WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN. Last month, we equated the opening notes
from a slew of familiar melodies to their
corresponding ascending intervals. Now
it’s time to turn our ears upside-down and
reverse the process.
Unless noted otherwise, the following
descending intervals are used to play the
first movement between notes in the corresponding
popular melodies. You know the
drill: Grab a guitar, start on any note, and
see how far you can get playing any of the
following melodies purely by ear, either on
a single string or spread out over several.
Again, try to keep track of the intervallic
map unique to each song and let your ears
guide you. (Note how we have fewer examples
as the intervals get wider.)
See how many descending (and ascending)
intervals you can identify in your daily
life. Test yourself with songs, commercials,
the sounds of the city, or the sounds of
nature—they’re all fair game in the quest
for big ears.
DESCENDING MINOR SECONDS (1/2 step): “Beautiful Dreamer,”
“Never Never Land,” “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Lucy in the Sky
with Diamonds” (chorus), “Pomp and Circumstance,” “I Am
the Walrus,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,”
“Stella by Starlight,” “Mexican Hat Dance,” “Something,”
and “Sabre Dance.”
DESCENDING MAJOR SECONDS (1 step): “Swanee River,” “Three
Blind Mice,” “We Three Kings,” “Deck the Halls,” “The First
Noel,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “Yesterday,” “If I Were a Rich
Man,” “Sunshine of Your Love” (instrumental riff), “Alfie,”
“Satin Doll,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and “Don’t Get Around
DESCENDING MINOR THIRDS (1 1/2 steps): “Star Spangled
Banner,” “Dixie,” “Caissons Go Rolling Along,” “Misty,” “The
Girl from Ipanema,” “Hey Jude,” “Good Day Sunshine,” “Light
My Fire” (second and third notes), and “We Gotta Get You a
DESCENDING MAJOR THIRDS (2 steps): “Summertime,” “Bad
Moon Rising,” “Goodnight Ladies,” “Light My Fire” (opening
keyboard riff), “Sentimental Journey,” and Big Ben’s chimes!
DESCENDING PERFECT FOURTHS (2 1/2 steps): “Clementine,”
“O Come All Ye Faithful,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,”
“King of the Road,” “All of Me,” “Goodnight” (Beatles), and
“Green Acres” (theme).
DESCENDING FLATTED FIFTHS/SHARP FOURTHS (3 steps):
“Purple Haze” (second and third notes of riff).
DESCENDING PERFECT FIFTHS (3 1/2 steps): “Feelings,” “Watch
What Happens,” “Star Spangled Banner” and “Dixie” (first and
third notes), and “Pop Goes the Weasel” (title phrase).
DESCENDING MINOR SIXTHS (4 steps): “Where Do I Begin?”
(Theme from Love Story).
DESCENDING MAJOR SIXTHS (4 1/2 steps): “Nobody Knows the
Trouble I’ve Seen” and “All Blues” (second and third notes).
DESCENDING MINOR SEVENTHS (5 steps): “Willow Weep for
Me” (first and third notes).
DESCENDING MAJOR SEVENTHS (5 1/2 steps): “I Love You”
DESCENDING OCTAVES (6 steps): “You’ve Got to Hide Your
Love Away” (chorus), and “Willow Weep For Me.”
Next Month: Now that you’ve been tricked into two months
of ear training, it’s back to the ‘board with extended intervals.
Jesse Gress is author of The Guitar Cookbook: The Complete
Guide to Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Technique & Improvisation
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