Musical Intervals and Major versus Minor Chords

A chiropractor by profession, Dr. Manfred Alkhas is also an avid musician. A former student of classical piano and music theory, Dr. Manfred Alkhas plays piano as well as guitar and drums in his free time.

A musical chord is constructed using intervals on the scale, and the intervals selected determine the type of chord that the listener hears. All chords begin with a root note; the tone C stands out as an accessible example. A musician can build a major chord on C by playing the root as well as a major third and a minor third above that second note. The musician is then playing C, E, and G.

A major third, by definition, consists of four half-steps, while a minor third is three half-steps. On the piano, a half-step is the distance between one key to the next. By re-arranging the number of half steps between each interval in a chord, a musician can change the tone. If he or she plays a minor third on top of the C root and a major third above that, for example, the chord becomes minor. Minor chords are more melancholy in tone.


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