Ear training

From Academic Kids

Ear training or Aural training is what musicians do to improve their ability to identify the sounds of different chords, intervals, rhythms, and other elements of music. Singing plays an important part in ear training, since one must be able hear music in one's head and match pitch before it is possible to sing it reliably. One does not need absolute pitch to succeed at ear training; one goal of ear training is the development of relative pitch.

Contents

Interval recognition

Interval recognition is a crucial skill for musicians: in order to determine the notes in a melody, a musician must have some ability to recognize intervals. Some music teachers teach their students relative pitch by having them associate each possible interval with the first two notes of a popular song. Here are some examples:

In addition, there are various systems (including solfege, sargam, and numerical sight-singing) that assign specific syllables to different notes of the scale. Among other things, this makes it easier to hear how intervals sound in different contexts, such as in different keys, or starting on different notes of the same scale.

Chord recognition

Complimentary to recognizing the melody of a song is hearing the harmonic structures that support it. Musicians often practice hearing different types of chords and their inversions out of context, just to hear the characteristic sound of the chord. They also learn chord progressions to hear how chords relate to each other in the context of a piece of music.

Rhythm recognition

One way musicians practice rhythms is by breaking them up into smaller, more easily identifiable sub-patterns. For example, one might start by learning the sound of all the combinations of four eighth notes and eighth rests, and then proceed to string different four-note patterns together.

Another way to practice rhythms is by muscle memory: basically teaching the rhythm to different muscles in the body. One may start by tapping a rhythm with the hands and feet individually, or singing a rhythm on a syllable (e.g "ta"). Later stages may combine keeping time with the hand, foot, or voice and simultaneously tapping out the rhythm, and beating out multiple overlapping rhythms.

Keeping accurate time is a crucial part of rhythmic training. For this task, a metronome is a valuable tool.

Transcription

Music teachers often recommend transcribing recorded music as a way to practice all of the above, including recognizing rhythm, melody and harmony.

Further reading

  • Essential Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician by Steve Prosser, ISBN 0634006401
  • Ear Training for Twentieth-Century Music by Michael L. Friedmann, ISBN 0300045360

External links

  • additional intervals (http://www.mainliners.org/intervals.shtml) with examples from popular songs, both going up and going down.
  • good-ear.com (http://www.good-ear.com) The Online, Free Ear Training on the Net.
  • GNU Solfege (http://www.solfege.org) is a free ear training program that runs on many operating systems. See also GNU Solfege.
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