#1
So im starting to learn music theory and all that and i was wondering if theres an easy or at least a certain way used to learn what notes are which.
#2
Yes, an Ear Trainer.

you can find some online, just Google it.

Having a keyboard/piano handy helps too.
#4
pwrmax, you sir are correct. I use that site to study for my musicianship and music theory classes at university.

However, I think he is asking how to determine what is an A, that or what notes are what on the fretboard (I assume he is playing guitar).

And to answer the first interpretation, technically there is no "A," we call notes how we call them just to give them a name. We use the equal tempered tuning system so that every key is identical sounding to the next, so each note can "sound" like another note.
However, it is possible to learn each note. This is called pitch retention. It would be a form of learned perfect pitch.
To do this you simply buy a tuner that emits a sine wave of every note (should be 12 in western music). It should take a week to a week and a half, if you are on top of it.

Now, if this is not what you were asking, and were really asking which notes are what on the fretboard, the only answer is you just got to learn them. Remember that on the twelve fret, they begin to repeat again.

But to learn more theory, definitely use Ricci Adams music theory website. So good.

One more thought arises... do you mean which notes are what on a staff? Again, just memorization (as is with most music). But, everything has a cheat with memorization, and then through repetition of this cheat you begin to know what it is. Like math with 2+2=4. No thought.
#5
Quote by mrddrm
pwrmax, you sir are correct. I use that site to study for my musicianship and music theory classes at university.

However, I think he is asking how to determine what is an A, that or what notes are what on the fretboard (I assume he is playing guitar).

And to answer the first interpretation, technically there is no "A," we call notes how we call them just to give them a name. We use the equal tempered tuning system so that every key is identical sounding to the next, so each note can "sound" like another note.
However, it is possible to learn each note. This is called pitch retention. It would be a form of learned perfect pitch.
To do this you simply buy a tuner that emits a sine wave of every note (should be 12 in western music). It should take a week to a week and a half, if you are on top of it.

Now, if this is not what you were asking, and were really asking which notes are what on the fretboard, the only answer is you just got to learn them. Remember that on the twelve fret, they begin to repeat again.

But to learn more theory, definitely use Ricci Adams music theory website. So good.

One more thought arises... do you mean which notes are what on a staff? Again, just memorization (as is with most music). But, everything has a cheat with memorization, and then through repetition of this cheat you begin to know what it is. Like math with 2+2=4. No thought.

WTF are you talking about? Of course there's an A. In fact there are many A's. For example, open 5th string in standard tuning is known to guitarist worldwide as an A.


TS, a good way to learn what notes sound like (other than using an ear trainer of course) is to just play them and get used to them. Learn intervals and it will be a lot easier. Sooner or later you will be able to just tell what the note is.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#6
I am talking about the fact that in equal temperament tuning we may as well call an "A" whatever we want to. It's just a sound, because all sounds are equal, therefore, they sound identical. In a strictly theory based statement.
But, as I said, you can retain the pitches, since we do generally use A=440 in North America.

So, for example, that 5th fret on the low string could be noted as anything, and with the timbre differences between that and the open string right next to it, they might as well be different notes.

Again, this isn't a concept that most people get. It is like how you could, in theory, call anything you wanted to. Like I could call my computer a gazuck. It's just a name. With musical notes it is one step further, especially in the tuning system we are in (which is my main point). Every scale is identical, therefore, every note is equivalent. Were we in a different tuning system like well temperament, then yes, each note would be it's own value.
But we are not.
What I will say is that there is scale degrees ^1 through ^7 (because the octave is a repeat of ^1)

Read up on it. We haven't been using this tuning system forever, so the way we play music today is substantially different than back in the day. The only thing that remains consistent is the theory behind it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_temperament
#7
Listen to them

Over and over
Tick tock and waiting for the meteor
This clock is opening another door
#8
Quote by mrddrm

However, it is possible to learn each note. This is called pitch retention. It would be a form of learned perfect pitch.
To do this you simply buy a tuner that emits a sine wave of every note (should be 12 in western music). It should take a week to a week and a half, if you are on top of it.

That's not learned perfect pitch, that *is* perfect pitch. For a person to be able to do that in 1-1.5 weeks, they would have to already have perfect pitch - the 1-1.5 weeks would be them learning to put names to notes that they already recognize by pitch.
Perfect pitch is usually something that you are either born with or develop during early childhood. People are unsure about whether you can develop perfect pitch as an adult or teen if you don't already have it. There's some evidence you can with years of effort, but it's inconclusive.
On the other hand you can develop relative pitch at any point in life (but again, months/years of effort to get good at it). Relative pitch is being able to recognize the interval between two notes. So if you play an A and then a C, I could tell you that they are a minor third apart because I have relative pitch. But if I didn't know that the first note is an A, then I couldn't tell you for sure that the second note is a C because I don't have perfect pitch - it's the distance between the notes I'm able to recognize, not the notes themselves.
Relative pitch is what most musicians have, perfect pitch is pretty unusual. You will do just fine if you develop your relative pitch if you don't have perfect pitch.
Some people who don't have perfect pitch, can develop something like it by becoming extremely good at relative pitch. The idea is that with a lot of practice, you can develop perfect pitch for just one note, lets say C. Then with lots of practice, you can recognize other notes by themselves by imagining the interval between them and your internal C that you have in your head. As you can imagine, that would take a lot of practice.
#9
mrddrm you are kind of right about the whole there is no A thing, but currently the standard 440hz is A. A couple hundred years ago their A compared to ours would not match. If you are trying to learn current pitches, then yes there is an A.

but to answer the question, the only way to really be able to recognize pitches is to listen to one pitch (note), and sing that pitch. Something like 15minutes a day, then do it with two pitches. The thing is since we've heard so many different A's like mrddrm said, it is very hard for us to hear these tones in music. Although singing is going to be the strongest way to be able to do this. But if you want to transcribe music, start practicing that.

Relative pitch can help like what other people have said, you hear a melody you find where the melody starts and you can figure the rest out from knowledge of intervals.

Constant practice is required, you might find yourself hearing C all the time, but if you don't keep practicing you'll forget it shortly after you stop practicing. Relative pitch stays with you because you can easily hear the distance and relation between notes.

Hope all that is clear and helps!

Did I mention how important it is to sing? Sing along with melodies and solos trust me!
Last edited by 1mmpick at Jun 5, 2010,
#10
Nonsense to being too difficult to learn pitches.
The 1-1.5 weeks is if you really drilled it, every hour on the hour. And that time would be for one individual note. This could be considered impossible to some, but really it isn't too hard... I have "A" down. And I know many other musicians who have at least "A" down because of tuning purposes.

And then, there is the difference between movable "do" and fixed "do" where you can identify pitches based upon which sound it is in the fixed do system; however, most places teach movable do for quicker results with dictation and so on.

And to further push my point that it is possible to match pitches, my musicianship teacher can do it and he was not born with perfect pitch.

Again, another point is that think of your favourite song or piece, I bet you could sing it if you wanted to. This is, essentially, learned pitch, but over a larger scale.
So, using the above point of memorizing songs, you shrink that to a specific note.

But again, you'd have to drill this, and it wouldn't be as fun as listening to a song or a piece, and finally, most people don't have the time or don't want to bother doing it.

Now, the only thing I am unsure about in all of this is how long it stays with you, which you make a point about, 1mmpick. My musicianship teacher claims once you get it, you have it (he equates it to riding a bicycle).
I'm suspicious that you'd surely have to keep up with it somehow to keep it... but then again, once you learn to ride a bicycle and you stop for a while, and go back to pick it up, it may be a little difficult at first, but you can ride it again rather quickly.

And yay for bringing up singing! Singing is indeed the most important thing in learning music.
#12
Mrddrm, yeah you don't use the hearing qualities of tones, but this is where things get tricky to talk about because like someone else said, science doesn't know to much about it. Once you learn to identify the notes you don't lose that, but they will not stick forever. You can relearn it much easier than before though. So your bicycle analogy works, you don't forget it's just something you have to get use to again.

Sounds like you've read some of the book "This is your brain on music". But yeah they guy that wrote that book said that he had done a study on people singing their favorite songs. And surprisingly most could sing close to the pitch and close to the tempo of the original song. That is some sort of proof of everyone being born with "perfect pitch" but I guess it's more tonal memory. However most people sang completely different when they did tunes like happy birthday unless someone gave them a tone to start off of. Which means we all have internal relative pitch as well.
#13
I would like some tips on getting better relative pitch. If you (mrddrm) have any good layout or plan for that week and a half of learning I would really love if you could send me some tips cause I would love to (over the summer) work on my pitch hopefull forming some type of perfect pitch. unrelative statement: My best friend who is 14 has perfect pitch and it is annoying because he can create guitar riffs in any key that he needs in his head.
Last edited by RGmusic at Jun 5, 2010,
#14
Quote by mrddrm
Nonsense to being too difficult to learn pitches.
The 1-1.5 weeks is if you really drilled it, every hour on the hour. And that time would be for one individual note. This could be considered impossible to some, but really it isn't too hard... I have "A" down. And I know many other musicians who have at least "A" down because of tuning purposes.

And then, there is the difference between movable "do" and fixed "do" where you can identify pitches based upon which sound it is in the fixed do system; however, most places teach movable do for quicker results with dictation and so on.

And to further push my point that it is possible to match pitches, my musicianship teacher can do it and he was not born with perfect pitch.


Why don't you research it, then? Google "perfect pitch" or "absolute pitch", and post links to ANY reputable study where it was shown that you could take students that you could demonstrate did not have perfect pitch to begin with and train them to have perfect pitch in a week or a week and a half.

This is not to say that what you're doing won't help your pitch recognition, so I'd definately keep doing what you're doing.
#15
@se012101
http://www.pianofundamentals.com/book/en/1.III.12

Don't know if this is reputable, but seems like an interesting read. Going to bed shortly, so no time to read it, but from a quick glance, it seemed to support my view point that these are learned concepts and such... though I would doubt that people aren't born with perfect pitch considering I know one...

@1mmpick
Indeed it does seem the case, I've been volunteering at my old middle school with my old string teacher. I'm currently in university for music education, so it's the perfect place for me to kill some time before I get a summer job. I've learned a lot by observing. But anyways, the point of that long introduction is that my old string teacher has never put forth the effort to learn the pitches, but he says he picks up A from tuning everyone, but after a summer, it is gone.
But again, he has never spent time on learning and memorizing the pitches, so it's debatable if his observation that it is possible to learn pitches, but only if you constantly practice the pitches.

But no, I have not read that book. I'm just a music student so I'm learning a lot of these concepts, and it's pretty rad. I'll have to check the book out, though.
But to retort your comment that people sang in different keys, first, it's all relative haha. Joking aside... Seriously, my retort is that we all have a natural singing voice, in a specific key, I like C, F, and F#. I tend to gravitate to one of these. Probably because I am a tenor and I speak naturally at my lowest note (a B4, I believe... I may be wrong, I get those numbers mixed up still...). So I would naturally sing hapyp birthday in one of those instead of Dmajor (I think it was written in D... D or C, but you can play it in whatever...)

But you bring up excellent and interesting points. I agree with everything you've said.

And, finally,
@RGmusic
Since I'm interested in becoming a teacher, I'm really into practice techniques (if only I did them, now, hahha....)
To potentially learn pitches, or rather, have tonal memory, you begin with any note. Now, every time you pass a keyboard or a guitar, or anything that can emit that note, you play it, think about it, maybe hum it, and go on your way. This is the easy way, but more time consuming. You have to do this constantly. The idea behind potential pitch/tone retention is to really drill it in there.

An alternative is to buy a tuner and practice it that way. This is the method I was using to learn A, and it's more or less accurate still. For some reason my voice is naturally off by a half step to a quartet step (often the quarter). But I suck at singing still. But I can sing an A and be close enough for relative concerns.

And yet another alternative is to just hit random notes on an instrument and match them singing. This works best in combination of the above and aids in visual learning, if you are a visual learner. It also aids singing for you are matching the pitches with your vocal chords which in turn help you remember the pitches in your noggin. Yay for snowballing!

This last thing is actually just a good way to practice pieces/songs in general. You play the song and sing along with the melody or bass line or whatever, and then you sing it without playing. This aids in memory retention and preventing repetitive stress disorder from playing the same thing over and over again.

Sorry this is a big jumbled, but it's midnight... and I'm a wee bit tired. And don't be jealous that your friend as perfect pitch. Honestly, us regular folk are better musicians. We have to learn how everything works, musically, and with that, get a more solid foundation in music theory.
I believe I mentioned somewhere I have a friend who has perfect pitch. He also wants to become a teacher. His major fear is that he won't be able to explain certain things because they come naturally to him. A huge problem for him.
And if you want to be able to make music, pitch recognition is not the way to go. Maybe if you were transcribing something, but there are ways around that.
In order to make music, I would highly stress learning at the very least basic theory.
I know, there are people who poo-poo theory, stating it stifles creativity. I beg to differ with this analogy (I'm just full of them):
Music theory is to language. You write in both, and the more you know about how they work, the better you can write. The more you can express yourself.
Weird, right? I used to be anti theory back when I was in high school, and then, one day, it just sort of clicked, and I was all hippy towards theory. I kid. But really, I learned that just having basic theory is bountiful.
This isn't to say that just knowing theory helps, because just like you have great writers of languages, you can also have just crappy writers.

But an excellent site to learn basic music theory on your own is http://www.musictheory.net/

Just go through the lessons and practice with the exercises until you can do them all with ease. And remember, everything in music theory has an easier way to learn and use! If you have any questions, feel free to ask. There are some great cheats in theory.
#16
^ Thanks for the link, man! Still not quite sure this is "proof" that you can do it that quickly, but that was very interesting and useful read, regardless.
Somewhat side topic - I had a former co-worker who had sound->visual synthestisia. The guy's absolute pitch was beyond amazing, I'm talking ceiling fans, lawnmowers, and knowing if his cat was hungry from the pitch of his meow. The downside was that he would freak out in restaurants and other noisy places because of the number of different pitches (colors to him) coming at him. He made it sound like an acid trip gone wrong. So definately a mixed blessing, for sure.
#17
Oh man, that's insane! Synthestisia is really, really interesting.
And no doubt a mixed blessing. As I think I said in here somewhere, us regular folk end up being better musicians because we have to go through all the technicalities, and by doing so, we understand it better than something just natural.

But I actually do agree with you, that 1 to 1.5 weeks per note/pitch seems abnormally quick, but it ultimately depends on how much you practice, like most things.
I also am somewhat hesitant to believe that once you have it, it'll be good forever. I'd have to imagine it's something you have to be using continuously to keep. Like any instrument skills, you have to practice to keep up.

It's definitely something I'm going to be doing whilst I go to university. And as I said, I have "A" down, more or less... I should refine it more, though. Well enough I can use relative pitch to tune an A string on my cello!
#18
Rhythm is an essential ingredient of music. A musician must know how to create alluring tunes and must possess the sense of rhythm.

A pianist can play the right keys but if the timing is not right, then music can be meaningless and unpleasant to the ear.

Here are a few ways to keep steady rhythms:

1. Loud counts!
Another way in learning rhythm and keeping track of it is counting out loud. Counting loudly makes our minds comprehend the rhythm pattern and it is imprinted in our minds. If a pianist begins to count the rhythm in a musical composition from one to four and then repeats it again and again, then the rhythm begins to flow into the keys of the piano, as well. A pianist can relate the notes to the beats, in the music scores, easily, when he/she keeps count of the beats.


2. Clap, Tap, catch rhythm!

A person can grasp the intricate musical rhythms by clapping one's hands, clapping on one's laps and by tapping one's feet. This is an effective way in learning rhythm. Sometimes the rhythm in a song, changes in the middle of the song. This can be challenging but a pianist or a musician can get back in rhythm by clapping or
tapping. When one plays on complicated music composition, one can take some time to clap and get back one's rhythm and timing.

3. Imaginary piano!

To get accustomed to the rhythms, playing on an imaginary piano is of immense help. A piano player can select a song and then play an imaginary piano. The rhythms can be played on an imaginary piano. This exercise allows a pianist to understand musical rhythm patterns better. A pianist who has learnt the art of playing on an imaginary piano can grasp the beats, even if the music slows down or speeds up and he can play on time.

4. Rhythm Accompaniment/Metronome
Do you have a keyboard that comes with rhythm accompaniment?
This is no doubt one of the best way to keep a piano player rhythmically straight!
You are probably aware that most piano player are solo player.
We don't get to play in a band or an orchestra. The best way to imitate an ensemble setting is by using a rhythm accompaniment tool.

Yoke Wong
Take Your Piano Playing To The Next Level
http://www.YokeWong.net