An interval is the distance between pitches. Intervals have a number and a prefix. The number represents the number of pitch names (C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C) from the first to the second pitch. It also indicates how many lines and spaces of the staff are between the pitches (including the pitches themselves). For example, the whole step C to D contains two pitch names, C and D. This interval is called a second. The interval from C to E contains C, D and E; three pitches. This interval is therefore called a third.

The trend continues through to the interval containing eight pitch names. An interval containing eight pitch positions (from C to C or from G to G) is called an octave. An interval from one pitch to the exact same pitch is called Unison. The diagram below shows a C major scale. The intervals are marked.


The second part of an interval name is based on the quality of the interval. It is referred to as the prefix.

Perfect intervals include the unison and the octave. Perfect intervals also include fourths and fifths. Perfect intervals are labeled with a capital “P.”

The Major prefix is only used for seconds, thirds, sixths and sevenths. Major intervals are labeled with a large “M.”

Minor intervals occur when a major interval is made one half step smaller. This can be done by raising the bottom note or lowering the top note. Minor intervals are labeled with a small “m.”


The easiest way to find an interval’s name is to first, count all the pitch names present (or the lines and spaces) including the notes themselves. To find what type of interval it is, what number does it have?  1, 4, 5 or 8 is Perfect.  2, 6 or 7 is Major (or minor if the note is sharp or flat)


Intervals are traditionally considered either consonant or dissonant. Consonant intervals are usually described as pleasant and agreeable. Dissonant intervals are those that cause tension and desire to be resolved to consonant intervals. These descriptions relate to harmonious intervals.

C – C#
1 half step
San Francisco (I Left My Heart)
Bye, Bye Black Bird
It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night (Beatles)
Isn’t she lovely (Stevie Wonder)
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Joy to the World
The Lady is a Tramp
C – D
2 half steps
Happy Birthday
Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
Silent Night
My Funny Valentine
Frere Jacques
Do, a Deer (Sound of Music)
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Deck the Halls
Away in a Manger
Yesterday (Beatles)
Three Blind Mice
Whistle While You Work
Mary Had a Little Lamb
The First Noel
C – D#
3 half steps
Brahm’s Lullaby
Oh Where, Oh Where has my Little dog
So Long, Farewell (Sound of Music)
Star Spangled Banner
Frosty the Snowman
Hey Jude
You’re a Grand Old Flag
Jesus Loves Me
C – E
4 half steps
Oh When the Saints
Michael Row Your Boat Ashore
Kum Ba Yah
Ob-la-di Ob-la-da (The Beatles)
Morning has Broken
Beethoven’s Fifth
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Good Night Ladies
Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me
C – F
5 half steps
Here Comes the Bride
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Oh Christmas Tree
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Amazing Grace
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Born Free
George of the Jungle theme
C – F#
6 half steps
Maria (West Side Story)
Blue Seven (Sonny Rollins)
C – G
7 half steps
Twinkle, Twinkle
Hey There Georgy Girl
Blackbird (Beatles)
My Favorite Things
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Scarborough Fair
My Girl (Temptations)
The Way You Look Tonight
What do you do with a Drunken Sailor
Flintstones theme
C – G#
8 half steps
The Entertainer (third and fourth notes)
Love Story Theme (where do I begin)
C – A
9 half steps
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Dashing Through the Snow
Nobody Knows the Troubles I’ve Seen
Crazy (Patsy Cline)
Sweet Caroline
C – A#
10 half steps
There’s a Place for Us (West Side Story)
Old Star Trek Theme
White Christmas (Last line – Christmases)
C – B
11 half steps
Take On Me (A-Ha)
Don’t Know Why (Norah Jones) (I waited for)
I Love You (Cole Porter)
C – C
12 half steps
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
A Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Bali Ha’I (South Pacific)
There’s No Business Like Show Business (Notes 2-3)
Willow Weep for Me

The Solfege system is going to help us learn to sing intervals.  Stay tuned for that!

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