A common way to identify intervals by ear is to associate them with songs or so-called interval reference songs. For example, a descending minor third is equal to the beginning of the song Hey Jude. Use the charts below to make a personal list of reference songs that you know well. Pick one song for each interval. Keep in mind, some intervals are easier to identify because of their unique and distinct sound.

1. Ascending intervals

Interval Song Click to play
Unison God Save the King (John Bull, 1745)
Jingle Bells (James Lord Pierpont, 1857)
Happy Birthday to You (Mildred Hill, 1893)
Let It Be (The Beatles, 1970)
Candle in the Wind (Elton John, 1973)
Minor second As Time Goes By (Herman Hupfeld, 1931)
White Christmas (Irving Berlin, 1954)
A Hard Days Night (The Beatles, 1964)
Jaws Theme (John Williams, 1975)
Isn't She Lovely (Stevie Wonder, 1976)
Major second Frère Jacques (traditional)
Silent Night (Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818)
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (J. Marks, 1939)
Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma, 1945)
Never Gonna Give You Up (Rick Astley, 1987)
Minor third Greensleeves (traditional)
O Canada (Calixa Lavallée, 1880)
Georgia on My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael, 1930)
What the World Needs Now (Burt Bacharach, 1965)
Axel F (Beverly Hills Cop, 1985)
Major third Spring (Antonio Vivaldi, 1721-25)
For He's a Jolly Good Fellow (traditional)
Oh, when the Saints (traditional)
Morning has Broken (traditional)
What a Wonderful World (George Douglas, 1967)
Fourth We Wish You a Merry Christmas (traditional)
Amazing Grace (John Newton, 1773)
Someday My Prince Will Come (F. Churchill, 1937)
Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley, 1956)
Black or White (Michael Jackson, 1991)
Tritone Maria – chorus (Leonard Bernstein, 1956)
The Simpsons Theme (Danny Elfman, 1989)
The Saint (Edwin Astley, 1997)
Fifth Scarborough Fair (traditional)
Byssan lull (traditional)
Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley, 1961)
Perhaps Love (John Denver, 1981)
Top Gun Anthem (Harold Faltermeyer, 1986)
Minor sixth Go Down Moses (traditional)
Waltz in C-sharp minor (Frédéric Chopin, 1847)
In My Life – intro (The Beatles, 1965)
A Town With An Ocean View (Joe Hisaishi, 1989)
Close Every Door (Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1991)
Major sixth My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean (traditional)
Nocturne in E-flat major (Frédéric Chopin, 1830)
La traviata (Giuseppe Verdi, 1853)
My Way (Frank Sinatra, 1969)
Only Love (Nana Mouskouri, 1985)
Minor seventh Maman les p'tits bateaux (traditional)
Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein, 1957)
Theme from Star Trek (Alexander Courage, 1966)
The Winner Takes It All – chorus (ABBA, 1980)
Major seventh Fantasy Island Theme (John Ottman, 1977)
Take on Me – chorus (A-ha, 1984)
Popular (Nada Surf, 1996)
Don't Know Why (Norah Jones, 2002)
Octave Singin' in the Rain (Nacio Brown, 1929)
Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen, 1939)
The Christmas Song (Robert Wells, 1945)
Blue Bossa (Kenny Dorham, 1963)
Ironic (Alanis Morissette, 1996)

2. Descending intervals

Interval Song Click to play
Unison God Save the King (John Bull, 1745)
Jingle Bells (James Lord Pierpont, 1857)
Happy Birthday to You (Mildred Hill, 1893)
Let It Be (The Beatles, 1970)
Candle in the Wind (Elton John, 1973)
Minor second Joy to the World (Isaac Watts, 1719)
Für Elise (Ludwig van Beethoven, 1810)
Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra, 1954)
All My Loving (The Beatles, 1963)
Fields of Gold (Sting, 1993)
Major second The First Noel (traditional)
Mary Had a Little Lamb (traditional)
Eight Days a Week (The Beatles, 1964)
Yesterday (The Beatles, 1965)
Wonderwall (Oasis, 1995)
Minor third The Star-Spangled Banner (Francis Key, 1814)
Morning Mood (Peer Gynt, 1875)
Frosty the Snowman (Walter Rollins, 1950)
Hey Jude (The Beatles, 1968)
They Don't Care About Us (Michael Jackson, 1996)
Major third Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (traditional)
Symphony No. 5 (Ludwig van Beethoven, 1804)
Summertime (George Gershwin, 1935)
Giant Steps (John Coltrane, 1960)
Tears In Heaven (Eric Clapton, 1991)
Fourth O Come, All Ye Faithful (John Wade, 1751)
Eine kleine Nachtmusik (W.A. Mozart, 1787)
I've Been Working on the Railroad (traditional)
Shave and a Haircut (traditional)
All of Me (Gerald Marks, 1931)
Tritone Blue 7 (Sonny Rollins, 1956)
Turn Back, O Man (Godspell, 1971)
YYZ (Rush, 1981)
Even Flow (Pearl Jam, 1991)
Fifth Minuet in G (Christian Petzold, 1725)
The Way You Look Tonight (Dorothy Fields, 1936)
Have You Met Miss Jones? (Richard Rodgers, 1937)
Flintstones Theme (Hoyt Curtin, 1961)
Love Will Keep You Warm (Swan Lee, 2004)
Minor sixth Forêts paisibles (Jean-Philippe Rameau, 1735)
Chega de Saudade (Antonio Carlos Jobim, 1957)
Love Story Theme (Francis Lai, 1970)
You're Everything (Chick Corea, 1973)
Major sixth Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen (traditional)
A Weaver of Dreams (Nat King Cole, 1925)
The Music of the Night (Andrew L. Webber, 1986)
Man in the Mirror – chorus (Michael Jackson, 1988)
No Surprises (Radiohead, 1997)
Minor seventh An American in Paris (George Gershwin, 1951)
Watermelon Man (Herbie Hancock, 1962)
Lady Jane – chorus (Rolling Stones, 1966)
Major seventh I Love You (Cole Porter, 1944)
Octave Willow Weep For Me (Ann Ronell, 1932)
Doogie Howser Theme (Mike Post, 1989)
Todos los días un poco (León Gieco, 1993)
To Zanarkand (Uematsu, 2002)