Intervals - Finally Explained Part 3

The final step to the understatement of the intervals. This time it's for the ears!

Ultimate Guitar
Here we are at the end of our journey. This is the last article about learning the intervals. This time it's about aural training. Hearing intervals, after all is the goal we were heading to, cause never forget, that guitar playing should lead to creating music. And hearing intervals is the first step to building great aural skills, which can lead you to, for example - transcribing music easily, or having great awareness of the melody you listen to, or play. This lesson, as the previous one is a full DIY lesson. (hey, any lesson should be...) Of course, you need to know everything from the first and second part. You don't? Go and repair that! If you're ready, let's start. Remember to have your guitar tuned 100% correct! (as always). I'm going to show you the method which I used, when I was building my aural skills. It consists of learning all the intervals, ascending and descending... By singing, of course! And it looks like this: Firstly, you have to pick the interval which you will focus on. Let's pick, for example a perfect fifth. As you should know - this is the interval of seven semitones. Sounds consonant and... perfect. Right. Now, you know how to play it, cause you have made it trough the previous lessons. Play it on your guitar, ascending. I'll use notes A and E. Like this:
E |-----------|
B |-----------|
G |-----------|
D |-----------|
A |-------7---|
E |---5-------|
Play it, listen to it. Don't hurry. Caress it. Play it again, and really listen to that little melody, again and again. Then, try to sing it. Does it sound ok? I hope yes! If not, don't stop trying until you will fit the note that you sing to the note you play. You can sing any syllable you want. Remember to practice this within your vocal range (you don't want to end up singing the notes that lay on the 20th fret or above :)) Singing the interval will build your ear's memory and ability to recognize it within melodies. Try with every note, in every scale, everything that will fit. Each interval has got its own sound and flavour, which you will have to taste and understand in case of learning all of them. The most important advice is not to hurry this process, as it sometimes takes months, and sometimes years to complete. But the reward you get is awesome. After I had my ears untrained, listening to music was like watching a TV that was all black and white, and after some time of aural practice it began to be more colourful and more beautiful. And, hey - after all, who wouldn't like to have a great skill to recognize intervals? I often welcome my students when I arrive at their homes with saying "Hey, do you know that your doorbell is playing a melody of perfect fifth?" And it is such a horrible greeting! To sum up the lesson. The process looks like this: 1. Pick up your guitar and tune it. 2. Choose an interval, play it somewhere in your vocal range. 3. Try to sing it. Sing ascending and descending. 4. Eventually, sing it from every of the 12 notes, also ascending and descending. You can spell the names, if you are ambitious enough. (I bet you are!) 5. Recognize your achievement by listening to music and looking for the intervals that you already have learned! Do you find any perfect fifths in your favourite tunes? Do it for as long as you have to, and good luck! Remember, the reward is outstanding, and the feeling that that skill gives is not compared to anything other in guitar playing. I wish you best, and as they say - after hard work, party harder. Don't get stuck only in hard working, if you know what I mean. :) Enjoy the results! And like my Facebook page! Daniel Kaczmarczyk

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    hey thanks for the lesson but I tune my guitar half step down and I'll stay like this because it's my favourite tuning, all my songs are composed in E flat, do I have to tune it to normal tuning? I don't think it's a big problem
    Interval is a relation between two notes, and the tuning has got nothing to do with it. If you play a perfect fifth ascending from any note you will play a... perfect fifth. Thats pretty self - explainatory, you just have to listen to it.
    In what order shall we learn the intervals sound?
    I suggest starting from Perfect Fifths and Perfect Fourths. The difference between these two is really small but important. Then go on to octaves (pretty easy), and try major and minor thirds. These are in my opinion the most important intervals, you will mostly hear them in chords. Also, learning perfect fourths sound lets you tune the guitar easily.
    Hi Daniel how is this supposed to make learning to play guitar easier as opposed to traditional methods ? And just a suggestion in the future you may want to consider proof reading your lessons, because it is chock full of grammatical errors, such as words not in proper sequence etc. Making it difficult to follow what you are trying to convey to your audience.