In Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 we studied ascending intervals.
Now we get to descending intervals...

In Part 4 we talk about :

  • descending minor 2nd (same sound as augmented unison)
  • descending major 2nd
  • descending minor 3rd (same sound as augmented second)

If you have troubles understanding interval names, you can check this post.

Descending minor 2nd

A descending minor 2nd is made of 1 semi-tone1
Every descending minor 2nd share a common sound.

It can be C-B or A-G♯ or B♭-A ...

Note that B-B♭ is made of a 1 semi-tones too. But the name of this interval is augmented unison. Since minor 2nd and augmented unison have the same width (1 semi-tone), they share the same characteristic sound. So what applies to one also applies to the other.

Here are some examples :

You'll easily recognise this sound.

Listen to the first two notes of the Jurassic Park Theme (at 0:02) :

You can use this fantastic John Williams composition to remember the sound of a descending minor 2nd. (or descending augmented unisson)

Descending major 2nd

A major 2nd is made of 2 semi-tones. (ie : a whole-tone)

Every descending major 2nd share a common sound.

It can be C-B♭ or D♯-C♯ or A♭-G♭...

Here are some examples of descending major 2nds :

Listen carefully to the first two notes of Howard Shore's Lord of the Ring (King of the Golden Hall) :

This is the sound of a descending major 2nd.

Descending minor 3rd

A minor 3rd has a width of 3 semi-tones.
Every descending minor 3rd share a common sound.

It can be C-A or D-B or A-F♯ or E♭-C among others...

Here are some examples of minor 3rds :

Listen carefully to the first two notes of the song "The girl from Ipanema" (The personel are Stan Getz - tenor saxophone, João Gilberto - guitar, vocals, Astrud Gilberto -- vocals, Antonio Carlos Jobim - piano, Sebastião Neto -- bass, and Milton Banana - drums.). The humming begins by Eb-C which is a descending minor third. Note that when the singer sings the first lyrics at 0:07, the first two note are Eb-C too :

That's it for today ! See you in Part 5 where we continue descending intervals, with a whole new set of songs/compositions !

See you soon,
Sebastien

  1. If you're not familiar with the terminology "semi-tone", check this. If you're not familiar with intervals, check that