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Chapter 4:
How Scales and Intervals REALLY Work

4.4 Emotional Effects of Intervals

Table 21 below lists some reported emotional effects of various types of intervals, and specific intervals.

     Keep in mind that the emotional effects of the intervals listed below, like the emotional effects of other musical elements, vary with the musical context—the succession of preceding intervals, the prevailing chords and chord changes, rhythmic variables, instrumental tone colors, and so forth.

TABLE 21  Emotional Effects of Intervals

Interval or Interval Type

Associated Emotions

Consonant intervals

Pleasantness, generally positive emotional valence; not as strong or active as dissonant intervals

Dissonant intervals

Generally negative emotional valence, strength, activity

Major intervals

Brightness, strength

Minor Intervals

Dullness, weakness

Large intervals


Small intervals


Minor second

Melancholy, displeasure, anguish, darkness

Major second

Pleasurable longing, displeasure (neutral as a passing tone; see Chapter 9)

Minor third

Tragedy, sadness

Major third

Joy, happiness, brightness

Perfect fourth

Buoyancy, pathos (neutral as a passing tone; see Chapter 9)

Tritone (diabolus in musica)

Violence, danger, tension, devilishness (of course!)

Perfect fifth

Cheerfulness, stability

Minor sixth

Anguish, sadness

Major sixth

Winsomeness, pleasurable longing (neutral as a passing tone; see Chapter 9)

Dominant seventh

Irresolution, displeasure, mournfulness

Major seventh

Aspiration, displeasure, violent longing


Lightheartedness (i.e., sudden melodic leap)

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You are reading the FREE SAMPLE Chapters 1 through 6 of the acclaimed 12-Chapter book, How Music REALLY Works!, 2nd Edition. Here's what's in Chapters 7 through 12. 


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 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
2. Pop Music

 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3. Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 How to Create
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6. Chords/

   7. Pulse/Meter/

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/


 Making a
 Living In Music
 12. Business of






































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