Lesson 9: Intervals - Up

You already know how to find the pitch from the key signature - but how do you find your first note from the pitch? You could just sing up or down the scale - but that takes a little while.

You are going to learn to sing (and recognize) the interval between the first note (the pitch note that is played on the pitch pipe) and any of the other notes in a scale (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8) by thinking of a song that has the same interval.

In this lesson, we will concentrate on examples where your first note is above the pitch note.

Interval Names

In a major scale the intervals are given the following names (minor scales are different - but that's for another lesson):

Major 2nd (M2)
Major 3rd (M3)
Perfect 4th (P4)
Perfect 5th (P5)
Major 6th (M6)
Major 7th (M7)
Perfect 8ve (Octave)

The term perfect is used for intervals of fourth, fifth and octave as they are the same in both major and minor scales (measured from the pitch note).

For major scales, always make sure you write a capital letter M - because a lower case m means minor. So M3 means major third and m3 means minor third.

Musical Mathematics

Interval C-E

If the pitch is C and your first note is E (above the pitch), what is the interval between them?

We need to count all the letters between C and E but there are a few things to remember:

  • Ignore any flats and sharps (yeah!)
  • Count in the right direction - (in this case go up from C)
  • Count both the first note letter and the last note letter (Yes, really.)

So count C, D, E - that's 3 - the interval is called a (major) third. (If it was my part for a song, I would write +M3 in pencil at the top of my music to remind myself of my starting note).

The song I use to remember a major third is the spiritual "Kum Ba Ya"

where the first note of the song is the pitch and the second note is a major third above it.

So when the pitch is playing at the start of a song where I start a major third above the pitch, I think of "Kum Ba Ya" and I know that I'll sing my first note correctly.

Try another one: the pitch is Eb, and the first note is A (above the pitch), what is the interval between the notes?

Interval Eb-A

Count: E, F, G, A = four we know that our first note is up a (perfect) fourth up from the pitch (+P4).

The song I use to remember a perfect fourth is the hymn 'Amazing Grace'

where the first note of the song is the pitch and the second syllable (a-MA-zing) note is a perfect fourth above it.

Try one more example: What is the pitch, the first note and the interval (assuming it will be above the pitch)?

The pitch is Bb and the first note is F so count: B,C,D,E,F = five so the first note is a (perfect) fifth up from the pitch (+P5)

For a perfect fifth, you can think of "Twinkle, Twinkle little star"

Songs to remember the pitch

So, to recap so far

+M2 - just think of singing a scale, 1-2
+M3 - Kum Ba Ya
+P4 - Amazing Grace
+P5 - Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

See if you can sing those intervals

More Songs

Here are some songs for the remaining intervals.

+M6 - My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean

+M7 - Somewhere Over the Rainbow

+8ve - Somewhere Over the Rainbow

See if you can sing all those intervals

So now you can think about the song you need to find your interval while the pitch is playing and make sure you come in on the right note.

Now try it the other way round. Listen to an interval and click the button to say which interval you have just heard.


Great, so now the sight reading will start with notes above the pitch. Play the pitch note to start (the lower one if you have a choice) and then start singing on the correct note.

If you are having trouble, try singing the scale numbers eg 5-4-5-6-7-8 instead of just la.

Some of these are difficult. Just come back a few times until you can sing them all easily. (By the way, in case you were wondering, in these games there are usually 15 different questions which are presented in a random order each time you play)