This lesson is taken from the upcoming Ear Training For Bass Guitar course. The course takes you through the basics of getting started with ear development and transcription. In this lesson, we work through each of the intervals of the major scale in turn. We learn the sound of each interval and find a mnemonic trigger to help us with our recall.

Intervals Of The Major Scale

In the previous lesson, we practised singing the major scale that suited your range the best. This week, we are going to take the same scale you chose and break it down to hear the individual intervals within it.

Exercise 1: Remind your fingers of the major scale shape by playing it a couple of times and moving around to different starting notes.
Exercise 2: Try the scale again, but this time sing along as you play.
Exercise 3: Now try singing the scale without playing.

Note: Don’t worry about what you sound like – the aim of this is purely to get the sound of the scale in your head.

To find the intervals within the major scale, all we have to do is number the degrees and then add the appropriate prefix – in this case, it will be either major or perfect.

There are other types of prefix that can be assigned to an interval, including minor, augmented and diminished. The word we use depends on how the note is altered and this depicts the type of scale we end up playing.

Now we are going to play and sing every interval in the major scale in isolation. Here is the name of each one along with what degrees you have to jump between to find them:

Perfect Unison – 1 to 1
Major Second – 1 to 2
Major Third – 1 to 3
Perfect Fourth – 1 to 4
Perfect Fifth – 1 to 5
Major Sixth – 1 to 6
Major Seventh – 1 to 7

Spend time with each interval in turn, listen carefully to the sound of it and sing it back. Internalising the feel of each interval will familiarise you with all the options you have available to you – expanding your pallet when improvising and playing.

Mnemonic Triggers

Memorising intervals can take a lot of time and repetition, so it can be beneficial to have some songs you can refer to in your head to work out a specific interval. Here are some songs you can use for the major scale intervals:

Major Second – Happy Birthday or the start of the major scale
Major Third – When The Saints Come Marching In, While Shepards Watched Their Flocks hymn
Perfect Fourth – Amazing Grace, Auld Lang Sine
Perfect Fifth – Start Wars
Major Sixth – The Lord’s My Shepard
Major Seventh – Superman

If you aren’t familiar with any of these songs, choose a song that springs to mind when you hear that interval and memorise that instead.

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