Sight singers aren't looking at each individual note as they read, they're looking at the relationships between pitches. Those relationships between notes are called intervals.
An interval is just the distance between pitches. Smaller intervals feel closer together and larger intervals are a little trickier to find. There are only 11 distinct intervals (12 distinct pitches, and 11 spaces between them).
Its easier than you think if you use melodies you can already probably sing in your head.
1. Minor Second: Jaws Theme
The minor second is your quintessential evil villain approach sound.
2. Major Second: Happy Birthday
The major second is all over the place, but the second and third notes of “Happy birthday” The first note and second notes are the same, so it’s really that difference between “py” and “bir” that you’re looking for.
3. Minor Third: Greensleeves
The first two notes of “Greensleeves” provide all your minor third needs.
4. Major Third: When the Saints Go Marching In
The major third is a common happy song sound, so you hear it in a lot of feel-good songs. I like to use the first two notes of “When the saints go marching in”
5. Perfect Fourth: Here Comes the Bride
That first leap in the melody of “Here comes the bride” is so recognizable - it’s a really easy one to remember.
6. Tritone: Maria (from West Side Story)
The tritone is one of those nutty intervals that people used to believe was spawned by the devil because it’s so uncommon and dissonant. Naturally, Leonard Bernstein used it in “Maria” you can hear the tritone in the first two syllables of her name (“Mar-i”).
7. Perfect Fifth: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
It’s hard to forget a perfect fifth when you think of the opening notes of “Twinkle, twinkle little star”
8. Minor Sixth: The Entertainer
The main melody of the ragtime classic “The Entertainer” starts with two pickup notes that are minor seconds, and then bounces on three minor sixth intervals in a row that are super memorable.
9. Major Sixth: “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.”
The first two notes of this song give you a major sixth in about as explicit fashion as you could ask for.
10. Minor Seventh: Somewhere (from West Side Story)
Not surprisingly, we’re stuck on West Side Story. The classic song “Somewhere” is built around the leap of a minor seventh in the first two notes of the melody. That reaching feeling the interval creates helps establish the dreamy, aspirational quality that’s at the heart of the piece.
11. Major Seventh: Take on Me
The major seventh is another slightly dissonant interval that asks for resolution. The chorus of the ’80s classic “Take on me” by A-ha starts with a soaring major seventh interval (“Take on”) before resolving to the octave (“me”).
King's Lynn Male Voice Choir
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