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When I'm doing interval training I always remember that the Star Wars theme is the P5 interval, yet so many times I hear those two notes and swear it sounds like Star Wars it ends up being the P4 interval. My mental note for P4 is Amazing Grace (that's correct isn't it?). Does anyone else have a hard time differentiating between P4 and P5 intervals? Any tips or tricks to it?
Im so sad that I can't just hear it.😓
igor dinotte
Sep 18

I had some time with this issue on the past, an even today sometimes I mislead myself by overconfidence, I believe.

There's a perfect (as the intervals) reason why this happens, and I think that getting to know it makes things clearer, and therefore help dealing with it.

Although music is not science, we know many propertiers of the sound phenomenon, which, of course, is the raw material for music.

In this particular I'm talking about the harmonic series.

After a given tone, the tones the most resembles that tone are: 1st) its octave above; 2nd) its fifth.

So, if we have a C, the most familiar tone to it, which attatches the better, is the G, its fifth.

But C its a fifth of someone too, right? C is the fifth of F... So, after F, the tone that most resembles itself is C (of which F is the 4th).

Add to that there's an artistic style element that is probably embedded in you, specially if you are familiar with baroque and classical styles: the perfect cadence (V-I), in which often we have a 4th leap from the dominant to the tonic at the end of phrases.

Anyways, the 5th and the 4th couldn't be more close related and also apart from each other.

Maybe you should try singing the interval, telling yourself what do you think it's the correct answer, and then sing what the other option would be. So if you sing it and think it's a 4th, take the root tone and sing a 5th. You might confirm your first guess or get one step closer to find it.

I hope it helps! Have a nice training!
Eli Carbone
Sep 19
Yes, lots of trouble with those two. For the 4th, Here Comes the Bride helps. And for the 5th it seems to have a ring to it. Igor's description above explains well why these two are difficult to tell apart.
Dima G
Sep 19
I would recommend not use any songs for interval recognition, but instead use functional ear trainer. Same intervals might be perceived differently depending on the context, for example major 5th between the 1st and 5th scale degree will sound different from a perfect fifth between the 2nd and the 6th scale degrees. Solfege really helps with this too.
Cuantas Vacas
Sep 19
That's an amazing explanation, @igor dinotte . 👌
Ken Wilkens
Sep 19
If I am rushing (playing a game), I will consistently mess up P4 and P5, ESPECIALLY if they are played harmonically. My reference songs are “Here Comes the Bride” for P4th and definitely Star Wars and also Smash Mouth’s “All Star” for P5ths (ascending). For descending I use “Under Pressure” for P4 and an ‘oldie’ called “Feelings” for P5.
I somewhat agree with with what has been said here. The problem of using songs is that later everything will sound like Star Wars in your brain and you'll get confused. I like to interiorize the tensions and personality of the sounds. For example, the perfect fourth going up sounds like you're going from the 5th grade to the 1st. So a resolution of tension. However, the perfect fifth going up doesn't have that tension-resolution characteristic. It does however sound very bright.
Lauri Ramirez
Sep 20
Practicing cadences on an instrument kind of makes the P4 and P5 stick to your nervous system. When in doubt, hum them out loud and things become clear.
Colin Aiken
Sep 21
Stick to your nervous system. I like this, very anatomically inspiring.
Going upwards I use here comes the bride (wagner) for P4. For me it works perfectly, it just makes bang in my brain. Going downwards (strangely) and playing harmonically I also have my problems with P4 and P5.
Steve Vera
Sep 23
It used to but the more I practice, the better I get. I didn’t know that about Amazing Grace, though, so maybe that’ll make it even easier. Incidentally, along with Star Wars, Twinkle Little Star & ABC Song also are P5. I’ll cycle through them and it often helps if I’m uncertain about one of the others.

P.S. Sounds like i really should start playing along on an instrument

Heeyy, I think its pretty common for one to confuse them because they're their antagonist interval: if you flip the P4 interval you are gonna get a P5, so don't get very upset about it because it also depends on the instrument you're listening. Try training the intervals downwards, this may strengthen your certainty between one and the other.
I finally figured it out. The P5 interval is the second interval in the starwars theme, the first interval with the notes in the build up is P4. I was always thinking of the P4 interval in my head but had made a mental note that it was a P5 interval.
du-du-du(P4)duuu(P5)duuuuu. Its way easier after I relaized my mistake.
There is also one more option to try (somehow based on @igor dinotte explanation: Hear or image (when played harmonically, i.e. together) both tones: Try to find out the one, which seems to be the tonic base of both tones (the one where you feel home / settled at). If it's the lower tone, it's a P5, if it's the higher one, it's a P4 (because of the harmonic distinctness of the perfect fifth, which is an inverted P4). Give your feelings a chance and practice it, it works!

@Lucjan Chrustek: Just practise it. You will make progress for sure (for me this always feels like a miracle and it feels good).

BTW: Dont know how to quote/adress other members