Chapter Three

Let's take a closer look at intervals. You may be wondering how to calculate intervals (that may be optimistic thinking on my part). Calculating intervals is easy. You simply subtract the interval from 9. For example, if you want to invert a unison, then you do the following (9 - 1 = 8), which is an octave. Inverting a 3 will get you a sixth (9 - 3 = 6). Inverting a sixth will get you a third (9 - 6 = 3). You should have the idea.

Helpful hint: inverting a perfect interval always results in another perfect interval.

Inverting perfect intervals:

Unison interval becomes an inverted interval (9 - 1 = 8).

4th interval becomes a 5th interval (9 - 4 = 5).

5th interval becomes a 4th interval (9 - 5 = 4).

Octave interval becomes a unison (9 - 8 = 1).

Helpful hint #2: inverting major intervals always results in minor intervals, and inverting minor intervals always results in major intervals.

Helpful hint #3: inverting diminished intervals results in augmented intervals, and inverting augmented intervals results in diminished intervals.

Recognizing intervals by looking at ledger lines is relatively easy. You simply need to be able to count the lines and spaces. Recognizing and identifying intervals by listening to ear is much more difficult. Those who learn to "play by ear" are able to listen to music and recognize the intervals. Of course the ulitimate objective is to be able to play what you hear. The important aspects in playing by ear are to identify the key note and then recognize the intervals. We can give a few examples, but the only real answer to learning to play by ear is practice. Start with simple songs and see if you learn the music without viewing the sheet music. You can start the process of learning to play by ear on Sheet Music USA by listening to the midi files, print blank sheet music, and then write down what you hear. It also helps if you hum the music to yourself why you are listening to it. Then find the notes on the instrument. Remember to start with the keynote from which you should be able to derive the other notes.

Here is an example to get you started

Shenandoah Midi File

What is they keynote? In this example the keynote, which is also the last note of the composition, is C. Knowing that the keynote is C, you should be able to construct this piece of music. In case you need a couple hints, there are no sharps and flats and the piece also include C's relative minor, which is A minor. Work on it a while and see how you compare the actual sheet music.

Shenandoah Sheet Music

End of Chapter Three

Go Back to Beginning