Basic Intonation

This is a posting about recognizing intervals. This can be used in two ways:
a) To form an accurate idea of playing in tune – while chromatic tuners help to tell you whether one note is exactly correct, it is perhaps more important to be correct in the intervals, moving the right distance from one note to another.
b) To play by ear – that is, to be able to play a melody from listening to another player or a recording, without having the written music (notes).

To recognize intervals, there are at least three ways:
i) Listening to and remembering certain famous melodies that show a certain interval
ii) Using a scale to “count” the space of a certain interval
iii) Using chords and feeling choral progressions and cadences
We will discuss the first one today.

Melodies and Intervals
I cannot place mp3s about this here because of copyright laws, but I hope that we can share recordings with each other to help us think about these melodies.
I) Do not be shy to SING. Playing the violin can make you think what you play is right, rather than making sure what is right is what you play.
II) Here I will place the main intervals, there are more than this, but this is a good start, I hope. There are many tunes which use all these intervals; I have chosen the ones which have the intervals repeated a few times.
III) Do not play the violin with the recordings because the instruments there are probably tuned slightly differently to yours (or it has changed through the recording process), or are in a different key – just listen, and think about remembering the intervals. Then play your open string or starting note, and sing the melody in that key.

Minor second (one semitone, re flat): this interval is very important, because it is the basis of the chromatic scale, but is not part of a major or minor scale (which is weird, since it is called a “minor” second)
1) theme from the movie Jaws, played on double bass.
2) theme from The Pink Panther (now known more more its music than the original cartoon and comics)

Major second (one tone, re): this is also very important, since Western-based scales are made up of tones and semitones.
Second theme from the opening title music of Star Wars (any episode): see below

Major third (mi): part of a very basic chord – the tonic triad of a major key, so usually the tunes used are connected to the perfect fifth in do-mi-so
1) Bach’s second violin concerto in E-major (first movement)
2) Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (LAST movement)

Perfect fourth (fa)
1) Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik (I really hope I got the spelling right): first movement
2) Star Wars, main theme (after the 6-8 second introduction): see below

Perfect fifth (so)
Lalo, Symphonie Espagnole for violin and orchestra (first movement)

Major sixth (la)
Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto in D (first movement, main theme)

Major seventh (ti)
This one is difficult, because it is hard to find a piece which goes from do to ti. This is the leading note though, just one step (semitone) back to do.

The best example of do re mi fa so la ti do is still the Sound of Music.

At the end of the day, one should find the best examples from one’s own experiences that will best stick in his or her own mind.

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