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6: Half-Steps

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Lesson 6: Half-Steps

This lesson teaches: the half-step, which is the basic unit of pitch distance. You'll need it to understand scales, chords, and melodies.

Before taking this lesson, you should know: the pitch names (Lesson 5: Sharps & Flats).

Pitch distance means: how far one pitch is above (or below) another pitch. We measure pitch distance in half-steps. A half-step is the distance between two pitches that are right next to each other, with no other pitch between them, including the sharps/flats ("black" pitches).

Important: Two pitches that are right next to each other on the piano often do not make a half-step. For example, the white piano keys A and B are "next to each other", but they don't make a half-step, because the black key A♯/B♭ is between them in pitch.

Here are some example half-steps:


A to B♭


B to C: Neighboring white keys do make a half-step if there's no black key between them.


C♯ to D

(By the way, "half-step" is the American term; in the U.K., a semitone is the same thing.)

When you're sure you understand half-steps, go on to Lesson 7: Whole-Steps.

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Lessons

1: Introduction
2: Practicing Songwriting
3: Pitch Names
4: Letters Game
5: Sharps & Flats
6: Half-Steps
7: Whole-Steps
8: Steps Game
9: Scales
10: Major Scale 1-2-3
11: Major 1-2-3 Games
12: Major Scale 1-5
13: Major 1-5 Games
14: Chords: Major Triads
15: Major Triad Games
16: Minor Triads
17: Minor Triad Games
18: Major Scale 1-8
19: Major Scale Games
20: Keys
21: Roman Numeral Chords
22: Scales Above 8
23: Diatonic Triads
24: Using Diatonics
25: Tonic Function
26: Subdominant & Dominant
27: Diatonic Function Analysis
28: Natural Minor Scale
29: Natural Minor Games
30: Minor Key Triads
31: 7th Chords
32: 7ths Games
33: Melody: Chord Tones
34: Treble Staff
35: Treble Staff Game
36: Time: Beats & Measures
37: Note Lengths
38: Tied & Dotted Notes
39: Rhythm: Rests
40: Non-Root-Bass Chords
41: Major Pentatonic Scale
42: Embellishing Tones
43: Melody Rhythm: Rolling Stone
44: Pitch & Frequency

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