How to Remember Musical Intervals

Musical intervals are the building blocks of music. Without intervals, it wouldn't be possible to construct chords or play scales. Intervals create motives, melodies and phrases. Musicians should study intervals to increase their knowledge of and ability to interpret music. Even the most stubborn ear can learn to quickly identify intervals in music with a daily, dedicated regimen.

Step 1

Start by finding a familiar song that starts with an interval you want to memorize. For instance, the theme from "Jaws" is a minor second. This will help you in the beginning when you are just learning the intervals. With practice, you will be able to stop relying on these tricks to identify intervals. In the resource section, there is a link to songs that begin with each major interval.

Step 2

Compare the interval of a perfect octave to a perfect fifth. These are two of the most commonly used intervals. To compare intervals, use a computer program or record yourself playing several intervals on a piano. Play these intervals back and listen to them to see if you can identify the difference between an perfect octave and a perfect fifth. When you can accurately identify 15 intervals in a row, move on to the next interval.

Step 3

Compare the intervals of a perfect fifth and a perfect fourth. Once you can accurately identify each interval 15 times in a row, add the interval from step 1.

Step 4

Compare the intervals of a major third and a minor third. After memorizing these intervals, try playing through all the intervals learned so far.

Step 5

Continue comparing intervals in groups of two and then adding them to the combined set until you have memorized all of the intervals in an octave. The remaining sets of intervals should include: major and minor seconds; major and minor sevenths; tritone, major and minor sixths.


Give yourself plenty of time to learn an interval. Once you have memorized an interval it is yours for life. It is not easy to forget an interval that has been learned properly.

Have a friend help you learn intervals by playing them for you. This way you don't have to record the intervals and you can trade off identifying with your friend.

Take an online course such as those offered from These courses will provide you with intervals you can place on your audio device and study.


Avoid practicing for more than one hour per day. It is easy to overwhelm the ear with too much practicing.


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