tip 3 picture

If You Can Pitch A Note Accurately
And Feel At Ease With The Major Scale,
Intervals Are A Natural & Logical Progression

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Use scale knowledge to progress from the 7 "inside" (diatonic) intervals to the more tricky "outside" (chromatic) ones.
If you have followed my tip 2 advice on scales, this next step about intervals, especially the "inside" ones, should be like greeting an old friend.
What is an interval? The distance between 2 notes (pitches). When played simultaneously (vertically), they are called a harmonic interval and when played successively (horizontally) they are melodic intervals.
So what are "inside" intervals? Simply all the distances between the first note and all the others of a major scale. In the case of C-major:

C - D = Major Second tip 3 maj sec  
C - E = Major Third tip3 MajThi  
C - F = Perfect Fourth tip3 PerFourth  
C - G = Perfect Fifth tip3 PerFifth  
C - A = Major Sixth tip3 MajSixth  
C - B = Major Seventh tip3 MajSev  
C - C = Perfect Octave tip3 PerOct  

All inside the (C) major scale (no flats, sharps or natural signs added)

Since I am advocating that you don't worry too much about key signatures and notation at this learning stage, pick a comfortable note in the low end of your register and sing a major scale. Now start jumping:

  • 1st note to second note (nothing new about that, but that is your major second interval)
  • 1st note to third note (you're singing a major third)
  • 1st note to fourth note ( a fourth) and so on, till you reach
  • 1st note to eighth note ( a perfect octave)

It is possible that you may have trouble staying in pitch when the jumps get wider, therefore use the scale as an assistant till you can hit each jump dead center, like this:
Say you're having trouble singing a sixth from first to sixth note, sing the first note, sing (out loud) up the scale to the sixth note a few times, then do the jump:
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 / breath / 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 / breath / 1 - 6

The next step after this: Sing the first note, then "sing" the in between scale notes in your mind only (no sound), sing the sixth note (or whatever) out loud:
1 - x - x - x - x - 6 / breath / 1 - x - x -x - x - 6 / breath / 1 - 6

Now check with a keyboard especially if you're doing this by yourself. Have you sung 1 and 6 in tune?

With some practice you will be able to center those 7 Intervals like a champ.

Now to the "outside" Intervals:

What (chromatic) notes are missing between first and eighth note of the diatonic (inside) scale? Well simple:

Sharp 1 or flat 2
Sharp 2 or flat 3
Sharp 4 or flat 5
Sharp 5 or flat 6
Sharp 6 or flat 7

This is a simplistic way of looking at outside intervals and I'll get into trouble if I don't explain all these using their proper names. Let's again use the C-major scale as an example:

Sharp 1 = C# - official name: augmented unison | Flat 2 = Db - official name: minor second
Sharp 2 = D# - official name: augmented second | Flat 3 = Eb - official name: minor third
Sharp 4 = F# - official name: augmented fourth | Flat 5 = Gb - official name: diminished fifth (also called tri-tone)
Sharp 5 = G# - official name: augmented fifth | Flat 6 = Ab - official name: minor sixth
Sharp 6 = A# - official name: augmented sixth | Flat 7 = Bb - official name: minor seventh

As you can see, all the sharpened notes are called augmented and, except the fifth, all flattened notes are called minor.
That makes it a bit easier to remember. But don't fret about the names, focus on being able to sing them.
Again use the major scale as a helper. The more imaginative you become, the quicker you'll get the hang of these "outside" intervals.
Sing: 1 - 5 (C - G), then 1 - 5 - dim5 (C - G - Gb) or
1 - 5 (C - G), then 1 - 5 - aug5 (C - G - G#) and so on.

A more in depth study on why C# & Db have 2 names in musical theory is beyond the scope of my ear training tips. There are many websites out there explaining this traditional labeling system. If you really need to know, click HERE.

With all music theory exercises: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!

Your goal at this point should be good Relative Pitch,
Being able to take a given pitch and use it as the base
to relate other notes to it with accuracy and ease.

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