Chromatic or Real Intervals
Chromatic Intervals is an expansion on diatonic intervals so in order to understand chromatic intervals you must understand diatonic intervals first (see Diatonic Intervals). Before we can talk about chromatic intervals in depth we first have to define the interval types. There are 5 different types of intervals, pay attention to these because these interval types will determine chord quality later on in harmony:
Review the chromatic scale and that will give you a hint as to what follows.
Pitch classes are a set of notes with the flat, natural and sharp version of each note. There are 7 pitch classes. A, B, C, D, E, F, G. As we discussed in the accidental section each note can have a flat – a half step lower or one key to the left on the piano keyboard, a natural – all the white keys or non-altered note, or a sharp – a half step higher or one key to the right on the piano keyboard. Understanding pitch classes will help you understand the interval chart that follows.
Figure: C pitch Class
Figure: D pitch Class
Figure: E pitch Class
Figure: F pitch Class
Figure: G pitch Class
Figure: A pitch Class
Figure: B pitch Class
Each one pitch class has 1 flat, 1 natural and 1 sharp. When you overlap these pitch classes you get the following chart. The enharmonic equivalents are shown vertically.
Figure: Pitch Classes and their enharmonic equivalents
Notice that C# and Db are the same note but spelled different. This is an important distinction when naming intervals so you have to be careful in chromatic intervals. The distance between the notes of chromatic intervals is important so we must refer to a term called quality or type as what we stated earlier under the heading of chord type.
So here is an helpful hint in finding a chromatic interval.
To find the quality or type of a chromatic interval you must count in number of ½ steps. There are 12 half steps in a chromatic scale hence there are 12 interval types. The chart above proves this by starting on C and counting the number of intervals (count the red ovals). Remember the vertical intervals are enharmonic equivalents (meaning they sound the same but have different spellings).
There are two important distinctions that you must understand before we can proceed to the following chart.
The following chart is a guide to chromatic intervals:
Chromatic Intervals Chart (click on link)
Worksheet LSN – 49-52
Lesson Video – Chromatic/Real Intervals