1.5 Differences between notes, intervals, scales and chords

How do we know when a chord becomes a scale and vice versa if they are both two sides of the same coin? The short answer is we cannot. A chord that is spread out that has 5 notes can be seen both as a scale and as a chord depending on the context. So we have to generalise a bit a set some “rules” as to when different concepts become other concepts. A good limiting value is the number of notes a concept has.

A note is simply that. It contains 1 note. An interval has 2 notes and cannot contain any more notes. A simple chord is a triad and it has 3 notes. This lacks the 7th note so it is not considered as a “complete chord” so we just name it a triad.

A four note chord is a chord that has all the necessary information needed to determine the chord quality (contains the root, third, fifth and seventh). As the name suggest it contains 4 notes. Adding notes to that chord does not change the fundamental value of the chord and just adds nuance and “colour” to it. That is why a four note chord is considered as fundamentally as a “complete chord” and we name is simply as a chord. Anything containing 5 or more notes is then considered a scale. The most typical scales contain 5 (pentatonic),6 (hexatonic) ,7 (heptatonic) ,8 (octatonic) and 12 (chromatic) notes respectively. More on that in the next section. Below is a table that shows the same information.

Name:# Of Notes:

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