Understanding Melodies: Intervals: Half Steps and Whole Steps
There are two different kinds of step: the half step and the whole step. Understanding these intervals is extremely important to accurately create scales and chords.
The half step is the distance from one pitch to the next possible pitch. Half steps are very easy to see when we use the piano keyboard like the one introduced in the section on sound. When you point to any key, the name of that pitch will become visible. If you are unable to view the keyboard, download the latest version of Flash Player at www.Adobe.com.
Find the pitch G on the keyboard, then point at the next possible pitch to the right of G (in this case a black key). It shows us that a half step above G is either called G sharp or A flat.
To determine a half step below G, go through the same process but point to the pitch to left of G, which is called either G flat or F sharp. Remember that when one note has two different names, they are called enharmonic equivalents.
A whole step is defined as two half steps. Avoid the temptation to think of a whole step as one letter name to the next letter name. For example, look at the pitches E and F on the keyboard. There is no black key between them, so the interval between E and F is a half step. To determine the whole step above E, count two half steps to the right of that key. The whole step above E is F sharp.