Intervals 2

Hearing intervals

Many people use familiar tunes to help identify basic intervals. This can work, but be careful because always thinking of “here comes the bride” for a fourth only gets you used to so-do fourth, and not the do-fa (or any other) fourth. Here are some I remember, feel free to find your own examples. Additionally, many of these are only the interval from the lower note to the higher note, and learning descending intervals can be much harder.

For singers, I recommend singing through various leaps on solfège in both up and down directions, and in different places in the scale. (Most solfège listed here is from major keys, learning minor key solfège opens many more possible intervals.)

Minor second/half step

do ti, fa mi

iconic interval of Jaws theme: and opening of Dvorak New World Symphony 4th mvt:

Major second/whole step

first interval of “Frere Jacques:” (do re)
other possible solfège: re-mi, fa-so, so-la, la-ti

Minor third

“Ring around the Rosie” (so mi descending) [I could NOT find a good recording of this without out-of tune children]
other possible solfège: ti-re, re-fa, la-do

Major third

opening of vocals for “Wonderful World:” (do mi)
other possible solfège: so-ti, fa-la

Perfect fourth

Wagner’s Wedding March: (so do)
other possible solfège: re-so, mi-la, do-fa, la-re


beginning of verse (after intro 0:40) “Maria” from Westside Story: (do fi)
other possible solfège: fa-ti

perfect fifth

Star Wars theme (0:08): (do so)
other possible solfège: so-re, la-mi, fa-do, re-la

minor sixth

“Yeah!” by Usher (background accompaniment loop Do so do le)

other possible solfège: ti-so, mi-do, la-fa

major sixth

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” opening of vocal: (mi so descending)
other possible solfège: re-ti, fa-re, do-la

minor seventh

(so fa)

“Somewhere” Westside Story: (0:28)

Beethoven String Quartet opus 18 #3 opening:

other solfège is possible, but so-fa is the most common by far.

major seventh

“Bali Hai” South Pacific (0:04) (do ti)


“Somewhere Over the Rainbow:” (do do)

Notice again that the solfège for minor thirds and major sixths (and major 3rds and minor 6ths, and perfect 4th and 5ths) are the same but in the opposite order. These intervals are inversions of each other.


Try listening to the following intervals and identifying them. Some are out of context, some will have a key to help with solfège:

If you have more questions, let me know!

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