What Do Jaws, Beethoven, and Maroon 5 Have in Common? The Minor Second!
Updated: May 27
Lately, I've been spending a lot of time working with my piano students on ear training to prepare them for their spring exams. Step one in ear training is identifying intervals or the distance between two notes. I like to begin the process by isolating two intervals and learning to distinguish the difference. Today's interval is the minor second.
Here is the minor second. On the piano, it the distance to the very next note. One example is C–C#.
Now, the key is to identify the intervals in a musical context. I always find it fascinating how composers use intervals to create iconic motives and themes. With many of these tunes, all one needs to play is the opening interval in rhythm and the theme is immediately recognized. To aid in our study of music, I like to pull from a variety of musical styles. So, here's a list of recognizable tunes using the minor second.
Ascending Minor Seconds:
"Jaws Theme" by John Williams (Opening E–F)
"Pink Panther Theme" by Henry Mancini (Opening Melody: D#–E)
"Avengers Theme" by Alan Silvestri (D–Eb)
"Ode to Joy" from the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven (F#–G)
Descending Minor Seconds:
"Für Elise" by Beethoven (E–D#)
"Overture" to The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (D–C#)
"Flight of the Bumblebee" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (Opening E–D#)
"She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5 (Opening Eb–D)