Ear training/Intervals

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Lessons in Ear training
Perfect pitch

Ear Training: Intervals[edit]


Learning intervals is arguably the most fundamental and important part of ear training. Not just recognizing specific intervals but feeling where the melody goes next is crucial for dictation, triad and chord constuction, sight singing, and all that jazz.

An interval is simply the distance between two pitches. There are 12 unique pitches in Western music (not counting the octave), and therefore only 12 intervals (not counting invervals greater than an octave). The difficulty lies in that they each have several ways of being written, which seemingly creates many more. For example, a minor sixth is also an augmented fifth and so forth. But these are easy to do once the rules become apparent. For now (and in general) one only needs to focus on the main notation.

Here are the 12 intervals:
Interval Written as AKA Listen
Perfect Unison P1 Unison {{{2}}} source
Minor Second m2 min 2nd {{{2}}} source
Major Second M2 maj 2nd {{{2}}} source
Minor Third m3 min 3rd {{{2}}} source
Major Third M3 maj 3rd {{{2}}} source
Perfect Fourth P4 {{{2}}} source
Tritone TT aug 4, dim 5 {{{2}}} source
Perfect Fifth P5 {{{2}}} source
Minor Sixth m6 min 6th {{{2}}} source
Major Sixth M6 maj 6th {{{2}}} source
Minor Seventh m7 min 7 {{{2}}} source
Major 7th M7 maj 7 {{{2}}} source
Perfect Octave P8 8va {{{2}}} source


Recognizing By Ear[edit]

For recognizing Intervals, one can use a few different methods. Simply memorizing them (through drill and kill) may be effective for some, but for most of us, it is more useful to use association. You've probably heard these intervals all your life, and maybe you've attatched some innate feeling or emotion to some. Example - major 6ths sound sweet to some people, and minor 6ths may sound distraught, depressed, longing. Tritones (augmented 4th or diminished fifth) to some may remind some of the 8bit sound in video games when your ship crashed, to others it may sound horrible, especially when played simultaneously (in the middle ages tritones were connected with Satan for their dissonance), still others may recognize them as the note that leads into a perfect 5th, and remember the opening theme to "The Simpsons" or the song "Maria" from West Side Story ("THE - SIMP" and "MA-RI" are tritones. There are many examples in popular music both for intervals going up and going down.

Mnemonics for Intervals:
Interval Ascending Descending
Minor Second The "Jaws" Theme, As Time Goes By; The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the 1st 2 notes of the melody played over the title card of all 3 movies, the 1st 2 notes of the Mount Doom leitmotif from the same film trilogy First two notes of Für Elise, Chopin Prelude #18 (F Minor)
Major Second Ascending Major Scale, Strangers in the Night, Do Re Mi Three Blind Mice, Hot Cross Buns, Mary Had a Little Lamb
Minor Third Greensleeves, "O-CAN-ada", Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' ("Rawhide") "HEY-JUDE", Beatles song, first two notes of the emperor's theme from Star Wars
Major Third "KUM-BY-a", For He's a Jolly Good Fellow, When the Saints Go Marching In Goodnight Ladies, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, The 3rd quarter of the Westminster Quarters clock chime melody
Perfect Fourth "HERE-COMES" the bride, "SPEAK SOFT-ly love (Godfather Theme)" Bassline of Pachelbel's Canon, Kettledrum part in "2001: A Space Odyssey" theme
Tritone "MA-RI-a", "THE-SIMP" sons
Perfect Fifth "Twinkle-Twinkle" little star, Theme from Star Wars, Georgie Girl "Feelings", "Louie Louie" (First two notes of intro), Theme from Back to the Future
Minor Sixth Third and Fourth notes of the theme from "Love Story", "Trampled Rose" by Allison Krauss/Robert Plant, The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, The Lonely Man from The Incredible Hulk (a.k.a Sad walking away music) First two notes of the theme from "Love Story", The Entertainer by Scott Joplin
Major Sixth "N-B"C, NBC theme; "MY-BON-nie lies over the ocean", Chopin Prelude # 7, "IT-CAME" upon a midnight clear, "Two of Us" The Beatles (beginning guitar part) "NIGHT-TIME sharpens" from Phantom of the Opera
Minor Seventh - Blues-y scale (Dominant 7) 1 3 5 m7; First two notes of "Somewhere" from West Side Story; Euphonium motif in The Land Before Time(1) Intro (near 1:30s); "Can't Stop" Red Hot Chile Peppers -guitar riff.
Major Seventh "I'LL BE" gone ("Take On Me" A-ha); the 3rd last & 2nd last notes of "MA-RI-a" from West Side Story
Perfect Octave "SOME-WHERE" over the rainbow, Contrapunctus 9 From the Art of the Fugue

Recognizing Written Intervals[edit]

Written intervals can be recognized in several ways. One method is to count how many half steps are between 2 notes (e.g 7 half steps is a perfect fifth, 1 half step is a minor second). Another method is to compare the interval to the location on the scale of the key note. For example, C and A form a major 6th, as A is the 6th note on C major scale. D and F would form a minor third, as F is a half step below F#, which is the third note of the D major scale.




Learning Projects[edit]


Recognizing By Ear[edit]
Recognizing Written Intervals[edit]





GNU Solfege is a free music education program for learning intervals, chords, and scales by ear, among other things.

Musical Mind has free interval ear training exercises online, as well as other exercises for solfege, dictation and playing by ear.


http://musictheory.net/trainers/html/id84_en.html - Interval Trainer for recognizing written triads