A melodic interval occurs when two notes are played in sequence, one after the other. Intervals can also be harmonic, meaning that the two notes are played together at the same time. For example, taking C as the tonic (the "1" or the first degree of the scale), then the third degree of the C major scale is E, so the interval between C and E is called a major third. If the second tone in a major interval is lowered by one half step, the interval becomes minor. The example below shows a major third and a minor third, each starting on C.
There are four intervals which are called perfect intervals, and are found in both major and minor scales. Perfect intervals include the unison (same tone repeated), fourth (five half steps), fifth (seven half steps) and octave (twelve half steps). The examples below show the perfect fourth and perfect fifth intervals starting on C.
Use the Interval Demo application below to compare the sounds of different melodic intervals. First select a bottom tone, then press the buttons to hear how various melodic intervals sound when played from that tone. Also be sure to check out the difference between ascending and descending intervals.
Melodic Drops will help you quickly recognize the most commonly used intervals. It starts with a small set of the most basic intervals and progresses gradually through the complete set, played with a variety of instruments.
Intervals form the foundation for almost everything in music, and learning to identify intervals by ear is one of the key goals of ear training. Have fun with this engaging game that will take the mystery out of recognizing and naming the distance between two tones. Knowing your intervals will dramatically improve your ability to improvise and play by ear!
Go deeper into interval spelling and recognition with Flash Intervals - a flashcard game designed to put your ear for intervals to the test. This game expands on the skills trained in Melodic Drops and Harmonic Drops, adding a wider range of pitches and instrument sounds.
Once you can identify individual scale tones by ear, the next step is to practice aural recognition of simple melodic intervals such as seconds and thirds in a particular key. Most melodic movement from one tone to another is either stepwise (seconds) or in intervals of a third. Two Tones (Major) will train you to quickly recognize these common tone pairs.
This game is the minor key equivalent of Two Tones (Major) and will help you quickly identify melodic intervals within the context of a minor key. You will get practice in all intervals, especially the seconds and thirds which comprise most melodic movement. We recommend the Two Tones games for anyone who is new to aural recognition of intervals.