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Intervals and the Music of Black Women

Updated: Sep 19


Being inclusive and/or diverse isn't just about what we see, but how we analyse and talk about music itself. Often, the music made by Black women is excluded when we learn some of the basics in music education. This includes a lack of examples when learning about intervals, chord progressions, and examples of melodic devices. Here is an (incomplete) list of intervals using music either written or performed by Black women across different styles. If you can come up with any more examples or find that anything is wrong, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Interval (Ascending)

Example

Where

Track (timestamped)

Notes (Concert pitch)

Min 2nd

Caught Up In The Rapture - Anita Baker

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

A - Bb

Maj 2nd

Umbrella - Rihanna

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

Db - Eb

Min 3rd

Silly Games - Janet Kay

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

A - C

Maj 3rd

I Wanna Be Down - Brandy

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

D - F#

Perfect 4th

Lost Kingdoms - Nubya Garcia

First 2 notes of the saxophone melody

E - A

Aug4th/b5th

I Put A Spell On You - Nina Simone

Notes 3 & 4 of the violin melody

F# - C

Perfect 5th

Diamonds Are Forever - Shirley Bassey

Notes 5 & 6 of the vocal melody ("Ev - Er")

B - F#

Min 6th

Sista - Rachelle Ferrell

"ble - out"

G - Eb

Maj 6th

Something - Snarky Puppy ft. Lalah Hathaway

"In - com"

C - A

Min 7th

Oh Yemanja (Mother's Prayer) - Tania Leon

First and highest 2 notes in the piano

C - Bb

Maj 7th

Misty - Ella Fitzgerald

"help - less"

Ab - G

Octave

are you worried about the rising cost of funerals? five simple songs: end of my days - Errollyn Wallen

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

D-D



Interval (Descending)

Example

Where

Track (timestamped)

Notes (Concert pitch)

Min 2nd

Golden - Jill Scott

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

Gb - F

Maj 2nd

Symphony No.1 in E minor III. Juba Dance - Florence Price

First 2 notes of the violin melody

E - D

Min 3rd

Tappin the Land Turtle - Camilla George

Notes 7 & 8 of the main melody

F - D

Maj 3rd

The Click Song - Miriam Makeba

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

F# - D

Perfect 4th

Land Of The Free - Esperanza Spalding

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

G - D

Aug 4th/b5th

Perfect 5th

Through The Fire - Chaka Khan

First 2 notes of the vocal melody

Eb - Ab

Min 6th

Umoja - Valerie Coleman

Notes 5 & 6 of the bassoon riff

B - D

Maj 6th

An meiner Seite - Joy Denalane

Notes 3 & 4 of the prechorus melody "Zei - ten"

​Ab - C

Min 7th

Watermelon Man - Big Mama Thornton

First 2 notes of harmonica melody

D - E

Maj 7th

Octave

Violet Nights - Cherise

"Hue - I"

D - D


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