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It's now time to extend our collection of intervals. The Perfect Fifth (or just the fifth) is equivalent to seven semitones. If you're wondering why this interval is called a fifth when there are seven semitones, it has to do with the fact that the fifth note of the major scale (among other scales) is seven semitones above the tonic.

The perfect fifth has a special relationship with the mandolin. If you cast your mind back to the Seventh Fret Rule, you might realise that notes on the same fret of adjacent strings are a fifth apart. In fact the mandolin (and, for that matter, violin, viola, cello, tenor banjo etc.) is often said to be tuned ‘in fifths’. Here are some examples of fifths on the mandolin.

We could almost get way with saying there's only one shape for the perfect fifth, but the following may be encountered occassionally:

The Major Third is the interval between the tonic and the third note of a major scale, i.e. four semitones. In the fist major third shape, both notes are on a single string:

The Seventh Fret Rule allows us to form a major third by moving up a string (7 ...) and down three frets (... - 3 = 4).

We now have enough knowledge to construct out first arpeggios. But first, lets find define what we mean by an arpeggio.

To do that, we must understand what a chord is. A chord is a group of pitch classes that are generally considered to sound pleasant when played simultaneously. Probably The most common basic chord is the Major triad. It consists of:

It's not always possible to play a chord such as this on the mandolin - usually we have to displace one or more of the notes by an octave if we wish the hear all the pitch-classes together. It is, however, possible to play the notes sequentially, and this is what we call an arpeggio. we consider the following perfect fifth shapes build on ‘D’...


... both of them can be converted into a major arpeggio by adding the note a major 3rd above the root (F♯):


Next: Arpeggios 2