Interval recognition

Interval recognition, the ability to name and reproduce musical intervals, is an important part of ear training, music transcription, musical intonation, and sight-reading.

Reference songs

Some music teachers teach their students relative pitch by having them associate each possible interval with the first interval of a popular song.[1] Such songs are known as "reference songs."[2] However, others have shown that such familiar-melody associations are quite limited in scope, applicable only to the specific scale-degrees found in each melody.[3]

Here are some examples for each interval:

interval ascending descending
unison Happy Birthday to You[4]
La Marseillaise
Hava Nagila[5]
Jingle Bells[6]
America the Beautiful (on oh beautiful)'[7] Twinkle Twinkle
minor second Theme from Jaws[8][9]
Nice Work If You Can Get It[8]
As Time Goes By
Ode to Joy (2nd and 3rd notes)[9]
Stella by Starlight[8]
Joy to the World[8][10]
Für Elise[8][9][11]
The Sailor's Hornpipe
Wedding March (Mendelssohn)[9]
major second Frère Jacques[8][12]
Silent Night[8][13]
Never Gonna Give You Up[14]
Strangers in the Night[8]
Mary Had a Little Lamb[9]
Three Blind Mice'[8][9][15]
Satin Doll[8]
The First Noel[8][16]
So What
minor third Axel F (the Beverly Hills Cop theme song)[8]
Cowboys From Hell
Smoke on the Water[8]
O Canada[8][18]
The Impossible Dream[8]
So Long, Farewell[9]
Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone[8]
Iron Man by Black Sabbath[9]
Theme from Rocky
Brahms's Lullaby[8][19]

Hey Jude[8][9]
The Star-Spangled Banner[8][9][20]
Frosty the Snowman[8]
Theme to Hook
This Old Man[8] v[21] or I Love You, You Love Me from Barney & Friends[22]}
Ring Around the Rosy
major third When the Saints Go Marching In[8]
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Spring from Vivaldi's Four Seasons[8][23]
I Could Have Danced All Night
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot[8][24]
Westminster Quarters
Goodnight, Ladies"[8]
Symphony No. 5 (first movement)[8][25]

Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow's Route 1 Theme

perfect fourth Taps
Auld Lang Syne[8]
O Tannenbaum/Oh Christmas Tree[8]
Here Comes the Bride[8]
Amazing Grace[8]
Constant Motion by Dream Theater
Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata
Eine kleine Nachtmusik[8]
Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)[8]
Theme From Dynasty[8]
Theme From A-Team
tritone Maria (West Side Story)[8]
The Saint
The Simpsons Theme[8]
listen,learn,read on (chorus)
Turn Back Oh Man
Black Sabbath[8]
perfect fifth Twinkle Twinkle Little Star[8]
My Favorite Things[8]
Scarborough Fair[8]
Also sprach Zarathustra[8]
Theme from Star Wars[8]
Diary of Jane - Breaking Benjamin
Can't Help Falling in Love (on Wise Men)[8]
Seven Steps to Heaven[8]
What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor?[8]
The Flintstones Theme[8]
Back to the Future Theme[8]
minor sixth Bashana Haba'ah
Bei Mir Bistu Shein
Black Orpheus
Conquest of Paradise, Vangelis, Theme of 1492[8]
Pity and Fear (Death Cab for Cutie Song)
saxophone hook from Baker Street
A Change of Seasons I. The Crimson Sunrise - Dream Theater (second and fourth notes)
The Entertainer (big interval after pick-up)[8]
Because (The Beatles song)
You're Everything[8]
Where Do I Begin? (Theme from the movie Love Story)[8]

Across the Stars, Anakin and Padme love theme from Star Wars II.

major sixth My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean[8]
NBC Theme Song[8]
Leia's Theme (from Star Wars)[8]
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear[8]
Jingle Bells (on "dashing" through the snow)[8]
America the Beautiful (on "America," America)
My Way (song)[8]
volta la carta (verse)
All Blues
A Weaver of Dreams[8]
Take the A-Train
Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen[8]
The Music of the Night[8]
Over There[8]
Crazy (popularized by Patsy Cline)
minor seventh Theme from Star Trek[8]
Somewhere (West Side Story)[8]
Embers Fire (Paradise Lost)
The Take Over, The Breaks Over (Fall Out Boy)
Watermelon Man[8]
An American in Paris[8]
Lady Jane (refrain)[8]
major seventh Take On Me[8]
Pure Imagination
Theme from Fantasy Island'[8]
What's New Pussycat?
I Love You[8]

Superman Theme

octave Over the Rainbow[8]
Blue Bossa[8]
The Christmas Song[8]
Sweet Child O' Mine
Let It Snow[8]
Purple Haze intro
How Many More Times
My Sharona
Willow Weep For Me[8]
Doogie Howser, M.D. Theme
To Zanarkand, Final Fantasy X
Bulls on Parade intro

In addition, there are various solmization systems (including solfeggio, sargam, and numerical sight-singing) that assign specific syllables to different notes of the scale. Among other things, this makes it easier to hear how intervals sound in different contexts, such as starting on different notes of the same scale.


  1. Mayfield, Connie E. (2002). Theory Essentials, Volume I: An Integrated Approach to Harmony, Ear Training, and Keyboard Skills. New York: Schirmer. ISBN 0-534-57231-6.
  2. Sutton, Christopher. "The Ultimate Guide to Interval Ear Training". Easy Ear Training. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  3. Rogers, Michael (1983): "Beyond Intervals: The Teaching of Tonal Hearing," Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, (6):18-34
  4. Mildred Hill. "Good Morning to You". Cantorion.
  5. Traditional. "Hava Nagila". The Jews of Cuba.
  6. James Lord Pierpont. "Jingle Bells". Cantorion.
  7. Samuel Augustus Ward. "America the Beautiful". Cantorion.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 "Songs to learn musical intervals". EarMaster. EarMaster ApS. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Use Songs You Know to Learn Your Musical Intervals". Musical scales and chords. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  10. Lowell Mason. "Joy to the World". IMSLP.
  11. Ludwig van Beethoven. "Für Elise". IMSLP.
  12. Traditional. "Frère Jacques".
  13. Franz Xaver Gruber. "Silent Night". Wikifonia.
  14. Rick Astley. "Never Gonna Give You Up". YouTube.
  15. John W. Ivimey. "Complete Version of ye Three Blind Mice". Project Gutenberg.
  16. "The First Nowell". The Hymns and Carols of Christmas.
  17. "Greensleeves".
  18. "National Anthem: O Canada". Government of Canada.
  19. Johannes Brahms. "5 Lieder, Op.49". IMSLP. 4. Wiegenlied (Berceuse).
  20. John Stafford Smith. "The Star-Spangled Banner". IMSLP. Arrangements and transcriptions.
  21. "Free Sheet Music: 'This Old Man' (Primer Level)". Piano Pronto.
  22. Scatarella, Christy. "A Big Hug Over Barney's Song". The Seattle Times.
  23. Antonio Vivaldi. "Violin Concerto in E major, RV 269". IMSLP.
  24. Harry Burleigh. "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". IMSLP.
  25. Ludwig van Beethoven. "Symphony No. 5, Op. 67". IMSLP.
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