In diatonic set theory a specific interval is the clockwise distance between pitch classes on the chromatic circle (interval class), in other words the number of half steps between notes. The largest specific interval is one less than the number of “chromatic” pitches. In twelve tone equal temperament the largest specific interval is 11.

In Western music theory, the most common naming scheme for intervals describes two properties of the interval: the quality (perfect, major, minor, augmented, diminished) and number (unison, second, third, etc.). Examples include the minor third or perfect fifth. These names describe not only the difference in semitones between the upper and lower notes, but also how the interval is spelled.

Understanding Specific Intervals

Specific Intervals and the Mandolin

As every fretted instrument, one fret of the mandolin corresponds to a hald step. Therefore, the easist way to play specific intervals on the mandolin is to play both notes at the same string-pair, and consult the below table for the number of frets (half steps) the two notes should be apart.

Intervals articles in the Mandolin Theory series