The Perfect 5th Interval

In this lesson we learn to hear, sing and play The Perfect 5th Interval.

View the full lesson at The Perfect 5th Interval | JustinGuitar

It would be awesome to have an option to add this exercise to my dashboard as a training item. (With a simple click)

I’m not sure if adding the Ear Training lessons to the practice assistant is on the agenda.
Have you found this tool yet? Interval Ear Trainer |

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

1 Like

God bless you Justin

@richard_close2u is right

Why does the refference of songs have ascending and descending songs ?

I have a question. How should I play the perfect 5th interval if the root note is on the thinnest string E(6)?

1 Like

The 5 interval is on the A string 7th fret. This should help the chart is movable so it doen’t matter what the Root note is the rest follow in the same order.
This is the E shape major scale.

These courses are extremely helpful. How could this one be better, Justin asks? A more complete explanation about what makes a “Perfect 5th” would have been of benefit. Perhaps a link to a separate lesson?

This might help Al. Perfect fifth

I’m not an expert at this but here goes:
Have you heard of A 440? 440 is the number of “vibrations” per second.
The number of vibrations that a Perfect 4th and Perfect 5th have are a Perfect Ratio to 440. Actually, a perfect ratio of vibrations to the Root note of the scale. So, it’s a math thing. Really, we can consider it just the name of the 4th and 5th notes, it’s not really important why it’s called that.

Mike @mtglazer
It is a physics as well as a maths thing.
Here is the frequency of the notes on the fret board

1 Like

i’ve started to try this whilst resting my finger thats developed a bit of an ache. man i am bad at it. i mean nowhere near. Doesnt help that wife strolls past and nails it every time. she thinks im kidding around but this is the best i can do! am i tone deaf? i hope not, i can at least tell im out of tune.

Hello Will
No you’re not tone deaf. Very few people are, a lot just think they are!
Don’t worry about not being able to nail the intervals right now. Training your ear takes time. You can’t force it but you can help it by regularly listening and practicing the intervals.
Play the interval repeatedly on guitar and listen to it. Sing it in your head as you play it. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Imagining the sound in your head helps to hold it in your memory.
Next, play the root and try to sing the second note in your head before you play it. The guitar will tell you if you’re right.

Repeat the above with all the intervals and, with time and practice, you’re mind will gradually separate and recognise the different intervals. Your ear will develop!

1 Like

thanks @BurnsRhythm - i’m keeping going. i quite like the excercise despite finding it hard. wife is helping me work out the notes. ive also found an app (“find the note”) that will tell me the note im singing. I’m literally hooting at it until it says the right note.

I’ve also tried working out twinkle twinkle and darth vaders march tune. dubious results. Its fun doing something so bewildering!


Spot on Will, you’re doing the right things. Play what you hear is a great exercise. Great that your wife is able to help you too.
Don’t expect immediate results, it will be on going and like you say, can be a lot of fun.

This is the first time I’ve tried ear training, so I know I’ll develop the skill, but maybe somebody on here who is more knowledgeable will have some insight on this quirk I seem to have.

It’s easy for me to get the right note every time when I’m going higher, but I consistently choose the wrong note going lower. Like going in one direction is intuitive and coming back down is intuitive but in a different interval, maybe?

I tried out a free online pitch matching site (turns out my voice trends sharp, which is interesting, since when I tried to tune the guitar by ear when I first started, the tuner let me know they were all a bit sharp). The tuner website has a visual keyboard and I noticed my wrong notes always fell roughly the same distance between the two fifth-interval notes, regardless of what I started with. An example is I played an E4 (9th fret G string) (the numbers are for each octave I think), then my natural next note was A3, but the perfect fifth note was supposed to be A3 (7th fret D string). Another I tried started with D#5 (fret 11 high e), my singing attempt was G#4, but on the fretboard the actual note was G#4 (fret 9 B string).

Once I play them they sound natural and it’s easy to match the pitch but my brain obviously expects a different thing musically going in one direction compared to the other.


Also, I don’t really understand the point of playing songs that have some fifth intervals in them? Since most of the song is other notes…

I think most people, including me, find it harder to sing descending intervals. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because we’re so used to hear and sing the major scale ascending?

Am I right that there’s a typo in the examples you gave? Your singing attempt matches the note that you wanted to sing (A3=A3 and G#4=G#4), but I think you meant to say that you sang a semitone sharp or flat?

  • You played an E4 and wanted to sing an A3 (perfect 5th down), but sang an A#3?
  • You played a D#5 and wanted to sing a G#4 (perfect 5th down), but sang a G4?

I honestly think that’s to be expected when you’re just starting out. I’ve been at this stuff for months and I still make mistakes, especially in the lower and higher ranges. I find it a lot easier in the comfortable middle range.

What really helped me are song references for each interval, both ascending and descending.

For an ascending perfect 5th, I hear the Star Wars theme or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

For a descending perfect 5th, I hear the Flintstones theme or Don’t You (Forget About Me) by the Simple Minds.

I made a list of reference songs for descending intervals that resonate with me and I practice singing them in random keys. E.g. Mamma Mia = a major 2nd, Hey Jude = a minor 3rd, etc. Use whatever works for you. :slight_smile:

It’s not so much about playing songs that use these intervals. It’s about recognizing them when you’re transcribing, and hearing them in your mind so you can reproduce (sing) them.


Oh, I omitted the notes in the same way twice, good lord…
On my notes,

  • I played an E4, perfect fifth was A3, but sang a B3
  • I played a D#5, perfect fifth was G#4, but I sang an A#4

Don’t know how I managed to muck up typing them both but anyway…

Thanks for the song recs, I’ll noodle around with those familiar descending ones in different keys, it seems like a logical plan of attack. Cheers!

That makes sense. It happens to me too sometimes. What you’re basically doing is singing an ascending perfect fifth, but down an octave.

E4 => B4 (perfect 5th up) => B3 (octave down)
D#5 => A#5 (perfect 5th up) => A#4 (octave down)

You could use the same principle to practice the perfect 4th down. Imagine singing an ascending perfect 4th in your head and then sing it an octave lower.

E4 => A4 (perfect 4th up) => A3 (octave down)
D#5 => G#5 (perfect 4th up) => G#4 (octave down)

I sometimes do this for less common intervals that are wider or don’t have a song reference that I’m familiar with. E. g. when I want to sing a descending minor 7th, I imagine the ascending major 2nd and sing it an octave lower.

1 Like