I've always wondered what makes these particular intervals so difficult.

  • There was an awesome youtube video about this, but it's been taken down. Here is just the audio, in French with no subtitles.
    – rshallit
    Jun 10 '11 at 2:02
  • Because tritones hurt the ears? :-) (If not yours, more power to you!) Jun 10 '11 at 2:09
  • Funny, that. IMO it's because they stick out so much that they're so easy to remember. Also : blue note, Purple Haze, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and the tasty Lydian mode.
    – Pif
    Jun 16 '11 at 8:34

The augmented 4th / diminished 5th (aka tritone) is the furthest (enharmonic) note away both in terms of circle of fifths and shared harmonics so it is a very "distant" note.


They may not be as hard to sing if you think in your mind of their resolution. Try to think of the augmented fourth going to the 5th and of the diminished 5th resolving in the 4th, depending on the direction of the next notes.

  • Indeed. If you can sing the songs from 'West Side Story', you can sing a tritone. It's a common feature of all of them except 'I Feel Pretty'. Jan 13 '17 at 13:11

What makes these intervals so difficult to sing is that they are very dissonant. Dissonance is used all the time in music to set-up tension that will later be "released" by a consonant interval. Augmented fourths and diminished fifths (which are also enharmonic tones) are the two most dissonant intervals.


They aren't hard to sing at all. Sing the opening of 'Maria' from West Side Story. Tonic, sharpened 4th, 5th. (No need to argue over whether it's a #4 or b5 for now.) Easy, if you know the song. There's not nearly so much 'hard' in music as merely 'unfamiliar'. Ask a singer to perform an exercise based on octave jumps. They might make it sound difficult. Then ask for the first two notes of 'Over the Rainbow'. Easy, for the most elementary singer.

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