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Allen's Master Theory Help & Hints

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Lessons 45-46

Whole Steps and Half Steps

Distances between notes are also measured in whole steps and half-steps. This is particularly true when describing the structure of scales. The nomenclature of intervals was devised around the major scale, but it is awkward to use when describing other scales. Whole steps and half steps provide a much more reliable unit of measurement.

The Mother of All Theory Snags! - Many students get confused when calculating the distance between pitches in steps and half steps. This is because when you use invervals, you include both the top and bottom note in your counting of pitches. When whole steps and half steps, you never count the note that you're starting on.

For example, we can all agree that F# is one half-step (or semitone) above F. We count "F-F#." Two notes, but only one half-step. We also know that G is 2 half-steps above F. We count "F-F#-G." Starting on F, we ascend one half-step to F# and then one more half-step to G.

NOTE: I strongly recommend using the illustration of the piano keyboard in the shaded area of Lesson 45. If necessary, us it to figure out each question. On all questions, use it to check your answers.

Oh, and take your time. These ones are tricky.

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