When listening to different intervals the terms 'consonant' and 'dissonant' are often used. These terms describe the tonal character of different intervals. For example the interval between the 1st and 5th key of a scale is considered to be very 'consonant'. In contrast the interval between the 1st and the minor second key (C and C#) is considered to be very 'dissonant'. Generally keys that are closer to each other when played together are more dissonant and keys that are further away from each other are more consonant. However this is only true to a point...
The TritoneSomewhere in the middle of consonance and dissonance lies a 'floaty' interval (between C and F#) which is known as the 'Tritone'. The sinister nature of this interval resulted in it being banned from use in religious music in the dark ages, earning it the name 'diabolus in musica'. This interval can be used for great effect in dark, eerie, ambient, non-tonal music (try it out!).
The best way to become familiar with intervals is to experiment with them. Try constructing your own chords with 2 or more notes and you will soon find key combinations that you like the sound of and would certainly use in the creation of your own music.
Next Week... more on chords
Written by Steve Heath of Wave Alchemy