Pop Music Theory


7: Half-Steps

Detailed Contents

Lesson 7: Half-Steps

To learn about chords and melodies, you will need to know scales; and to learn scales, you need to understand half-steps. You need to know the pitch names for this lesson; if you don't know them, then first go back to our pitch lessons: Lesson 4: Pitch Names, Lesson 5: Letters Game, and Lesson 6: Sharps & Flats.

We use half-steps to measure pitch distance: how far one pitch is above (or below) another pitch. The half-step is the smallest possible distance between two different named pitches; it means two pitches that are right next to each other in the "pitch ladder" (see Lesson 3: Pitch & Keyboard), without any other pitches (neither black nor white) between them.

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 "physically" next to each other on the piano, 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: Some neighboring white keys do make a half-step.

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 8: Whole-Steps.

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1: Introduction
2: Teaching Yourself
3: Pitch & Keyboard
4: Pitch Names
5: Letters Game
6: Sharps & Flats
7: Half-Steps
8: Whole-Steps
9: Steps Game
10: Scales
11: Major Scale 1-2-3
12: Major 1-2-3 Games
13: Major Scale 1-5
14: Major 1-5 Games
15: Chords: Major Triads
16: Major Triad Games
17: Minor Triads
18: Minor Triad Games
19: Major Scale 1-8
20: Major Scale Games
21: Scales Above 8
22: What Next
23: Keys
24: Roman Numeral Chords
25: Diatonic Triads
26: Using Diatonics
27: Treble Staff
28: Treble Staff Game
29: Pitch & Frequency

© 2018 Conrad Albrecht. All rights reserved.