#1
If you're a beginner/intermediate player of any instrument, perhaps this story could be of help. I've played some harmonica and guitar occassionally for a few years now. What I always felt I lacked was the ability to listen to something and then play it by ear.

I did numerous trials on playing a lot of blues, and then transcribe blues songs. You know, listen to it, try some on the piano and then check for correctness by looking at some proper notes/tabs others had made. Many times what I got made sense from the perspective that is sounded okey, but the notes could deviate a lot from the original.

Tried an app
So I tried an Android App called "Perfect ear". Hear you can do an exercise where you hear an interval and then are to select a correct answer. I sat with it for a few hours and got maybe 60-70% correct answers, but it was still hard. It's similar to what Steve Vai recommends in an article:

http://www.guitarworld.com/ultra-zone-steve-vais-course-ear-training-part-2

Then I decided to try something that many had recommended but I was to terrified to try, singing. I have or maybe I had always hated singing. In school I would sit silent and suffer when we sung in the classroom, or at best mumble something monotonus. For instance Steve Vai recommends singing:

http://www.guitarworld.com/ultra-zone-steve-vais-course-ear-training-part-1

Then I went to singing
So I sat myself at a distance were nobody could hear me, otherwise I would probably get sued, evicted and perhaps exiled I thought. Then I tried to pluck a note on the guitar and sing it. On the first trial my voice simply failed, and sounded like some adolscent frog.

After some experimentation I found a register where I got some kind of constant tone. I adjusted my voice higher and lower, and was I surprised! It sounded like I actually succeded to double the guitar. I verified with a tuner app called "Da Tuner" and it really was the same note. I did it by plucking the guitar, sounding my voice simultaneously, holding my voice, silencing the guitar and then verifying with the app.

It was awesome, I felt like superman. I never never thought I could do it. For a moment a few days earlier I suspected I might be tonedeaf, but a government sanctioned online test proved oterhwise. And now I had done something that I always thought would be impossible at best.

From this I advanced to alternating between the root note and minor- or major second while plucking the guitar. Once in the while I stopped plucking the guitar but continued so sing the alternating notes, and then started plucking again to see that I had the right notes. Now and then I used the tuner app for verifications. After one-two hours I celebrated the progess with a beer and went to sleep.

First results
Next day I tried the "Perfect ear" app regarding minor- and major seconds again and I just nailed them , I got 100% without much hesiation at all! It was amazing, like the singing had brought forward an angle with a huge syringe with notes on it. Then the angle had injected this thing strategically into some sleeping neurons that never thought they would get a real task during their lifetime. Maybe the angle was so upset in his heavily rest, that he thought he better would inject some musicality in me to end his own suffer.

After having tried this exercise for about three days or something, I tried to get a few riffs from songs I like. And what do you know, I got them almost perfectly correct this time.

Then I picked up my harmonica. Earlier I always needed my tuner app to know for sure if I bent a whole- or a half step down. Suddenly I could hear at once where I was. Amazing. Simply amazing, it really really cant be a placebo or an effect from other exercises.

There must be some neurological connection between the ability to sing correctly and pitch.

Tying the intervals to well known songs
I continued with the exercise. My goal was to tie each singing interval to a song to make it even easier to remember. Here is what I've used so far:

Half step - Fur Elise
Whole step - Intro to The Wizard by Black Sabbath
Minor third - The Spoonful by Howlin' Wolf

What I want to say with all this
If you haven't tried singing for ear training, you should probably do it. Exactly how you should do it I don't know, but the method I describes above have worked for me all five days I've tried it .

I've already gotten amazing results and it would be a shame if anybody else would benefit as much as me from this, but misses the chance.
Last edited by SirSixString at Jun 26, 2014,
#3
Great post. I'm certainly going to try and emulate what you've done!
#4
That sounds great, but I really want to know from someone who has gone through intense aural training classes. Are they then able to actually hear a piece of music in context and actually pick out what is going on purely by ear and no instrument. How many people actually are able to do that after having gone through intense aural training classes such as 4 semesters at a uni, 90 percent, 80%...is it just something you have to have?

It seems great to pick out simple intervals by ear...but I am talking about picking things out in the whole musical mix on the spot...how many people actually get to doing that?
Last edited by Unreal T at Jun 27, 2014,
#5
I went through 4 semesters of theory and ear training in uni. The thing about uni... it's not what they teach, it's how hard you work. They kind of just force you to practice or you fail.
I can pick out what's going by ear without an instrument, but if piece is complex; lots of secondary dominants, changes in tonal centres, extended chords or inversions it takes many many listens. I can't do it in one go if that's what you mean by on the spot.
For ear training through singing I recommend these two books.
http://www.amazon.com/Modus-Vetus-Lars-Edlund/dp/0846441578
http://www.amazon.com/Modus-Novus-Lars-Edlund/dp/084644156X
#6
Quote by GoldenGuitar
They kind of just force you to practice or you fail.



That is not what I was hoping to hear. The last thing I need is to be forced under pressure to do something I love and have my love for it and view of music be distorted. It is just a psychological thing for me. I am not sure if that would happen...but I feel it may be possible.

Not sure how it would play out if ever took classes like that though...

I mean I believe what you say. I have been to uni (not for music) and it just seems like many students are too distracted by grades and loose sight of learning. It is not like the instructors have some sort of magic wand that they wave and you all of a sudden are better at aural skills. With all of the technology and excellent textbooks we have out today maybe one can just train themselves? Then again...the class may provide a solid structure to go by?
Last edited by Unreal T at Jun 28, 2014,
#7
Quote by Unreal T
That is not what I was hoping to hear. The last thing I need is to be forced under pressure to do something I love and have my love for it and view of music be distorted. It is just a psychological thing for me. I am not sure if that would happen...but I feel it may be possible.

Not sure how it would play out if ever took classes like that though...

I mean I believe what you say. I have been to uni (not for music) and it just seems like many students are too distracted by grades and loose sight of learning. It is not like the instructors have some sort of magic wand that they wave and you all of a sudden are better at aural skills. With all of the technology and excellent textbooks we have out today maybe one can just train themselves? Then again...the class may provide a solid structure to go by?

I didn't really see it as pressure, I was doing all my ear training during the one hour train ride I took whenever I went to uni. But the problem with uni was that things got exponentially more difficult. I was struggling by the last semester of ear training. But like music it's a thing you have to keep working on for life. You can never do enough ear training.
I was there for the learning and not for the grades, and after 3 years I still enjoy love composing and music. Currently in my honours year. The only thing about I don't about uni is that it's draining as they expect consistent output of music that well thought out in a short time period.
#8
Not sure if I should take some classes.When I am improvising I just sort of hear where I want to go in my head and I know what sounds I am looking for so I am pretty much satisfied. I always seems to feel like the class isn't going to do much for me, I do not know why. Maybe because I am just too stubborn, I am sure my ear could use "professional" lessons though.

How do they test you? Is it a one on one thing?
Last edited by Unreal T at Jun 28, 2014,
#9
I remember trying that app, used for about half a year, made no progress, then deleted it. And I can't be ****ed singing.
#10
And in regards to the ear training apps out there. If one takes a aural skills class and the instructor has you use some sort of software...WTF!? I wouldn't necessarily call that a good deal.
#11
There are two tests, the first one is with the entire cohort and the second one is one on one. Btw we never used software in aural training class
Last edited by GoldenGuitar at Jun 28, 2014,
#12
20Tigers, lodgi: Glad you liked it

Quote by Unreal T


I mean I believe what you say. I have been to uni (not for music) and it just seems like many students are too distracted by grades and loose sight of learning.


Amen.


Quote by Unreal T
With all of the technology and excellent textbooks we have out today maybe one can just train themselves? Then again...the class may provide a solid structure to go by?


True. The structure is still hard to come up with by oneself, as there is such a myriad of great information out there and hard to really know where to start.

I've learned most I know abouth playing instruments via Youtube and by reading, but I think it's absolutely necessary to check my skills with a pro every now and then. Sometimes I've felt that I've got something right, but really was out flying. And other times I've wanted to believe that I had the hung of something. Then I've tried to play it in a context with others, and realised that I really need to work those barre changes a lot more than I first thought, or something like that.
#14
Quote by ArtistLion
@SirSixString, did you learn to sing by yourself or did you take lessons?

I cannot sing at all, what I've learned so far is making two distinct notes with my mouth so to say

My goal is not learning to sing, but to improvise my sense of pitch. But perhaps lessons of some sort regarding only singing could be great.
#17
I guess what was remarked on earlier depends on the uni you go to... at least where I'm going, they worked a lot on methods to hear intervals and stuff. But yeah, singing to learn better pitch perception is certainly useful.