Music

How Can Intervals Be Used to Identify Notes at a Distance?

How Can Intervals Be Used to Identify Notes at a Distance?

If you’re an aspiring musician trying to enter the industry, your ability to identify the notes plays a key role. Why do you wonder? If you can learn and recognize the interval between two notes, you’ll distinguish various types of chords and rhythms much faster than a person unaware of the intervals.

In music theory, intervals and chords are a base where additional elements such as melody, harmonics, and other instruments are laid to complete a song. “How can I start my interval training” or “how to identify notes in music” might be some questions you might have as you’re reading, and that’s what we’ll be explaining in this article! 

Why is interval training needed?

You may have encountered many people who can replicate a tune only by hearing it once. They’ll be able to identify a particular note or a chord without hearing a reference note. This ability is called perfect pitch. Surprisingly, if you have this ability, you’re one of the 0.01% of the general public with perfect pitch. 

Similarly, some people can identify and sing notes and chords by hearing the reference notes without prior knowledge of music theory. This ability is known as relative pitch. Unlike perfect or absolute pitch, you can train yourself for a significant time to develop your relative pitch. This is where interval music notes training comes into action. 

How does interval training benefit you?

Identifying notes by ear plays a crucial role in how you are able to develop yourself as a musician. If you master the concept of intervals, you’ll be able to improvise any song you’re playing like a breeze. You’ll no longer have to ask other musicians about which scale they’re playing. 

You will be so good in real life that people will not be able to point out whether you have perfect or relative pitch. Now that’s a sign which shows you’re dedicated and hard-working. 

Now, let’s get into the details; “how can you rely on intervals to recognize notes in the distance?”

Understand the intervals between notes

In the C Major scale, you’ll be able to find seven degrees or notes until the C of the next octave, as shown below: 

  • A Perfect Unison (C) 
  • Major Second (C to D)
  • Major Third (C to E)
  • Perfect Fourth (C to F)
  • Perfect Fifth (C to G)
  • Major Sixth (C to A)
  • Major Seventh (C to B)
  • Perfect Octave (C to C) 

These degrees get their names because of the intervals between them. For instance, if you look at the Perfect Fourth, you’ll see 4 intervals from C to F. Now, what about the intervals in the minor scale? You must reduce a semitone or a half step from the Major Third, Sixth, and Seventh notes to obtain the minor degrees. Now that’s how you understand the intervals between the notes. 

Determine the note’s connection to the keynote

In this step, you’ll compare the note’s relation with the chord’s root note instead of comparing it to the following note. This is much more useful when the chord progressions frequently change within the scale. 

For instance, if two chords are playing, say the C Major and G Major. For the first chord, you’ll have to play the keys C, E, and G. For the second chord, you’ll play G, B, and D. Notice how the third note in the C Major chord becomes the root note of the G Major chord. By practicing this way and understanding the relation of notes in the chord, you’ll be able to perform smoothly.

Automatic/Passive Recognition

This method is entirely different from the first two types. Here, you try to ignore the intervals and focus more on the notes themselves. If you’re a newbie, this method will be a bit challenging because recognizing the notes without having an idea about music theory. This is more suitable for people who have been performing or playing for a considerable time. 

Once you have mastered the relative pitch, identifying and replicating the notes just by hearing them will be easier. 

If you wish to strengthen your skills, we recommend vocal training for high notes and lower ones, as your brain will be able to store this information as you’re giving instructions vocally. To start with, play a note and repeat it as you move through the scale.

After practicing the individual notes, move to fewer complex chords. Ask one of your fellow musicians to play a random chord, and then you can try to decode and break it down individually. 

The more you practice these interval training steps, the faster you’ll be able to recognize and replicate the notes. When you’re done with the training, it is better to go for a small jamming session with your friends to put what you’ve learned into action. 

This will give you the added benefit of learning from others who may be far more experienced than you. So do not shy away from performing with others. 

In conclusion

Interval and pitch training will take a lot of time to master as it is a complex process. You need to practice for hours and hours while reading as many music sheets as possible to go in depth.

The key is not to do everything at once. Learning music is very slow and intricate, and there are no shortcuts. Once you reach a specific echelon, you’ll be able to detect a minute change in the frequencies in a track, making you capable of performing any song of any genre. 

And that marks the end of this topic, folks! How long did it take to understand the concept of intervals from the day you started learning? And do you have any other suggestions that may help other music enthusiasts? Our comments are open for your thoughts! 

About Author

Dana Cull

Dana is a digital content creator with a self-confessed obsession with writing. She is also an avid reader and loves to spend her leisure hours watching documentary films from different directors across the world.