Ear Training: Intervals


Learning Goal: To recognize the unique sound/feeling of the following intervals: minor 2nd, major 2nd, minor 3rd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, tritone, perfect 5th, minor 6th, major 6th, minor 7th, major 7, octave…

Download the Zip file, unzip, create a playlist, set to random play, and do ear training on the run!

Each mp3 follows the same sequence:

  1. Two random notes are played, one after the other.
  2. Identify the interval.
  3. After a short pause, the correct answer is given.

Listen to an example…

As you do these, keep the following in mind:

  • Unlike absolute pitch, relative pitch does not require any special talent. Relative pitch awareness is a learnable skill, available to anyone who studies and practices the right way.
  • Successful ear training is not the fruit of trying to hear something. It is about being receptive to the sound/feeling you are experiencing and then associating that sound/feeling with something you already know–in this case the names of the intervals!

A Critically Important Word of Caution…
There are two commonly-prescribed methods for learning to recognize various intervals.

  • Method #1: Sing up a musical scale until you reach the interval of interest. For example, to learn the sound of a perfect fifth, sing the first five notes (Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So) of the major scale. The first and last notes form a perfect fifth.
  • Method #2: Sing the first notes of a familiar tune that starts with the interval of interest. For example, to learn the sound of a perfect fifth, sing the first few notes of “Twinkle, Twinkle”.

But there are two fundamental problems with the “sing up the scale” and “sound likes the beginning of…” methods:

  • They are incomplete, because they teach intervals only in a very specific context, ignoring all other possible contexts.
  • They are misleading, because there is a danger that this will turn into [context-dependent] Solfege training, not [context-independent] interval training.

The correct, general-purpose way to study intervals is independent of context–because the goal is to hear the unique sound/feeling of each pair of notes independently of any key center and independently of which notes came before. Got it? Good!

learn more… Triads