Interval Reference Songs

| music

A little table of songs/compositions to kick-start interval ear training. What works best for you depends on what you know well, which is why this collection is a bit heavy on German music. For some intervals there is, of course, less of a choice than for others, and you'll find the same songs in lots of similar lists.

Interval Ascending Descending
Minor second Dark eyes (Hermann) Winterreise: Gute Nacht, Die Krähe (Schubert)
Major second Irgendwo auf der Welt (Heymann) Nokia ringtone
Minor third Lullaby (Brahms), Tausend Sterne sind ein Dom (Köhler) Winterreise: Der Lindenbaum (Schubert)
Major third Alle Vögel sind schon da Beethoven's 5th, Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte (Hollaender)
Perfect fourth Tannhäuser: Pilgrim's chorus (Wagner) Winterreise: Der Leiermann (Schubert)
Tritone The Simpsons opening theme Dante Sonata (Liszt)
Perfect fifth Little G minor fugue (Bach) Swan lake (Tchaikovsky), Waltz for Debby (Evans)
Minor sixth Tristan und Isolde: Prelude (Wagner), Requiem: Lacrimosa (Mozart) Love story theme (Lai)
Major sixth In einem kühlen Grunde, Take the A train (Strayhorn) No surprises (Radiohead), Ow! (Gillespie)
Minor seventh Star Trek theme (Courage) Watermelon man (Hancock)
Major seventh Don't know why (Harris) I love you (Porter)

Using reference songs is a fun method to calibrate your ear and get quick results in ear training tests, but in practice probably not that useful. Usually intervals appear within some musical context, which makes it harder to use reference songs: the same interval can sound very different, so at some point it's better to walk without this crutch. But the context also makes it much easier. You can use additional information (take, for example, Don't know why, where you immediately recognize the major seventh chord) and don't need to think about individual intervals all the time.