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Thread: Identifying (by ear and voice) intervals BELOW a root note.

  1. #1
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    Identifying (by ear and voice) intervals BELOW a root note.

    I'm pretty good and IDing and singing most intervals ABOVE a given note. However, when it comes to IDing a note BELOW a given note, man, I get confused.

    A couple questions:
    1) Traditional Solfege is do re mi fa sol la ti do. That's ascending. If I want to sing a descending major third would I go 'do' then a low 'mi'? Or, would I go do then the sol?

    2) Am I the only one who thinks that intervals BELOW a root note sound so different. IMO, if I play B then the G below, that is a major third, but it feels a lot more somber than if I play B followed by a D# above.

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DukeOfBoom View Post
    I'm pretty good and IDing and singing most intervals ABOVE a given note. However, when it comes to IDing a note BELOW a given note, man, I get confused.

    A couple questions:
    1) Traditional Solfege is do re mi fa sol la ti do. That's ascending. If I want to sing a descending major third would I go 'do' then a low 'mi'? Or, would I go do then the sol?
    If you're starting with "do" it should be "le" - IOW, not one of the normal diatonic (7-note) solfege syllables, but one signifying a minor 6th (b6).
    http://www.fact-index.com/s/so/solfege.html

    Alternatively, you could sing "mi" first and then "do".

    But this is an issue about which note you hear as (or want to make) the keynote (do) - see below .
    Quote Originally Posted by DukeOfBoom View Post
    2) Am I the only one who thinks that intervals BELOW a root note sound so different. IMO, if I play B then the G below, that is a major third, but it feels a lot more somber than if I play B followed by a D# above.
    Right. This is - partly - a difference between "melodic" and "harmonic" intervals.

    Played simultaneously, G-B together should sound the same (quality-wise, not pitch-wise) as B-D#. Both are major 3rds, and - outside of any other context - we perceive the upper note in relation to the lower one.

    When we play notes in succession (melodic intervals), a lot depends on which we hear as primary. Typically (again outside of any context) we judge the first note to be primary - we calibrate our ears to that note, if you like, and relate following ones to it.

    However, we can easily be persuaded otherwise by a prior context.

    So B followed by G may sound like an inverted minor 6th. If B is keynote, that is a "dark" kind of sound.
    Test this by playing a B major chord first, and then those two notes: the G will sound quite dramatic, because it is clearly outside the key we're expecting.
    But now play a G chord first, then the notes B > G. Now it should sound much "happier", like the major 3rd "coming home" to the keynote.

    A good example (of the power of this kind of expectation around melodic intervals) - is the famous opening of Beethoven's 5th symphony: one note (G) repeated 3 times, followed by a drop of a major 3rd (to Eb). It's dramatic because (with no other clues) we perceive the opening note as a keynote. However, it's soon made clear that the key is C minor, so both notes are diatonic. Neither is the keynote, in fact, but there is no real drama between those 2 notes, being the highly consonant 5th and 3rd of the tonic. (And the key does modulate to Eb major later.)
    Last edited by JonR; 10-27-2010 at 12:31 PM.

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    Here's a link that identifies the intervals, as well as a few song suggestions:
    http://fc.bhncdsb.edu.on.ca/~jnicholson/Course%20Schedules/interval_ID_guide.htm

    If you like the song approach, here is another link:
    http://www.earmaster.com/intervalsongs/

    (as a side note, you may be interested in earmaster 5, I use it for my ear training. You can try the demo)

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    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Joey D




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    OK OK, I'm getting better with practice! Amazing how even 20 min a day over the course of week, how much improvement you see.

    i found a cool free program called GNU solfege, it's an open source ear training program in case any one is interested. it's at http://www.solfege.org

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    so you know, i take these ear training tests "Identify the interval - is it a M3, m3, P4, P5 above or below the root" These are all automated in the computer.

    Yesterday I was consistently scoring b/w 80-90%
    Today I'm scoring b/w 40-50%.

    Frustrating indeed.

  7. #7
    †Guitar Hero† ndrewoods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DukeOfBoom View Post
    I'm pretty good and IDing and singing voice lessons most intervals ABOVE a given note. However, when it comes to IDing a note BELOW a given note, man, I get confused.

    A couple questions:
    1) Traditional Solfege is do re mi fa sol la ti do. That's ascending. If I want to sing a descending major third would I go 'do' then a low 'mi'? Or, would I go do then the sol?

    2) Am I the only one who thinks that intervals BELOW a root note sound so different. IMO, if I play B then the G below, that is a major third, but it feels a lot more somber than if I play B followed by a D# above.
    I also think that way. Try to randomly pick a root note and name a series of descending intervals as quickly as you can. If you picked a Perfect 5th below A#, then name a series of Perfect 5ths below A# starting with D#. Then below D# is G#. Below G# is C# then F#, B, E, A, etc. Some intervals will quickly come back to the same note after four or five steps. If you hit double sharps or flats, you can use the enharmonic spelling (for example G instead of Abb) so you can continue the reciting the series. For each practice session, recite a series of ascending intervals using one random starting note. Do this once for each interval type using a different starting note. When you become fast at this you will have mastered counting with intervals.
    Last edited by ndrewoods; 09-11-2011 at 05:33 AM.

  8. #8
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
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    Well, here's what I do and actually suggested this to other classmates of mine:

    Invert the intervals. In fact, I was taught how to do this: The rule of nine. Similar to the rule of three regarding key signatures.

    The rule of nine is: the opposite quality and the numbers add up to nine.

    Bb up to G is a Major sixth; however, Bb down to G is a minor third.

    Major and Minor are opposite qualities and six + three = nine.

    An augmented fourth is the opposite of a diminished fifth (C-F#<->C-Gb). Again, opposite qualities and numbers add up to nine. (4 + 5 = 9)

    When viewing the Perfect interval relationship - only the numbers have to add up to nine "by rule" though they really do not. (P4 + P5 = P8)

    It's also help when dealing with large intervals. Bb to octave G. That's a Major thirteenth; however, we can only go up to the octave. Therefore, the thirteenth becomes a sixth. We can either catapult the Bb or drop the G; thus making the inversion easier to deduce. (It's the same interval upon inverting as noted above)

    When a musician or teacher says that 9 = 2. 11 = 4 and 13 = 6 - that is what s/he means.

    I like to refer to this as Octave Displacement

    Do remember though that you can always count down as opposed to up.
    Last edited by Color of Music; 07-13-2012 at 04:14 AM.

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