Interval Exercises

You do you measure a year?

The right tool for the wrong job.

If I asked you to measure the distance between two objects, you could reply with a variety of valid responses-

  • Feet and inches
  • Meters
  • Paces
  • Cubits
  • Smoots (Anyone from MIT?)

Well, the same can go for the aural distance between two notes-

  • A number of pitches
  • Several notches
  • Steps and skips

These musical units of measurement are called intervals. An interval as a unit of aural distance between two notes, basically. A crucial skill in ear training is to recognize interval distances, which is the aim of this section. Yes, you’ll have to practice. I’ve set up goals for you. Don’t worry, I care.

The first thing is to know what the heck you’re singing. For now, I’ll refer to intervals by the number of major scale notes, such as seconds, thirds, fourths, and so on. Listen to this:

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This is a C-major scale. It goes up on the notes C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, then goes down. The distance between the first C and D is a “second”. The distance between the C and E is a “third”. The distance between the lower C and the B is a “seventh”. You get the idea.

Task 1

  • Sing a C-major scale up and down on solfege

Interval excises are all so liberating.

What you should do here is imitate The Sound of Music. Remember that lovely song about Doe a Deer and Fah is a long way to run? Yeah, those are solfege syllables. Distilled from the song, you get Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do. And yes, each syllable falls on a note of a major scale. How cunning.

(Aside: this ear training practice will be based on Fixed Do. What that means is that every time you hear Do, it will always be the note C. A fun fact.)

So practice this several times until it is innate- sing the C-major scale up and down while using the solfege syllables. You’ll quickly realize that going down is way harder. Make it sound just as good as your going up. You gotta know these syllables cold, so spend the time now before you get swamped below.

Task 2

  • Sing thirds going up, using solfege.
  • Sing thirds going down, using solfege.

This task is kind of cool. It’s like singing a major scale up, but you skip up to the third, then down a step, then up a third, then down a step, all the way to the top. It sounds like this:

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The goal for you is to accurately sing along with the recording with proper solfege. That is tricky. To get there, you will have to do it slowly by yourself. If you can achieve the goal easily, try to do it faster but at the same even rhythm.

Now do it on the way down:

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If the notes are too high for your range, do it an octave lower. Again, Even-Steven is the name of the game: you should be able to smoothly sing every note on pitch with the correct syllable without pausing. Don’t get discouraged if its hard, be excited! You’re learning! Hooray!

Task 3

  • Sing fourths going up, with solfege.
  • Sing fourths going down, with solfege.

Fourths are cool because you get that super-tricky interval of the tritone between the F and B, or “Fa” and “Ti”. Love it. Savor it. Welcome to the 20th century.

Going up:

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Going down:

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Task 4

  • Celebrate.
  • Sing fifths up, with solfege.
  • Sing fifths down, with solfege.

Justin Beiber might celebrate with you, assuming he finishes his exercises.

You may wonder- why celebrate? If you have successfully completed the above tasks, then you’ve effectively completed this and the following tasks. You can sing up a fourth that, when inverted, is a fifth I.E. singing fifths is singing upside down fourths. Task 5 is sixths- simply upside down thirds. Task 6 is upside down seconds, a.k.a. sevenths. So celebrate, you’ve got part of these tasks already done!

Going up:

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Going down:

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The goals for these tasks is still the same- singing the intervals smoothly, on pitch, with correct syllables. It will pay off! Think of this as doing audio bicep curls- the chicks/dudes will love your buff earlobes.

Task 5

  • Sing sixths going up, with solfege.
  • Sing sixths going down, with solfege.

You’re so close! Keep up the momentum. We believe in you!

Going up:

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Going down:

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Task 6

  • Sing sevenths going up, with solfege.
  • Sing sevenths going down, with solfege.
  • Go to a party and show off your awesome interval skillz

Sevenths are particularly tricky because they’re a normally ugly sound. Nailing them just right is extra important, but it’s also the final sprint for your interval practice. Give it your all!

Going up:

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Going down:

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Crazyface thinks interval exercises are the bomb.

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YackBack

hey,is there no other exercize one could do to help on singing intervals down or is it just amatter of rote learning thanx paul

#1 
Written By paul on March 10th, 2011 @ 7:51 am

I’ve been singing for over twelve years and haven’t had an excercise regimen like this one. I actually have to WORK! Good Job fellas!

#2 
Written By tWright on August 9th, 2011 @ 11:27 am

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