Descending Intervals

Until now we have concentrated on intervals where the second note is higher in pitch than the first. However, a melody is a succession of musical tones, one note after the other, forming a single entity.

The order of the melody is not restricted to an upward direction. A musical phrase moves upward and downwards, and so must its intervals.

When discussing intervals as being either ascending or descending, we are focusing on the direction of the interval within a melody.

What we must always remember is that intervals are counted from the lowest of the two notes within an interval , regardless of the direction.

The Interval of C to E Ascending and Descending

The Interval of C to E Ascending and Descending

Lets consider the example above, highlighting the ascending interval C - E and the descending interval E - C. This interval is a major 3rd regardless of direction as intervals are named from the lowest note .

C - E as an ascending interval is named with reference to the C major scale. E - C as a descending interval has C as its lowest note. Again, the C major scale is referenced when naming this interval. Remember, intervals are named from the lowest note .

It is important to note that the interval E - C descending is not the same as E - C ascending. Lets look at the interval E - C ascending to confirm this.

The Interval of E - C Ascending Compared with E - C Descending

The Interval of E - C Ascending Compared with E - C Descending

As can be seen in the example above, E - C ascending (C - E descending) is a minor 6th. As the rule dictates, we always reference the lowest note and in this example, it is E. When naming this interval, we reference the E major scale not the C major scale.

The E Major Scale

The E Major Scale Showing a Minor 6th