#1
Hi all. I was wondering what the best way to practice intervals is. Not the best way to learn the finger positions, which I already know, but to be able to play them and identify them effortlessly on the spot very quickly...being able to know the fingerings and the sound instantaneously...particularly when improvising.

Any suggested methods or exercises?
#2
play each interval all over the fretboard harmonically and sing the notes that make the interval, then play the same interval all over the fretboard melodically and sing the notes that make that interval. Use the note names as you do it too as well as regularly repeating the name of the interval.

Work your way through all the intervals.

Then add a third note so that you have three random notes and you do the same thing.

It's hard work. It takes a long time.

Learn some music by ear too. This helps develop your ear. As you do it don't just learn the notes but pay attention to the specific intervals that are in the music. Maybe it takes you five minutes to find two notes, but once you have them look at the interval, sign it, play it, listen to the original song and hear the interval. Work your way through an entire piece of music.

Some people like to memorize the first two notes favourite songs that they have internalized (like the star wars theme or the wedding march or whatever). There are several lists on the internet if you want to try this.
Si
#3
Well, I just transcribe a lot of music by ear and do atleast 100 intervals in http://www.musictheory.net/exercises/ear-interval every day. I scored 510 out of 520 intervals correct on that trainer (harmonic and both ascending and descending included) BUT I still can't easily hear intervals in real time. Most of the time I still need to sing them first if they're in a musical context. However, I can identify some simple stuff like pentatonic minor melodies and minor VI - VII - i in real time easily. Basically any chord progression, because it's easier to follow the roots due to them moving slower than melodies.

So yes, if you want to for example easily identify intervals of a melody instantly WITHOUT singing it, be prepared to work on your ear training for many years. Of course it's easier if you have your instrument and do some trial & error, but I'm talking about hearing a melody once and being able to write it on paper afterwards without singing it.

I would not recommend the song association method, since it's way too slow.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Aug 18, 2014,
#4
Quote by Mole351
Hi all. I was wondering what the best way to practice intervals is. Not the best way to learn the finger positions, which I already know, but to be able to play them and identify them effortlessly on the spot very quickly...being able to know the fingerings and the sound instantaneously...particularly when improvising.

Any suggested methods or exercises?


well, if you know the finger positions, then you should be able to identify intervals on the spot.

knowing the sound takes time. I recommend fundamental exercises such as practicing intervals, scales, arpeggios and chords, and playing lots of music on your guitar.
#5
Quote by GuitarMunky
well, if you know the finger positions, then you should be able to identify intervals on the spot.

knowing the sound takes time. I recommend fundamental exercises such as practicing intervals, scales, arpeggios and chords, and playing lots of music on your guitar.


I can identify them by position/fingering - I guess I mean I want to be able to hear the interval in my head as or before I play it...instantaneously. Not playing the interval and then hearing what it sounds like. I have a limited knowledge of which notes cause tension and which resolve (n only a couple of scales) but typically play to muscle memory as it takes me too long to think in terms of intervals and then actually play it. This is what I'm trying to change.
#7
Good question. What if for instance you are playing lead on stage live with a singer and you want to complement their melodies on the spot? What if you wanted to play exactly what the singer just sang? That is going to take some skill and I would be really interested if anyone here is able to do such a scenario accurately and how they approached becoming skilled at it.
#8
I found that studying intervals didn't actually help me in terms of the practical application playing the sounds in my head. I got to a point where I was really good at it on internet tests and wasn't seeing any real benefit in my playing. And yet so many ear training resources I found were just like, "Drill intervals!"

And then a friend recommended an ear training book (Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician) and I realized how small a part of that book intervals were. The book focused on hearing functionally. It didn't explain it that way, but in retrospect I can see that's what the book is teaching.

So the thing that made a big difference for me as far as being able to play what I hear was the functional ear trainer, a free download from miles.be. Just doing it for 5-10 minutes a day, every day. All of a sudden I was hearing scale degrees in practice. Not intervals, but scale degrees - "oh, that's a fifth." It drastically changed how I heard and played music.

So I'd say skip intervals, and work functionally for a while, and see what it does for you. YMMV. Maybe I only got so much out of the functional training because I had already done a lot of interval training (but I doubt it). But as my understanding of music has grown, I'm really started to hear how music works functionally, that's how we appreciate it and hear it.

(I was even confused by the word functionally for a while - which in practical terms just means "relative to a key center.")

Intervals don't exist in a void. In the key of C, a G dropping to a C is a fifth. So is an A dropping to a D. So is a D dropping to a G. So is a C dropping to an F.

But all of those movements will feel very different. They're all perfect fifths, but they we hear them differently. That's what a functional approach lets you hear.
#9
Hotspur is on the right track. Learning isolated intervals isn't really much use. I've noticed the same. I can pretty much recognize them with perfect accuracy, but intervals in a musical context is a whole different story.

So yes, focus on hearing the intervals in music in relation to a key center instead of these "interval ear trainers".

I still don't know why they don't implement an ear trainer which makes you spell out fragments of melody with a STATIC key center that doesn't change every damn note. That would be way more useful.

This is why I think transcribing music by ear is the best method, but I wouldn't say knowing isolated intervals is entirely useless either. Sometimes when the key center is ambiguous, I can figure out a melody just by hearing how the intervals are related to each other. Like what's the distance from the previous note to the next without even paying attention to the tonic.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Aug 19, 2014,
#10
I think the isolated intervals is just sort of to get one's feet wet with the basic sound. With all the ear trainers I have come across...you can ear train all the intervals, chords, inversions etc. forever...but actually hearing them accurately in real time flowing in the musical stew seems to be a different ballgame.
#11
Quote by Elintasokas

I still don't know why they don't implement an ear trainer which makes you spell out fragments of melody with a STATIC key center that doesn't change every damn note. That would be way more useful.
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You can do this with the functional ear trainer in the "practice" section.