B major,


So we can accomplish that by saying this:

minor 3rd + major 3rd makes a minor chord.
major 3rd + minor 3rd makes a major chord.
minor 3rd + minor 3rd makes a diminished chord.
major 3rd + major 3rd makes a augmented chord.


Thank you for enduring such a massive lesson. Hope it is clear and easy and please don't hesitate to ask questions. And please if you find any error on this feel free to correct me, I'll gladly do the appopriate changes...

(By the way why does a minmaj7 sound odd?)

Probably because it is minor 3rd + major 3rd + major 3rd that makes a minor 3rd + augmented chord(which tends to maj6), which conflicts with min 3rd.)