#1
I've been playing guitar, on and off, for about 6 years now. But like most guitarists of my generation, I think I've overdone my technique and neglected my ears. My musical ear isn't terrible, but it's way worse than it should be. I'm also more mature now and don't care anymore about being able to play a million notes a second, and I have a new found appreciation for pop music, so all I want to do is be able to play and sing tunes, improvise, and write (I'm honestly happy where I am technique-wise).

I'm basically in the same position Paul talks about in the first half of this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVO1pv5Vf5w


So right now, musically, my ambition is just to get my musical ear as good as it can possibly get. I suppose you're just gonna say "practice" but I was wondering if you had any tips or specific exercises or programs. I really want to devote myself to this. I have Functional Ear Trainer and I'm gonna do that every day until I can ace it 110%. I was also thinking of learning every Beatles song ever by ear. Any other advice? Thanks!
#2
Transcribe and analyze a lot of tunes
Keep working with the interval ear training
Sing a lot of Solfège to train your relative pitch and ability to sing the notes in scales and sight sing melodies (sing notes on the sheet music in real time)
Train your ear to recognize chord progressions
Also you could do exercises like sing a line and then try to play it on your guitar relying on your relative pitch to find the notes
Last edited by Elintasokas at Apr 8, 2015,
#3
^Yep.

Sing everything you play.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#4
Biggest two for me were making sure your guitar is 100% tuned and intonated (even if your guitar is in tune to itself, having all the notes 20 cents flat won't help your ear) along with listening and making your own tabs rather than looking them up.
#5
I found interval training to be not that useful, but YMMV. (that is to say, I was very good at solving interval exercises, but it was making no difference in practical application).

Here's my recommendation:

Start by transcribing melodies you know by ear on your guitar. Hunting and pecking is fine. A good source for this is stuff like christmas carols, nursery rhymes, and movie themes. This will be amazingly frustrating at first. That's okay.

Start using the functional ear trainer, which is a free download form miles.be. This was the thing that created the big leap for me.

Start transcribing more complex things, without hunting and pecking. I like the book "Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician" by Wyatt et al, but all it is, basically, is a series of transcription exercises that get progressively more complex, which you're supposed to solve away from your instrument.

You can't "cram" ear training. The best results generally come from working on it in 10-20 minutes sessions, as often as possible. Once a day, five times a week, etc. Accept that it is going to be hard and frustrating at first. At some point, the wax just starts to come out of your ears and it gets easier.
#6
I have a question about Functional Ear Trainer actually: should I use my guitar at all when doing that? Like, find the interval on my guitar before I press the button, or should it just be pure ears?
#7
Quote by WhiskeyFace
I have a question about Functional Ear Trainer actually: should I use my guitar at all when doing that? Like, find the interval on my guitar before I press the button, or should it just be pure ears?


Pure ears should be the goal. If it helps you starting out, i'd say bring the guitar. But as soon as possible you want to rely solely on your ears to figure that stuff out.

In addition to what have been said, i would recommend you find songs you like to associate different intervals sound with. It helped me a lot when starting out doing those kind of exercises and when i started doing heavy transcribing on a daily basis.

What i am speaking of is finding songs you know that have a very obvious interval in them. For example twinkle twinkle little star, the interval between the first and second twinkle is a perfect fifth. Or for a major second you have Happy Birthday, "happy birthday to you", "birth" is a major second. Try and find songs you know really well that have all different intervals in them, this will help you a lot.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Last edited by Sickz at Apr 10, 2015,
#9
Quote by Jet Penguin
...Sing everything you play.
Unless it's shawn Lane ....or Tal Farlow!
(what like you can? I think trying to imitate the Lyre Bird could be less challenging )
Quote by The Bacon Man
...making sure your guitar is 100% tuned and intonated (even if your guitar is in tune to itself, having all the notes 20 cents flat won't help your ear)...
I have found this not to be a major contributing factor, after all we're not dealing with Raga. No offense intended TBM, just voicing (lol) my experience offering TS another perspective!

@WhiskyFace:
When I really get stuck I listen using different mediums;
ie: Sound System Speakers vs Head Phones vs even listen back through naked smart phone speaker... has particularly helped me personally with chords, and sometimes even hearing lines that weren't previously apparent. (yep, even after Audacity and MP3 Karaoke). True Story: I have even turned the volume up a little more, and listen from another room (does have it's merits).

For fast runs I usually start by listening for the peaks and troughs, and tell telling flavour characteristic notes;
ie: If you sprint up/down Aeolian a couple octaves, and then do the same with Dorian, you should definitely hear the difference.

BIG TIP!! CHEAT!! (look up tabs, scores, youtubes etc...)
I've lost count how many times I've seen something in a TAB and the penny has dropped for an array of preconceived notions... Look at the Rhythm Sections to a lot of GNR songs, no wonder you were never gonna get that 'exact' sound from just one guitar!

And it can be quite self confirming looking up a TAB, only to find your version is closer to the bulls eye:

(at the cost of showing off): I recently looked up TABs for Coldplays Midnight.
All 5 versions IMO have the pulsing intro chord wrong.
Here's mine: Db6(no 3rd) 9-x-x-13-11-9 (you be the judge), personally I prefer mine (but I would say that).

And when I work things out, I am constantly surprised at what new things I'll discover in the process, for example in continuing to transcribe (well my version anyway) Coldplays Midnight, I discovered a really nice chord I had never played before:

In the dark...
x-1-x-3-2-4

...ness. be...
x-x-1-1-2-4

...fore the
4-x-x-3-1-4 nice huh?

dawn.
2-x-(4)-3-2-4

Last resort: Just leave it and come back to it later (sometimes much later), sometimes we swamp our ears with a particular sound and everything just blurs into one.

Anyway hope it helps?
Last edited by tonibet72 at Apr 10, 2015,
#10
Quote by The4thHorsemen
um, slight correction - happy birthday would be up and then down a major second to would be the 4th


You are completely right, i must have been too tired when writing that. Only shows that i should follow my own rules of not giving advice at night.

Fixed.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#11
A lot of people don't recommend using the song association method. At first it's good, but eventually it's too slow if you have to think of the song every time.
#12
Quote by Elintasokas
A lot of people don't recommend using the song association method. At first it's good, but eventually it's too slow if you have to think of the song every time.


Oh, i agree. Eventually you want to just hear a sound and think of the interval, but ear training is one of those things that can be very hard to start off with, so having something familiar to aid you will help a great deal.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#13
Quote by Sickz
Oh, i agree. Eventually you want to just hear a sound and think of the interval, but ear training is one of those things that can be very hard to start off with, so having something familiar to aid you will help a great deal.

Yeah, agreed.
#14
Quote by WhiskeyFace
I have a question about Functional Ear Trainer actually: should I use my guitar at all when doing that? Like, find the interval on my guitar before I press the button, or should it just be pure ears?


Pure ears. Definitely.

Oh, one more thing.

When you're struggling to transcribe something you know by heart, singing it can help, but sing it on ONE VOWEL SOUND.

eg., if I was transcribing the Superman theme, and getting stuck, and was singing it, I wouldn't sing:

Di-di-di-duh-di, do-de-di.

but rather

Di-di-di-di-di, di-di-di. Except, you know, varying the pitch.

Changing the vowel sounds can confuse your mind while you're learning, and make things more complicated than they need to be. When you have an untrained ear your mind will substitute a different sound for a change in pitch, and obviously, your guitar doesn't have different vowel sounds.
#15
^ Or sing it with the solfege syllables.

If the melody goes scale degrees 1-5-9-7-8

You sing: Do - Sol - Re - Ti - Do

That way you definitely know which scale degree you are singing and it will be easy to transcribe. Also you associate the scale degree/interval with the solfege syllable.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Apr 10, 2015,
#16
To get "god ears" you have to go to the Himalayan Mountains.

There is a monastery there that will teach you how to get "god ears".

It takes a long time though. 30 years of study. The first ten years they don't let you hear anything so you purify your ears.
"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. This is my religion." -- Abraham Lincoln
#17
it's simple if you're a beginner in transcribing just start out with figuring nursery rhymes out by ear. Then proceed to move on to simple solos, and simple riffs, and also while transcribing simple chord progressions. I think it's great to get into ear training.. I like to call the ear for music as having "musical intuition". When transcribing records my fingers automatically fall onto the right notes I hear instinctively.


Same with transcribing chords, and what not the better your ear is the better your musical intuition is. It's just like learning a new language at first what comes out of your mouth might sound like gibberish, but as you progress within whatever language you're learning you get better at being more articulate with it. If you hear a sound in your head your fingers instinctively fall towards the notes. There's just too much benefits to list for ear training, but composing, and improvising are two of the best things about it.


I believe to truly become one with the instrument you need to have highly developed ears. The better your ears are the more confident you are about playing your instrument of choice so to speak.