Music Theory: Intervals – How To Train Your Ears
In this post about the music theory of intervals, we will learn:
- what an interval is
- the 12 most important intervals
- how to recognise them by ear
According to Wikipedia, an interval is a difference in pitch between two sounds.
In musical theory, an interval is a distance between two notes and is best expressed in a number of tones ore semitones.
I elaborate in detail about tones and semitones in my blog post ► Piano Scales: The Major Scale
Explaining the Structure
Each interval described below comes with a symbol, a distance and a reference song. Those are handy for a couple of reasons.
The symbol of an interval comes in handy when we want to describe chords as a formula. When you know the formula of a chord you can play the chord in any key. Likewise, when you know your intervals really well it is easy to play the formula of a chord.
The distance of an interval will help new piano lovers to work out intervals by counting the number of keys. That is a good way, in the beginning, to get familiar with the keyboard and how to visually find the different intervals.
The reference song for any given interval is the best way by far to learn to recognize intervals by ear. If you can associate songs that you know with an interval, you will be able to sing any interval when given only the first or the second note. If you practice that regularly, you will be amazed at how quickly you can train your ears. Not before long you would be able to play a song just by hearing it on the radio!
I have given one reference song for every interval. Those are the songs that I know well and can remember easily. However, these songs may not be familiar to you (because you are younger than me) so you may want to find other songs that make sense to you. Here is an excellent resource to find other songs.
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The 12 Most Important Intervals
The Minor Second
|Reference Song||Theme from JAWS|
The Major Second
|Reference Song||Happy Birthday|
The Minor Third
|Reference Song||Ole ole ole soccer anthem|
The Major Third
|Reference Song||Oh When The Saints|
The Perfect Fourth
|Reference Song||Here Comes The Bride|
|Reference Song||The Simpsons theme song|
The Perfect Fifth
|Reference Song||Star Wars Main Theme|
The Minor Sixth
|Reference Song||Theme from Love Story|
The Major Sixth
|Reference Song||Jingle Bells|
The Minor Seventh
|Reference Song||The Winner Takes It All|
The Major Seventh
|Reference Song||Don’t Know Why|
|Reference Song||Somewhere Over the Rainbow|
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