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Inside Music:
"Tricks For Singing Intervals"
by Richard Middleton

First published in Victory Review, January 2000.

Singing intervals is a great way to improve your musical ear, whether you're a singer or instrumentalist. For some intervals, though, it's easier said than done. A time-honored trick is to sing the beginning of a specific song that contains a desired interval in the first two notes. For example, the first two notes of "Over the Rainbow" form an ascending octave. Other songs can be used in a similar way to produce other intervals.

The chart below lists songs whose first two notes form specific intervals. Most of the songs are in major keys (some are minor). The scale tones are given in parentheses, using the following shorthand: 1d = the first major scale tone, or "doh"; 2r = "ray"; 3m = "me"; 4f = "fa"; 5s = "so"; 6l = "la"; and 7t = "tee." Whenever possible, 1d is one of the two melody notes, so you can relate the interval to the key the song is in.

Min 2nd up: "I Love Lucy" (7t - 1d); "White Christmas" (3m - 4f)
Min 2nd down: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes";
"Fly Me to the Moon" (both 1d - 7t)

Maj 2nd up: "Frere Jacques"; "Do-Re-Mi" (both 1d - 2r)
Maj 2nd down: "Yesterday" (2r - 1d); "My Foolish Heart" (6l - 5s)

Min 3rd up: "California Dreamin" (1d to min3);
"On a Clear Day" (3m to 5s)
Min 3rd down: "A Spoonful of Sugar" (1d down to 6l);
"The Star Spangled Banner" (5s - 3m)

Maj 3rd up: "Kumbaya"; "I Thought About You" (both 1d - 3m)
Maj 3rd down: "Goodnight Ladies" (3m - 1d);
"Summertime" (5s - min3)

4th up: "Love Me Tender"; "All the Things You Are" (both 5s up to 1d)
4th down: "All of Me"; "Happy Talk" (both 1d down to 5s)

5th up: "Chim Chim Cher-ee"; "My Favorite Things" (both 1d - 5s)
5th down: "The Flintstones";
"The Way You Look Tonight" (both 5s down to 1d)

Min 6th up: "Black Orpheus" (5s up to min3)
Min 6th down: "Love Story Theme" (min3 down to 5s)

Maj 6th up: "Jingle Bells" ("dashing...") (5s - 3m)
Maj 6th down: "Crazy" (3m down to 5s)

Min 7th up: "There's A Place For Us" (1d - min7)
Min 7th down: "Something Wonderful" (3m down to aug4)

Maj 7th up: Use 1st & 3rd notes of "Over the Rainbow"
Maj 7th down: Use the above interval in reverse.

Octave up: "Over the Rainbow"; "The Christmas Song" (both 1d - 1d)
Octave down; "Willow Weep For Me" (5s - 5s)

Aug 4th up: "Maria"; "Cool" (both from "West Side Story")
Maj triad: up (1, 3, 5) - "Kumbaya"; down (5, 3, 1) - National Anthem

Happy hunting!

© Copyright 2000 by Richard Middleton.
All rights reserved.

Richard Middleton is a musician, songwriter, producer, educator, and writer based in Seattle. He is the author of "Rhythm Guitar Secrets" (Countersine), and his music writing has also appeared in Smithsonian magazine, Victory Review, and SingOut! magazine.

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