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Ryan Waller
Jul 11
So I'm having trouble distinguishing descending m6, M6, and m7 intervals. For some reason, it's only these intervals and it's only when they're descending. I can hear them just fine when they're ascending or mixed. I've tried finding songs/melodies to help me memorize the intervals but it doesn't seem to help. Any advice?
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Mike Check
Jul 11
It took me longer to hear them descending too. If I wasnt sure which descending Interval it was, I tried to imaging it to ascend, so basicly hear it backwards, the 2nd note first, then the first.
At some point I was able to hear it without imagining it to be backwards.
Hope it works for you too!
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Brian Blades
Jul 11
I could never find any suitable songs that used those particular intervals in descending order. So for me I would sometimes just try to hear whatever songs I was using backwards. I used the Entertainer for minor 6ths, and the NBC theme for major 6ths. I don't even remember what song I used for minor 7ths. And that worked ok, I suppose. But tbh, for minor 7ths, I could always hear it pulling up to the root. It wasn't quite as easy as with Major 7ths (since M7ths are only one chromatic step away from resolving back to the root/octave) whereas m7ths are 2 steps away. But it still did the trick. I would just take the top or bottom note of the interval pair and then hum (or imagine in my head) it walking up or down 2 chromatic steps where it would then resolve to the root. Like 'bah, bah, bah..' in my head. It almost has a jazzy/bluesy kind of sound/feel to it, especially when in ascending order. Probably because that particular sequence of 3 notes (m7 to M7 to root) is commonly used in riffs for those particular genres. Play those notes in sequence on a piano or guitar. (Lower root - m7 - M7 - higher root). You'll hear what I'm talking about. Very bluesy. Hey.. whatever works, right? Also, m6 can have a bit of a 'major' sound in isolation. That's because it's a backwards major 3rd (ie a minor 6th of E -C flipped around is a major triad of C-E).

The good news is that I no longer have to use songs to recognize intervals. I just recognize the sound or the 'color' of the interval (well.. maybe 90% of the time). So I guess the message here is to find something (anything) that works for recognizing the intervals and then practice a whole lot. And eventually you'll be able to recognize them without any 'tricks'.
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Brian Blades
Jul 11
Also, if you're a guitar player, you've likely played m6's many times on your guitar. It's the interval you get when you play a power chord but then drop the low note (root note) down one fret while leaving the other finger in place.
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Hugo Paris
Jul 11
I used the functional ear training approach for those and it helped me grow. I still use it often with my voice (or singing in my head). You can also use an instrument but the advantage of the voice is that you cannot cheat by looking, plus it helps internalizing.

m7: I see if the interval wants to go up by three semitones (very memorable sound) from the m7 to the P8

M6: it wants to go down by two sets of M3 M2 P1

m6: it wants to go down by two sets of m3 M2 P1

M6/m6 eventually had the Minor / Major flavor reveal itself, where I don't have to think as much about it if they are my the two options I am deciding between in a game.

Hope it helps!
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Ryan Waller
Jul 12
Thanks! I appreciate the advice!
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Paul Cox
Jul 12
I also have difficulty with m6 and m7. For the descending M6 I immediately hear Radiohead’s “No Surprises”.
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Steve Eee
Jul 12
“No Surprises” is great song for descending M6 ! I needed that.Thanks Paul !
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Colin Aiken
Jul 13
I love that song.
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There's a distinctive descending m7 interval in Running Up The Hill by Kate Bush. The synth plays Bb-G-C, and at about 0:19 just Bb to C, which is the descending m7.
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Cuantas Vacas
Jul 13
The main motif in 'Kashmir' by Led Zeppelin (first 10 seconds of the song, actually) could be described as the chromatic ascension of the same 6-note pattern, always sounding against the tonic. FIrst pattern hits a P5 and it is useful as a reference. Then m6, M6 and M7 before resolving and starting again. In the gaps between each group of 3 equally-pitched notes you always find the tonic below, so it's easy to hear the descending intervals. Good luck!
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Josh Keisler
Jul 13
'None but the Lonely Heart' by Frank Sinatra has a really clear descending m7 (the first two words of the song - 'None-but...').
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I find songs are also the best way to go abut learning tricky intervals.

It's also worth noting that your relative pitch might be throwing you a bit. For example, someone above mentioned that 'No Surprises' is a good one for a M6, and it is, but it's also worth noting that the guitar is essentially marking out a 2nd inversion major chord, where the M6 interval is the 3rd of the chord, to the 5th of the chord down an octave. This is going to sound a lot different in context than a root descending to a m3 (which is also a M6 interval) or a M6 descending to a root. Relative pitch and musical context has a massive part to play in how we hear intervals.

Hope this helps in some way! :)
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If you are a Sci-fi fan like me, especial Star Trek, the m7 interval is the first two notes of the Star Trek theme. EZPZ. Sing Star Trek and reverse it. OR, if you are a Bernstein/Sondheim musical theater head, as I am also, in West Side Story, the first two notes of Somewhere (There's a...) is also an m7. I can hear an m7 from a mile away because of these two pieces of music.