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Thread: Struggling with Descending intervals

  1. #1
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    Question Struggling with Descending intervals

    Hi - just recently started proactive ear training. it is challenging and does not come naturally to me. one of the methods I use is songs association for intervals. I know some think it's cheating but have to start from somewhere...

    So, Ascending was not to bad but I am struggling with Descending... at the moment trying again and again to focus on Semitones vs. Tone and Major 3rd vs. Minor 3rd. I have the right songs for each but somehow I keep on getting Descending wrong.

    Am keen to get some feedback if anyone run into the same Descending challenge...

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by assafyi View Post
    Hi - just recently started proactive ear training. it is challenging and does not come naturally to me. one of the methods I use is songs association for intervals. I know some think it's cheating but have to start from somewhere...

    So, Ascending was not to bad but I am struggling with Descending... at the moment trying again and again to focus on Semitones vs. Tone and Major 3rd vs. Minor 3rd. I have the right songs for each but somehow I keep on getting Descending wrong.

    Am keen to get some feedback if anyone run into the same Descending challenge...
    If you're OK with those intervals ascending, why not try singing the descending ones backwards?
    Eg, if you hear C-A (or what you think might be that), sing the first note back after the second. Repeat it like that so you hear the interval up and down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    If you're OK with those intervals ascending, why not try singing the descending ones backwards?
    Eg, if you hear C-A (or what you think might be that), sing the first note back after the second. Repeat it like that so you hear the interval up and down.
    Thanks John. so, C-A ascending is Major 6th. you suggest to sing C-A-C to learn A-C descending? not sure I understand...

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by assafyi View Post
    Thanks John. so, C-A ascending is Major 6th. you suggest to sing C-A-C to learn A-C descending? not sure I understand...
    I'm saying that if you know the sound of an ascending minor 3rd - such as A-C - then you can simply reverse it to hear the descending minor 3rd C-A. (Not an ascending C-A major 6th )
    If you can sing it upwards, then you can certainly sing it downwards, by returning to the first note! (A - C - A etc.)

    Same idea works when trying to identify an unknown descending interval that you hear. Presuming you can sing the 2 notes you hear, sing them back inverted (the other way round, 1st note second).

    You should also experiment with playing (on an instrument) any interval you have trouble with, to familiarise yourself with its sound. And sing it as you play it.

  5. #5
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    I'm saying that if you know the sound of an ascending minor 3rd - such as A-C - then you can simply reverse it to hear the descending minor 3rd C-A. (Not an ascending C-A major 6th )
    If you can sing it upwards, then you can certainly sing it downwards, by returning to the first note! (A - C - A etc.)

    Same idea works when trying to identify an unknown descending interval that you hear. Presuming you can sing the 2 notes you hear, sing them back inverted (the other way round, 1st note second).

    You should also experiment with playing (on an instrument) any interval you have trouble with, to familiarise yourself with its sound. And sing it as you play it.
    While JonR is absolutely correct, if you're having trouble with the inverting/inversions of intervals, remember the "rule of nine." The opposite quality and numbers add up to nine. (This doesn't happen with the perfect intervals)

    To pick apart using his example:

    C-A upwards = Major sixth. The opposite of Major is minor and ? + 6 = 9? Three.

    C-F# = Augmented fourth (A4) What's the inverted interval? The opposite of augmenting is diminishing. (d) and 4 + ? = 9? Five. C-Gb is your diminished fifth (d5)

    There are augmented and diminished intervals, A4 and d5 are the most common ones (and they have a another name as well, but I won't mention it, right now)

    But for example: the inversion of an augmented second (A2?) (Which is the correct interval found in the HM scale, btw)

    The inversion of an augmented third (A3?)

    Now, why some think that "Song Association" is "cheating," baffles me because it isn't. Now, if you're doing a test and have (concealed) headphones, that is cheating. However, music is an ear thing. So, something has to be heard.

    The Absolute and Relative pitch training comes from hearing. (No offense, to those whom are deaf)

    Having said this, I understand where you are coming from, but it's been said that one remembers more/better from hearing than by seeing. This gets into the Sight-reading vs. Playing/Learning by ear. (Has there been a debate about that here, JonR?)

    I'm all for using it or not using song assocation, but to me, it is not cheating as association is if not the most helpful device when trying to recall something. (I say this with all due respect, btw.)

    Also when you get into intervals bigger than the octave (9th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th), it would help you greatly evoke octave displacement. This means to make the distance smaller by raising or dropping one of the notes by said octave.

    You'll dive into this further when you start building chords (beyond a Major 7th). All you're doing is adding and/or subtracting 7.

    9 - 7 = 2; 2 + 7 = 9
    11 - 7 = 4; 4 + 7 = 11
    13 - 7 = 6; 6 + 7 = 13

    In the C Major scale:

    While D is note two, it is also note nine.
    While F is note four, it is also note eleven
    While A is note six, it is also note thirteen

    Later, we get other equivalents when we start altering:

    b5 = #11 (d5 = A4 as 4 = 11)
    #5 = b13 (A5 = d4 as 6 = 13; therefore, #5 = b6 (displaced octave) = b13)

    In the C Major scale:

    Gb = b5 (C-D-E-F-Gb)
    G# = #5 (C-D-E-F-G#) and Ab = b13 (b6) (C-D-E-F-G-Ab)

    b9 = b2 (b2 is not used in a chord symbol - usually)

    #9 = #2 (However, most just call it #9; though b3 is correct by sound, like the HM scale where the distance between note six and seven is a minor third when heard, but a augmented second when seen because b3 renames the chord.

    C7#9 = The ninth is D#; however, one hears an E flat. Yet, here is no E-flat in said chord. If it were, it'd be a Cm7 (C Minor Seventh.) Of course, there are exceptions, but usually the #9 and b3 are two distinct intervals meaning two different things.

    Btw, # and b 9, 5, #11, and b13 may be spoken like this:

    "The raised (#) fifth, ninth, eleventh"
    "The lowered (b) ^ (thirteenth only)
    "The sharpened ^"
    "The flatted ^"

    I do hope I provided some additional help. Don't try to soak all of this in at once!
    Last edited by Color of Music; 11-12-2012 at 01:26 PM.

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