The Tritone Interval

The Tritone Interval is arguably the darkest interval in music. In latin, the interval is called Diabolus in Musica, translating into “The Devil in Music”.

In this lesson, we take a look at three examples that are a great starting point for beginners.

The first two diagrams illustrate the intervallic distance between Root and b5 (flat 5th) and b5 to Octave, which is the Root note in a higher position. Notice the distance is the same whether we start from Root note and proceed to b5 or work backwards from the Octave to b5. Observing this interval on one string makes clear that there are three whole tones (steps) between each note, hence the term, Tritone.

In the second diagram, we can observe the interval across multiple strings. Repeating this into higher octaves gives us a diagonal pattern which, if played a certain way can evoke the imagery of Arachnids.

In Example 1, we start by playing the low E string. This is called the root note and serves as the foundational point by which we interpret the other notes in the riff. You’ll find the tritone in bar 2 as a single note and bar 4 as a powerchord.

The Tritone

Example 2 switches between power chords and notes. Bar 1 starts on the E5 power chord before changing to Bb5. There are many riffs that make use of this interplay. The second and fourth bars are simple melodies that give variety to the overall sound of things.

The Tritone

For our final example, we delve a little into Black Metal territory using arpeggiations through an E minor chord and Bb power chord. Letting some of these notes ring produces a dark sound with conflict; a hallmark of the Black Metal genre.

The Tritone