#1
Hey guys! For the past 2 or 3 months I've been working on my interval ear training, and I've gotten to the point where I can get any interval within an octave right fairly quickly, with just a little work needed. (That goes for melodic intervals, harmonic can be a bit more problematic at times, but I'm working at it.)

One problem I've been having though is trying to establish chordal ear training. I'm working on major, minor, suspended and minor, major and dominant 7th chords. Generally the dominant 7th is quite obvious to my ear as it's pretty much the most unique chord in the group.

My question is more or less on how to approach chordal ear training. I think most people know that for intervals, you sing the two notes to establish the interval in your minds ear, does this also apply to chords? It seems it'd be quite tedious to sing each individual note of a chord ringing out at once to identify each one.

As I said, sometimes some of the chords are obvious to me and other times the exact same chord can leave me clueless! I think inversions are probably to blame most of the time though.

Thanks in advance for any help.
#2
>singing each note seems tedious

Unfortunately, that remains the best way for any ear training. Inversions can become confusing, that is why interval practice is so important--if you cant hear the quality of the chord, you can still sing its intervals from memory. My advice is to make sure you practice both ascending and descending, and that you try to sing up one chord and then down another.

Its a long process, so expect to be dealing with boredom and frustration from time to time.
#3
I don't so much mean the process of learning to be tedious, more so the actual process. The process of learning intervals seemed tedious at first, but I've gotten it to the point where I can get it pretty quickly. However, I imagine the approach for chords to be different, though I could be wrong.

I mean, say in a jam session if you want to quickly identify the chords someone else is playing, going through the process of singing each note would be quite inefficient (a better word than tedious to describe what I mean :P). But thanks for the reply man
#4
Quote by Tommat
I don't so much mean the process of learning to be tedious, more so the actual process. The process of learning intervals seemed tedious at first, but I've gotten it to the point where I can get it pretty quickly. However, I imagine the approach for chords to be different, though I could be wrong.

I mean, say in a jam session if you want to quickly identify the chords someone else is playing, going through the process of singing each note would be quite inefficient (a better word than tedious to describe what I mean :P). But thanks for the reply man


Ah, now I understand that. Well, truly, the only way to do what you want to do is:

1) Learn lots of songs by memory, and pay attention to the chords used. This will help your ear, but also help you to know intellectually what chords to expect in different styles of music, which makes you a much better "guesser"
2) Invest time in the more academic kind of ear training I mentioned

The thing about music is, the only way to do it is to just...do it

EDIT:

And dont feel as if you have to get everything right the first time, even on a jam session. Whats truly important is not if you guess the right or wrong chord, but that you recognize whether it was right or wrong after you played it. If you can do that easily, than its just a matter of time until your "guessing" becomes more and more accurate

And if youve tried and still can not figure it out, just ask what the chords are!
Last edited by bassalloverthe at Dec 30, 2013,
#5
Don't jump straight into 7th chords. Start with the four types of triad. If you can identify the three tones of the triad, the seventh will come a lot easier.

Singing before you play it helps a lot. For example pick a note on the guitar, say A. Now see if you can sing the major triad from that reference note, A. Now check you were correct by playing A-C#-E.

Do this for minor, dim, and augmented triads.

A tip to recognise the sus chords by ear is that the suspension wants to resolve to the 3rd. So learn to recognise how a 4th wants to fall by a semitone. But a 2nd wants rise two semitones.
Last edited by mdc at Dec 30, 2013,
#6
I've done a lot of interval ear training as well and can recognize most intervals with 100% accuracy, but so far I haven't found any use for it. During improvising, I don't need to think of intervals. I just kind of hear the note before I play it (and did before I even started interval training)

I could always find melodies by ear really fast and even in real time while listening to a song without even knowing what a perfect fifth sounds like. I guess memorizing intervals really well would be useful if you wanted to write music without using an instrument or something.

I think I'm just gonna forget about it altogether and focus on stuff that seems to be actually useful.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Dec 31, 2013,
#7
Im hardly an expert but i agree with the above poster based on my experience. I think its important to have a goal. Ear training is useful but its important for it to have direction. If your goal is to play pop rock songs by ear, then perhaps you're going about it the wrong way. I spent months using interval trainers using easy melodies to remember intervals, i spent a long period of time using the functional type ear trainer where you sing up/down to the tonic, and even some time recognizing maj/min/dim/maj7 chords etc, but none of this ever seemed to transfer to what i was doing, even after i "completed" whatever the course was.

Im sure of this because I was just as bad at transcribing before all that, as after - add to this that probably all of the major guitar hero's and anyone who learned guitar before 1999 learned to do it without the aid of computer programs and mass produced money scheming programs. The ONLY thing that has improved my transcription skills, is transcribing itself, lots of it, either playing along to a record, or noodling out melodies from memory, which doesnt seem to make much sense but there it is.

That said, what mdc said holds alot of water with me i think. Not because i think an academic/systemic approach is the best when it comes to improving your ears, but because SINGING notes is probably the quickest way to connect your ears to your guitar/mind, it was that way for every little game or whatever - and unfortunately its something alot of people hate doing.


on another note, I wish one of the moderators, or one of the veterans of this site would STICKY an ear training thread, its something MANY people ask about, and lots of answers get repeated, its just as convoluted a subject as modes or scales or another subject where theres 15 roads to the same place. A wall of text on the subject, and some anecdotes could be helpful to many people. would be nice to know why its so difficult to find a system that works for everyone, even if it means 200 unnecessary steps for most people.
Last edited by blunderwonder at Dec 31, 2013,
#8
You're biting off more than you can chew. start off with just basic major and minor chords, and work your way up.
#9
Quote by blunderwonder
The ONLY thing that has improved my transcription skills, is transcribing itself, lots of it, either playing along to a record, or noodling out melodies from memory, which doesnt seem to make much sense but there it is.


Same here man! I learned to do it by doing it. I never really understood why I would want to memorize intervals, but because everyone said it's important I gave it a go anyway and practiced it for a few months.

Now I can recognize and sing pretty much all intervals with 90% accuracy, but for what?! I don't use any of this information when I'm improvising, because it would only slow me down. I can anticipate and hear the next note in my head without paying any attention to intervals.

When I'm figuring out songs by ear I can find the melodies without any effort in a couple of seconds. I have tried transcribing WITHOUT an instrument and well, having these intervals memorized helped in it, but I found it so painfully slow and stupid to use 10 minutes for something that could be accomplished in a few seconds with an instrument (and also learning the fingering at the same time). I don't see a reason why I would ever need to transcribe anything without either my guitar or piano.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Dec 31, 2013,
#10
If you can't write or transcribe music without an instrument with you, than you aren't a musician.
Get at me.
#11
Quote by macashmack
If you can't write or transcribe music without an instrument with you, than you aren't a musician.
Get at me.

So despite having composed many songs (you can check my soundcloud if you want, link in the signature) and knowing how to play guitar and piano I am not a musician because I choose to transcribe with an instrument? HAHAHHAHAA, you're a funny man.
#12
Thanks everyone for the help! I think what's helped the most is the technique you described, mdc .

As for people discussing the use of ear training, I think it's definitely useful. Intervals are present in every piece of music you hear, so it can do nothing but help with transcribing those songs. Most of the basic intervals I've learned well enough so that when I hear them, I don't say "Hey, that's a major third!", but it's just an automatic knowledge I have and can be instantly applied to the instrument at hand.

Having said that, I remember a month ago on a bus journey I was listening to music and as an exercise, I took 3 solos with slow melodies and tried to identify the intervals between every note in the solo. It worked with 2 of them, the other proved problematic, but when I got home I only needed to find the first note of each melody and then I instantly knew how to play the rest!

So yeah, it's not as if interval ear training is the be all and end all, but it's definitely helped me out personally.

Edit: And as for writing music without an instrument, I think it's a stretch to say that you're not a musician if you can't do it, but it certainly helps you become a better and more versatile one.
#13
Quote by Elintasokas
I am not a musician because I choose to transcribe with an instrument?

Exactly.
Don't get me wrong, your sounds are nice on sound cloud. But if you can't transcribe music with just your ear at the same level as you can with an instrument, than you are limited by your instrument. A musician should be able to work with pure sound, not limited by any instrument.
Last edited by macashmack at Jan 1, 2014,
#14
Quote by macashmack
Exactly.
Don't get me wrong, your sounds are nice on sound cloud. But if you can't transcribe music with just your ear at the same level as you can with an instrument, than you are limited by your instrument. A musician should be able to work with pure sound, not limited by any instrument.


By that logic, in order to be a musician perfect pitch would be mandatory. I know the counter point to that would be that you can transcribe with computer software to match the pitches, but at that point you're using the software as your point of reference, or 'instrument'.
#15
Quote by Tommat
By that logic, in order to be a musician perfect pitch would be mandatory. I know the counter point to that would be that you can transcribe with computer software to match the pitches, but at that point you're using the software as your point of reference, or 'instrument'.

Nope. You can use a whistle as a reference note, and then use your ear for the rest of it. I personally use a my whistling, as I can only whistle one note, and it's an E. So I just use that as a reference note.
#16
Quote by macashmack
Exactly.
Don't get me wrong, your sounds are nice on sound cloud. But if you can't transcribe music with just your ear at the same level as you can with an instrument, than you are limited by your instrument. A musician should be able to work with pure sound, not limited by any instrument.

Yeah, I kind of agree with you. As Victor Wooten said - the music should come from the musician, not from the instrument. Though I'm pretty sure Elintasokas knows the sound. He just uses an instrument to get the sounds out quicker.

Most people still have an idea of what they want their song to sound like, even if they use an instrument to write songs. They don't play random notes and hope for the best result, they know what they want to say and they can say it (and moving your fingers in a scale shape is playing random notes). They may just get it out easier if they use an instrument. I always hear stuff first and then write it, at least when I come up with new ideas (though the idea may be inspired by a sound that I play). When I tweak my ideas, that's a different story. Then I may experiment with some more random stuff.

Though I think it's kind of too strict to say you aren't a musician if you don't write melodies by ear only. Not all musicians even write their own stuff or play by ear. Most classical musicians only play other people's songs from notation and may never even compose their own stuff. But they are still musicians. You don't need to be a songwriter to be a musician.

And I don't think it's limiting if you can hear all the sounds in your head and just need an instrument to get them out. Some people aren't good singers and don't know the notation. They may still hear everything in their head before playing it and that way their fingers don't control the music in any way. They just play sounds that the guitarist hears.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jan 1, 2014,
#17
Quote by MaggaraMarine

Though I think it's kind of too strict to say you aren't a musician if you don't write melodies by ear only. Not all musicians even write their own stuff or play by ear. Most classical musicians only play other people's songs from notation and may never even compose their own stuff. But they are still musicians. You don't need to be a songwriter to be a musician.


Yeah, it's a ridiculous claim to be honest. By that definition we would have VERY few musicians. In the end the only thing that matters is what you compose. You can use whatever method you want, but the result is the only thing that anyone cares about.

So if someone makes really good music (also musically good, theoretically, etc) that people enjoy, but writes his music using an instrument and also transcribes with an instrument, he's not a musician? Then what is the significance of being (considered) a musician? LOL.

I think macashmack's elitist attitude is pretty hilarious
Last edited by Elintasokas at Jan 1, 2014,
#18
Quote by macashmack
If you can't write or transcribe music without an instrument with you, than you aren't a musician.
Get at me.


Ahem.

Mozart evidently needed a keyboard to work out his musical thoughts. This can be deduced from his letters and other biographical material. For instance, on 1 August 1781, Mozart wrote to his father Leopold concerning his living arrangements in Vienna, where he had recently moved:

My room that I'm moving to is being prepared; -- I'm just off now to hire a keyboard, because I can't live there until that's been delivered especially as I've got to write just now, and there isn't a minute to be lost.

Konrad cites a similar letter written from Paris, indicating that Mozart didn't compose where he was staying, but visited another home to borrow the keyboard instrument there. Similar evidence is found in early biographies based on Constanze Mozart's memories.
#19
Lol ahem also. From wiki

Govan doesn't consider himself a guitarist but a musician, and states that the guitar is simply a "typewriter" for getting the message across. Due to his experience in listening to music and working out riffs, Govan states that he is often able to visualize playing in his head without even playing and said that he pretty much has all of the notes in his head before writing something or learning to play something to produce the sounds that he wants.
#20


I don't think I'm god. I just think it's better to be able to write without an instrument, so you can always be able to write down whenever something comes into your head.
Last edited by macashmack at Jan 1, 2014,
#21
Quote by macashmack


I don't think I'm god. I just think it's better to be able to write without an instrument, so you can always be able to write down whenever something comes into your head.


To be able to, sure. To force yourself everytime, no.

Always writing without an instrument just because you consider it to be the n00b way is not a good reason to write without one.

I personally get better results when I use an instrument. I initially hear something in my head and play it, but after that I will start to try different things with my instrument to see which sounds the best. And yes I also HEAR these things in my head before I play them, but the instrument is there to try and see how they really sound. Not using one is limiting yourself if you ask me!

After all what is the difference? I'm pretty sure you're gonna listen to the melody after you've written it in a notation program/DAW are you not? Why the hell wouldn't you? Just because you want to be so l33t h4x that you do the whole thing by ear without ever pressing that play button? Basically imagining it all in your head without ever listening to it with your ears.

Yeah, I understand how it makes sense if you don't have a computer OR an instrument nearby and just have a piece of paper or something, but that's pretty much the only case.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Jan 1, 2014,
#22
Quote by macashmack
If you can't write or transcribe music without an instrument with you, than you aren't a musician.
Get at me.


Never seen such flawless trolling. The thing is, your right! Thats why ear training is a mandatory part of every single academic music program. You little sh*ts shouldnt even complain, have you ever had to learn fixed do solfedge?

Also, Bach was able to dictate music to his sons on his deathbed, while he was too weak to write himself
Last edited by bassalloverthe at Jan 1, 2014,
#24
Quote by bassalloverthe
You little sh*ts shouldnt even complain, have you ever had to learn fixed do solfedge?

No, because that's a completely worthless system. Music is all about relative pitch.

UPDATE (to my earlier posts): I've transcribed several melodies by using solfege now and it is easier and faster than I had thought.... Still not as fast as using an instrument, though.

Damn, I just became a musician in 30 minutes!
Last edited by Elintasokas at Jan 2, 2014,