When I was doing ear training, I found it's very difficult for me to distinguish some P4 and P5 intervals (harmonically), mostly around C3 or lower. For instance, if a perfect fifth, C3 and G3 are played simultaneously, it sounds more like C4 and G3 to me, which I think would be a perfect fourth. It seems difficult for me to hear the fundamental tone of C3, however I'm more sensitive to its overtones.

For higher notes this won't be a problem. Nor if it's a melodic interval (i.e. notes are played one by one).

What might have gone wrong with me? I use the "Complete Ear Trainer" app by the way.

4 Answers 4


I don't think anything has gone wrong with you. Perfect 5th and 4ths both have an open, pure sound to them. Try isolating and distinguishing between the notes being played. Maybe pick the top note as that would be easier to catch. Then sing down to the bottom note. It should be easy to recognize going down a 4th (if it's C4 to G3). Also, the perfect 5th sounds a bit more stable and full than the forth. With practice you will be able to differentiate between the fundamentals and the overtones.


As already mentioned, P4 and P5 are inversions of each other. as in C>G=P5, G>C=P4. So they will sound similar in isolation. Intervals are named from the lower to the higher note, so you need to try to determine which is which, and concentrate on the lower.

Listen to the intro of 'Chasing Cars', that's the P5 interval. Listen to 'Auld Lang Sine' beginning, it's P4.

They're both 'firm' and hard sounding intervals - used by piano tuners, which doesn't help you, but does them! The lower the notes, the more muddy the sound, so hearing each separate rather than both simultaneously will help.It also may be that the speakers/headphones you use don't produce a clear enough sound at the bottom.


Invert a Perfect 4th (put the bottom note on top) and you get a Perfect 5th. And vice versa. Sounds like you're having trouble perceiving which octave each note is in. Do you have the same trouble when listening to a real instrument like a piano, or just with this 'app'? Computer sounds and computer speakers can confuse the issue.


I think the advice they give you above is good. But in any case, I just wanted to ask whether you sing the notes or not. If you don't you will find that singing the notes helps a great deal. Singing helps you internalize the interval so later you won't have to do it bc you will hear it right away but at the beginning it will help. It took me a while to distinguish P4 and P5 from one another too.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.