Inverting intervals

We have already looked at intervals and you now know that going from C up to G, for example, is called a “perfect fifth” interval.

But you can also go from C down to G. What is that interval called? Hint: it’s not a fifth. :)

As before, you can count the number of half-steps going down from C to G. Or you can take the elaborate method of counting the number of notes and adjusting for sharps and flats.

But there is another way: you can invert the interval from C-up-to-G to get the interval from C-down-to-G.

Here is the rule: inverted interval = 9 – interval

Fortunately, that is not too heavy on the mathematics. So C-down-to-G is: 9 – 5 = a 4th.

The 5th was perfect. Is our 4th also “perfect”?

A few more rules:

  • Perfect intervals remain perfect.
  • Major intervals become minor.
  • Minor intervals become major.
  • Augmented becomes diminished.
  • Diminished becomes augmented.

So inverting a perfect fifth indeed results in a perfect fourth, and vice versa.

Another example: the interval C up to A. This is a major sixth. If we invert this interval, we get 9 – 6 = 3 and major becomes minor. So C-down-to-A is a minor third.

To find an interval in the opposite direction, you can also reverse the notes. Instead of doing C-down-to-G you can consider this G-up-to-C, which is identical. Likewise, C-down-to-A is equivalent to the interval A-to-up-C.

Fun, fun, fun. :)

Read more articles on Piano Clues:

Basic Theory

Chords and Harmony

The Circle of Fifths

Arrangement, Improvisation and Composition

Reading Music and Sheet Music

How to Record Piano

Software and Virtual Instruments

Scales and Exercises

Digital Pianos

Links and Other Stuff


  1. Devendra Bakhshi says:

    It really good teaching techanic –


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