Saturday, December 14, 2013

Using Common Songs to Hear Intervals

There's a lot of information online regarding the use of song associations for interval training.  So, I set out to find ascending and descending examples for all the intervals from a minor 2nd through an octave.  Here's what I came up with:

Minor 2nd (one half step)
Ascending:  Jaws Theme
Descending:  Joy to the World

Major 2nd (2 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  Happy Birthday or Frere Jacques/Fray Felipe
Descending:  Mary Had a Little Lamb

Minor 3rd (3 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  So Long, Farewell (Sound of Music)
Descending:  Frosty the Snowman

Major 3rd (4 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Descending:  Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Perfect 4th (5 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  Here Comes the Bride or Oh Christmas Tree
Descending:  Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Augmented 4th/Tritone (6 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  The Simpsons theme
Descending:  Black Sabbath Black Sabbath

Perfect 5th (7 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Descending:  Flintstones

Minor 6th (8 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  The Entertainer (3rd and 4th notes)
Descending:  no example found ("doh-mee" descending solfege)

Major 6th (9 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  old NBC theme or Hush Little Baby
Descending:  Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Minor 7th (10 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  Star Trek theme
Descending:  no example found - please help

Major 7th (11 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  Take On Me
Descending:  no example found - please help

Octave/Perfect 8th (12 half steps or semitones)
Ascending:  Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Descending:  There's No Business Like Show Business (2nd and 3rd notes)

Some of these song associations are so ingrained that they are super easy to hear.  In other cases I struggled to find familiar examples; as in I can't really imagine the Star Trek theme for an ascending minor 7th.  Some of the wider descending intervals must not be very common at all, because I found no usable examples for a descending minor 6th, descending minor 7th or descending major 7th.  

If you know of other intervals examples, especially any that might be found in Grateful Dead or Phish songs, please share them.  


  1. So I've been taking this as a bit of challenge to find at least one of your missing intervals. Those are tricky ones! Good job sniffing out the ones you have, 'cause the only ones you missed are fairly scarce. The best I can do so far is one very much in the middle of a melody, but it's pretty pronounced, so it works just fine. Descending minor 7th in Til There Was You by The Beatles (also in the musical The Music Man.

    "There were bells on a hill, but I never heard them ringing. No I never heard them at *ALL TIL* there was you.

    "All til" is a descending minor seventh interval.

  2. Wow, this is a great idea to associate the intervals with famous songs. I am totally going to work out the missing ones and as soon as I am done - I will let you know. Thanks a lot!