Pop Music Theory

Lessons

1-7 (Intro & Pitch) -
6: Half-Steps & Whole-Steps
8-18 (Major Scale) +
19-29 (Chord Progressions) +
30-34 (Hook Chords) +
35-41 (Written Notes) +
42-50 (Song Chorus) +

Detailed Contents

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Lesson 6: Half-Steps & Whole-Steps

This lesson teaches: half-steps and whole-steps, the basic units of pitch distance. You'll need them to understand scales, chords, and melodies.

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

Half-Steps


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.)

Whole-Steps


A whole-step is a pitch distance equal to two half-steps. For example:
  • Consider the 3 pitches C-C♯-D.
  • C to C♯ is a half-step; C♯ to D is also a half-step.
  • So, C to D is a whole-step.

Here are some more example whole-steps:


A to B


B♭ to C


C♯ to D♯

Next:
Practice half-steps and whole-steps in Lesson 7: Steps Game.

Lessons

1-7 (Intro & Pitch) -
6: Half-Steps & Whole-Steps
8-18 (Major Scale) +
19-29 (Chord Progressions) +
30-34 (Hook Chords) +
35-41 (Written Notes) +
42-50 (Song Chorus) +

Detailed Contents

Get Future Lessons


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