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Songs and melodies for intervals' recognition



1-1252513669kKIt smallInterval recognition is difficult for everyone, especially at the very beginning. Only few are able to promptly recognize a new interval. For those who cannot do this, much help is provided by songs beginning with different intervals. The point is to associate melodies with intervals, and thus memorize, name or be able to sing the latter. Beneath you can find several examples:




Song to sing “upwards”

Song to sing “downwards”

Perfect unison


Twinkle, twinkle little star – sound repetition.

 Minor second


The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night

Marlene Dietrich: Lili Marleen

Bob Marley: No Woman No Cry

any major scale downwards

 Major second


any major scale upwards,

Happy birthday


Suzanne Vega: Luka

Bobby McFerrin: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

 Minor third


Greensleeves: Alas, my love, you do me wrong

Simon and Garfunkel: The Sound of Silence (“Hello darkness, my old friend…”)

the national anthem of the USA

 Major third


Oh When the Saints

West Side Story (musical): I’m so pretty

 Perfect fourth


Elvis Presley: Love me tender

Eine kleine Nachtmusik

Theme from A-team



West Side Story (musical): Maria

Turn back oh man

 Perfect fifth


Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany’s): Moon River

Janis Joplin: Mercedes Benz

Bruce Springsteen: Secret Garden

 Minor sixth


Because (The Beatles)

Love story (theme from the movie)

 Major sixth


Dashing through the snow

Nobody knows the troubles I've seen 

 Minor seventh


West Side Story (musical): Somewhere

 Watermelon man

 Major seventh




 Perfect octave


Queen: I was born to love you

 Willow weep for me


The most important thing is to find songs you know and like. It is also worth to listen to your favourite songs and check what intervals they start with. It may be pretty surprising to find out that you are able to sing “Love me tender” starting at just any sound, but it is not that easy to sing a perfect fourth downwards even though it is just the same interval as the one Elvis’ evergreen piece starts with. This is exactly why finding the right melody is essential in interval recognition. If you want to do some exercises on interval singing and recognizing, please go to the INTERVALS section.

After some time, thanks to such exercises you will be able to recognize intervals without help of interval-associated melodies. If you are able to instantly associate an interval with a melody, it is already a great achievement. Now all you have to do is to replace song names with interval names and you can celebrate yet another victory. However, if it is still a problem for you, maybe it is worth to search for different songs that would be easier for you to associate with intervals.

Unfortunately sometimes it seems impossible to find a perfectly matching song – well, all-time hits rarely begin with a major seventh or a tritone, don’t they?

What can you do in such a case? The answer is: counterattack! A solution might be simply using a scale and counting sounds. For example, if you want to sing a perfect fourth, you loudly sing the first sound of a major scale, then you quietly sing the two following sounds, and then – loudly again – you sing the fourth sound. This is how a perfect fourth can be found. Still, if we want to “count” a major or minor seventh, we must sing through almost the whole scale. A shorter way to do it is to put a large interval together using smaller intervals. Although quicker, this method is quite difficult since it requires a thorough knowledge regarding intervals. A minor seventh can be put together from one major third and two minor thirds or from a perfect fifth and a minor third. You can also subtract (i.e. sing downwards) a major second from a perfect octave. It is very much like mathematics: every number can be obtained in multiple ways:

2+2+3 = 7





Intervals work similarly. Thus, you can use intervals you are familiar with to create an interval which, let us say so, is not necessarily on of your favorites. In the end, essential is the number of semitones in an interval. As for the rest – it’s no holds barred! ;-)