Are You Using Tenth Intervals On Your Left Hand?

In today’s lesson, we’ll be focusing on the left hand and how it can be enhanced using tenth intervals.

A vast majority of keyboard players are challenged with the left hand and are bereft of exactly what to play.

I used to be there, so I know how it feels and that’s why I wrote this lesson for anyone who is interested in beefing up his/her left hand.

Let’s get started by defining tenth intervals.

“What Are Tenth Intervals?”

An interval is a product of the distance between two notes and the term tenth is used to quantify an interval that encompasses ten scale degrees or notes.

Altogether, a tenth interval is formed by the relationship between two notes that are ten scale degrees apart from each other.

In the key of C major:

…a tenth interval from C:

…would encompass ten scale degrees from C to E:

So, C – E:

…is a tenth interval.

Tenth Vs Third Intervals

Tenth intervals are related to third intervals. Therefore, if you’re familiar with third intervals, then tenth intervals will be a walk-over for you.

Every tenth interval has an identical third interval. For example, the interval C-E (a tenth interval):

…has an identical third interval (which is also C-E):

“Alright…”

Now you’re familiar with what tenth intervals are, let’s proceed into learning tenth interval types.

Tenth Interval Types

There are four tenth interval types:

The major tenth interval

The minor tenth interval

The diminished tenth interval

The augmented tenth interval

However, we’re focusing on the top two on the list, which are the major tenth interval and the minor tenth interval.

The Major Tenth Interval – Defined

The major tenth interval is formed by the relationship between the first and tenth tone of the major scale. In the C major scale:

…the first and tenth tones are C and E (respectively):

Learning the major tenth interval in all twelve notes on the keyboard is of the greatest importance.

“Check Out All The Major Tenth Intervals On The Keyboard…”


C major tenth:

Db major tenth:

D major tenth:

Eb major tenth:

E major tenth:

F major tenth:

Gb major tenth:

G major tenth:

Ab major tenth:

A major tenth:

Bb major tenth:

B major tenth:

The Minor Tenth Interval – Explained

The minor tenth interval is formed by the relationship between the first and tenth tone of the minor scale.

For example, the first and tenth tones of the C minor scale:

…are C and Eb (respectively):

“Check Out All The Minor Tenth Intervals On The Keyboard…”

C minor tenth:

C# minor tenth:

D minor tenth:

D# minor tenth:

E minor tenth:

F minor tenth:

F# minor tenth:

G minor tenth:

G# minor tenth:

A minor tenth:

A# minor tenth:

B minor tenth:

Scale Degree Tenth Intervals For The Left Hand

Let’s quickly learn essential tenth intervals that can be applied to the left hand, using the key of C major (as a reference):

For chord 1:

…which is a major chord, the C major tenth interval:

…can be played on the left hand.

For chord 2:

…which is a minor chord, the D minor tenth interval:

…can be played on the left hand.

For chord 3:

…which is a minor chord, the E minor tenth interval:

…can be played on the left hand.

For chord 4:

…which is a major chord, the F major tenth interval:

…can be played on the left hand.

For chord 5:

…which is a dominant chord, the G major tenth interval:

…can be played on the left hand.

For chord 6:

…which is a minor chord, the A minor tenth interval:

…can be played on the left hand.

For chord 7:

…which is a diminished chord, the B minor tenth interval:

…can be played on the left hand.

“Altogether, Here Are The Tenth Intervals…”

Chord 1:

…major tenth interval.

Chord 2:

…minor tenth interval.

Chord 3:

…minor tenth interval.

Chord 4:

…major tenth interval.

Chord 5:

…major tenth interval.

Chord 6:

…minor tenth interval.

Chord 7:

…minor tenth interval.

Final Words

Now that you’re familiar with tenth intervals, I want to recommend that you practice playing them in all twelve keys.

Also experiment on playing a variety of right hand chords over these left hand tenth intervals.

That’s all for now!

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.