Understanding The Twelve Steps Of Key Construction

Now we will learn about "key construction". Key construction in its most basic sense is simply to give a name to each one of the chromatics in any chosen key. Since there are twelve chromatics there will be twelve steps in key construction. These twelve steps must be memorized in order, and again there is no way around this. If you look closely at them, you will see a pattern in their order, and this makes them fairly easy to remember.

*note : if you do not know what an "interval" is, refer to the glossary for a definition of the term.

What we have here is a collection of intervals, each with their own name. Every chromatic note in the key we are in will have its own name as well as some type of designation as to what kind of note it is. You'll see that we have some major notes, some minor notes, two are called perfects, and we have one called diminished. The perfect 4th and the perfect 5th ARE major intervals.

The twelve intervals in key construction are as follows:

  • Root
  • Minor 2nd
  • Major 2nd
  • Minor 3rd
  • Major 3rd
  • Perfect 4th
  • Diminished 5th
  • Perfect 5th
  • Minor 6th
  • Major 6th
  • Minor 7th
  • Major 7th
  • Root (octave)

Once you have learned and memorized these twelve intervals in order we can look at what this means. The twelve steps of key construction will help us name any note in an octave that we may be talking about, and will show us where the Ionian mode (major scale) comes from.


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