Relative pitch is our ability to hear and understand the intervals between notes without having them written on a score.

Developing relative pitch is very useful when we want to compose, or to anticipate the sound of the next note we are going to play. In music, singing the notes aloud or in our mind is very important.

Remember that the first music instrument we have is our body and our mind, so everything starts from there.

Developing relative pitch is quite easy, and fun. If you’ve read the article about the intervals of a major scale, we can proceed to listening to them and building new links in our mind to remember them in a funny way.

We’ll use handpan audio samples of the intervals: the first note you will hear in each sample is the root note of the C major scale.

The second note will be the one related to the interval we are going to learn.

And then you will find the mnemonic clue to remember the sound of that interval.

This is going to work for all the major scales, but for simplicity we are using the C major scale.


Let’s start with the ascending intervals:

Major 2nd interval, from C to D:

The major 2nd interval is easily remembered as the first two notes of the Happy Birthday song:

Have you recognized it? 😉

Let’s keep on!

Major 3rd interval, from C to E:

It is the first two notes of the song Limbo Rock, made famous by Chubby Checker in 1962:

Perfect 4th interval, from C to F:

This can be remembered as the first two notes in the Star Wars Theme (where you can also hear an octave interval from the first to the third note😉):

Perfect 5th interval, from C to G:

The first arpeggio from System of a Down’s famous song Toxicity:

Major 6th interval, from C to A:

The two syllables of the word Brazil in this famous Frank Sinatra’s version of the song:

Major 7th interval, from C to B:

It can be found as the two beginning notes of the Jesse Harris’s song Don’t Know Why sung by Norah Jones:

And finally, the Octave interval, or unison, from C to the next C:

This is the opening line of Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

And you’ll discover how much this song has in common with the first notes Robert Plant sings in Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song:

See you in Part 2 for the descending interval training!