Ear training - any tips?

It's only cool if no one's heard of it.

Moderators: SecondTalon, Moderators General, Prelates

demon
Posts: 170
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:13 pm UTC

Ear training - any tips?

Postby demon » Sun Jul 29, 2007 4:22 pm UTC

Ok, so after a few years of playing the guitar I've decided that I seriously have to get my ears up to par with my hands or I'm never going to improvise well enough. I found GNU Solfege and I'm using that to train interval recognition at the moment. Also my friend suggested that I should try to sing intervals - just started doing that. I know there's no easy way through this but I don't want to miss something important during training. So any advice on how else I could improve my aural skills? Any drills that your teachers stressed as very important perhaps? Some particular learning order that you feel is important? Please share your experience and save me from a life of tone-deafness:D

Fluff
See You Next Tuesday
Posts: 1085
Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 6:27 am UTC
Location: The Departure Lounge

Postby Fluff » Sun Jul 29, 2007 4:35 pm UTC

Try forming associations in your head for each interval, such as the intro or chorus to a tune you know quite well, or the sound of a doorbell, or anything else you can think of.

For instance - Jaws theme = 1/2 step

User avatar
Gwydion
Posts: 336
Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2007 7:31 pm UTC
Location: Chicago, IL

Postby Gwydion » Sun Jul 29, 2007 4:49 pm UTC

Fluff's idea is a great one, it got me started too. (I always used Wherever I May Roam for my half-step.) Solfege is great stuff, too, though it never helped me with ear-training, more for reading music.

Another thing worth trying is just playing along with a song without any music in front of you. If you can sound-it-out, you eventually get used to how certain passages go, and they get easier to figure out as you go along.

The more you do it, the easier it all gets. I know it sounds clichéd, but it's true. Eventually, you don't have to worry about it, it just starts to come naturally. Best of luck to you!

saxmaniac1987
Can't spell sex
Posts: 825
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 6:58 pm UTC

Postby saxmaniac1987 » Sun Jul 29, 2007 7:18 pm UTC

EDIT: Now that I read your message again, I'd like to first start out by saying that you should definitely become proficient at written music theory... my message below kinda talks about written theory as an afterthought, but it is very important to understand exactly what is going on when you're listening. Forgive me if this doesn't characterize you, but I've known many guitarists who don't know much about music beyond tab. To improve all these things, a working knowledge of theory is (while intimidating)very crucial.



Solfege is a bitch to get good at, but once you get the hang of it things go well. My main advice is that in addition to identifying what you're hearing, work on being able to sightread simple things. If you're up for spending money... Look at Music for Sight Singing by Robert W. Ottman. It doesn't need to be the latest edition at all. Essentially its a spiral bound book of one and two line tunes, meant to help you with your sight singing skills. You'll find that ear training and sight singing both go hand in hand. To start out, using things you recognize to identify intervals works wonders. Eventually, however, those skills should be strong enough that you know them just by the solfege. (as in, you don't need to hum "Here Comes the Bride" every time you want to sing a P4. you just go Do - Fa). Also, once you get really good at things in a melodic sense (your interval knowledge is very strong), start working harmonically--piecing together the different chords inherent in western music. Learning the difference between a Mm7 and a mm7, etc. Though, I don't know your background in written theory. If you don't really know what i'm talking about with different chord qualities and all that stuff--work on written theory too. Moral of the story? Writing, listening, singing--they all work together. So balance practice of all three, focusing on the one or two that you need work on as well.

Good luck![/i]

demon
Posts: 170
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:13 pm UTC

Postby demon » Sun Jul 29, 2007 7:59 pm UTC

Thanks for the advice:)
At the moment when I'm totally lost I count seconds by singing out a scale, but that's crazy inefficient, so I'll probably look for associations, yeah. A half-step is actually very easy for me to catch (although sometimes strangely difficult to sing), but I'm sure there'll be no problem with finding meaningful ones for other interval.
I'm actually quite good at sight reading, I've played classical for about 3 years. I also did some theory recently - just a little, but it's plenty for what I need now. I don't have the basis - strong interval recognition skills, so I guess working on that should be my top priority at the moment. It's been a while since I desperately wanted to play something not coming from my head though, so I should do some playing along as well, only focusing more on what I am actually playing, not just blind seeking for the unison:)

Fluff
See You Next Tuesday
Posts: 1085
Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 6:27 am UTC
Location: The Departure Lounge

Postby Fluff » Sun Jul 29, 2007 8:02 pm UTC

If you can't remember a whole step interval, just sing one half-step up, followed by another half-step. Same goes for any of the others. It's all just maths at the end of the day!

demon
Posts: 170
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:13 pm UTC

Postby demon » Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:12 pm UTC

Well yeah, counting works, but it's so damn slow it's nigh useless for me. It is a way to practice though and so I'm using it - singing a scale and then jumping between a certain step and the tonic. Certainly won't harm me, though I don't really think it helps that much.

User avatar
Sandry
My cheese is pants?
Posts: 1893
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 3:36 am UTC
Location: Boston area
Contact:

Postby Sandry » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:22 am UTC

My first theory class I had a teacher who only taught us to sing by trying to do intervals between notes, and it made no goddamned sense. IMO the only time you should be sticking with that is when you get to atonal music.

That said, it is still useful to know intervals by songs when you *are* called upon to just randomly hit a note a minor seventh up from where you are... but sounds like you're already on that.

Single biggest helper for sight-singing - internalise your key. Always know where tonic and dominant are (one and five in the scale), and then you can sort of deal with the rest by their relationship to those two. If you're trying to go by interval and miss slightly, getting out of key, it's hard to ever get back in. If you're a little out of tune on one note, but then get back to an in tune dominant or tonic, you're back on your feet.

When starting to sightread a piece, I always go through an arpeggio of do mi so mi do so do. It's like grounding yourself.

We also did a lot of singing through chord progressions just to feel how things related... like I I3 IV I5 V I and whatnot. Helps with some very frequent patterns that crop up, plus is a decent warm up for singing in general.

Another good concept is to take a song you know and work out what the solfege would be for it. Feels really dumb while you're doing it, but it's a good way to sort of get both sides of the relationship.
He does not spout ever more, new stupidities. He "diversifies his wrongness portfolio."
(My pronouns are She/Her/Hers)

User avatar
Cuton
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:11 pm UTC
Location: Waterloo, Ontario

Postby Cuton » Mon Jul 30, 2007 12:15 pm UTC

If you're not completely opposed to it, join a community choir. Usually, towns have some mediocre choirs and then there's a few really good amateur choirs, find those and try to join. It may not be optimal, but singing is just about the best training for your ears. All my music teachers encouraged me to join/stay in the choirs I was in. I had started music by playing piano at a young age, but I hated it, so I went to boys choir, that was super fun and I got to be in the chorus for 2-4 operas and lead roles in musicals (I was an old lady once!). Later in highschool, joined the choir there (I went to an arts highschool, the choir won national championships in Canada...) all in all a great time.

If you know how to read/write music, try musical dictation. It's VERY hard, but it improves your interval recognition fast. Usually beginer/intermediate music theory books will have a cd with some dictation. Other people have already said solfege and such, those are all very good ways.

Cuton

invitapriore
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:46 pm UTC
Location: new york / st. louis
Contact:

Postby invitapriore » Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:57 am UTC

I can't believe this hasn't been posted, but I have the solution to all your woes.

http://www.iwasdoingalright.com

If you click the link on the left (ear training tool) you'll find a very complete app for internalizing intervals by repeated testing. Start with ascending melodic intervals (i.e., playing in sequence, not together) and begin with only two different intervals. When you are confident in your ability to distinguish them, move on to three. Once you have all of them down, do the same process over again with descending intervals. Once done, do the same again with harmonic intervals (played together). Once done with that, move on to chord identification. Once you've got that down, use the random melody generator to practice your replication of tunes on the guitar by ear. The former exercises will give you a good head start for the latter, and I promise that sufficient practice (a long road though it be) will improve your ear beyond what you ever believed to be possible. It worked for me. Cheers and good luck!

Also, if you'd rather use an app with more feedback, this website has interval and triad ear trainers that tell you when you're wrong and record your right and wrong answers:

http://www.musictheory.net

demon
Posts: 170
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:13 pm UTC

Postby demon » Fri Aug 10, 2007 8:23 pm UTC

inviteapriore: This site (i was doing allright) looks AWESOME, thanks a bunch:) I have a silly problem, however. I can't seem to get sound in java applets. I installed sun-jre-bin with nsplugin, X and alsa flags set (gentoo here). I have sound in flash and in movies run through mplayerplug-in. Only java's silent somehow. My browser of choice is epiphany, but it's gecko based so any mozilla-compliant hints are welcome:)

User avatar
SpitValve
Not a mod.
Posts: 5130
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:51 am UTC
Location: Lower pork village

Postby SpitValve » Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:52 pm UTC

invitapriore wrote:I can't believe this hasn't been posted, but I have the solution to all your woes.

http://www.iwasdoingalright.com


Awesome! You are the second name in Dave's Good Book.

Edit: Apparently I really do need training: seems I can't distinguish 4ths from 5ths even :D

Edit 2: I just said a perfect 5th was a major 3rd. How on earth do I manage to play music? meh..


Return to “Music”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests