Is it just my lack of training and experience, or is it very difficult to read the intervals between the two clefs? Especially intervals of more than an octave like 10ths and 12ths. Can someone share a tip or way to learn these intervals more easily. Perhaps some kind of method for counting the intervals that can help me learn them quicker?

  • 1
    I don't want to make this an answer, because I don't want to copy-paste an answer, but seeing the bass and treble staves as a unified big staff with one ledger line in between, it might be easier to see what intervals and chords the notes form: music.stackexchange.com/questions/81915/… Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 14:19
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica - see a comment under my answer!
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 14:46

2 Answers 2


On the assumption you recognise and name each of the two notes involved:-

Let's take C below middle C, and E on the first line, treble clef. Imagine the top note dropped an octave, interval is M3. Add 7, to take the top note back to its original place, M10.

Same lower note, but top note is G♯. Drop G♯ down an octave, interval is aug.5. Add that magic 7, taking the top note back to original, interval is aug,12.

One more: same low note, but top note is B, middle line treble clef. Drop that one octave, the interval is, temporarily, M7. Add the magic number, making the initial interval M14.

All this, as you seem to know intervals up to the octave, according to the question.

  • So that’s how you do it! +1 @Armani another tip is to envision them is to think of both notes in a single clef but with ledger lines, for example a G in the treble clef can be thought of as 3 ledger lines in bass clef. Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 9:32
  • @Tim Does the math eventually dissolve away and are you at some point left with an isntant image of what the intervals look like between clefs? IOW, do you personally still think about it that way after many years or do you instantly recognize the intervals?
    – user35708
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 9:50
  • As it happens, I rarely 'do intervals'. They're of academic value only - to me - when playing, I never consider that the next note needs to be m7 from the last, etc. And intervals are note-name-dependant, so with students, we take our time to establish why it's, say, aug.4 and not dim 5. But, I guess, by now, most intervals are (almost) instantly recognisable. Knowing note names instantly means that task is easier.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 10:01
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    @JohnBelzaguy - it's maybe not how I do it! I probably use your method as well, imagining a 'master clef' of 11 lines, split evenly with the floating middle C ledger in between.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 10:04
  • @Tim, still, a very good suggestion, eliminate the octave to make it more recognizable. Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 10:10

Learn the the scales and chords at first. Then you can derive the intervals from the chords and the note names. From their function you can immediately identify which interval it is:

Adding intervals is different from adding numbers. Like two seconds are a third, a fourth and a third are a sixth, so you always have to count one less than in arithmetic addition: when adding an octave you add 7 (like Tim says).

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