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Harold Demure View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ear training, recognizing intervals & melodies
    Posted: October 19 2007 at 04:17
I've recently started to learn intervals using this "ear trainer" .There's also a site where you can check your accuracy and check your progress.
I think this will prove useful to everyone who wants to improve his musical skills.

How long does it take to learn simplier intervals (lets say from unison to perfect 5th + octave)? I know that it's partly dependent on one's talent, but I'm curious how long did it take you, to compare it with myself.
Eg. After about 4 days of training on the "ear trainer" I got 90% accuracy from 200 intervals in the test I gave a link to (I chose only 2nds, 3rds, 4th, tritone, 5th and octave - unison is too simple, and the rest I haven't practised yet).

I'm not able to figure out the notes when I listen to music, but later, when I sing it to myself, after some time I can finally write it down in notes on a stave. I've been learning to play the guitar for more than 2 years and I'm sure that playing by ear, knowing intevals etc is vital.

Thanks for any advice and comments on this "ear training".


Edited by Harold Demure - October 19 2007 at 04:17
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2007 at 04:23
sounds like you have a pretty good ear.. intervals are of course easier than pitching notes cold (perfect pitch)..  I used to ear train for hours in music school.. it was something I could do well (as opposed to read music LOL )


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2007 at 04:41
I hate doing ear training I just did a paper on it at university, I've had no prior training in it which made it considerably difficult, I can pick up most major and minor intervals within an octave, but I dod struggle with minor and major 6ths and 7ths. I can work out if a chord is augmented or diminished, major or minor, I can do rhythms but I struggle with melodiess, I'm going to dedicate sopme of my holidays on it, our university has a programme called Auralia which is exclusive to Apple Computers, which helps with air training anyone heard of it?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2007 at 04:43
Well, I'm a bit surprised to hear that I've got a pretty good ear as for learning intervals, thanks anyway.
If we talk about perfect pitch, I think that if one didn't learn it as a child, or rather didn't keep his ability of perfect pitch, there's no point in learning it at all cost.
And what you write is a bit strange for me, bacuase I thought that when someone recognizes intervals well, he should also have no difficulty reading music... Or was that simply because you were a bit lazy and you didn't rememeber well that eg. between D and F there's a Minor 3rd, although you knew exactly how Minor 3rd sounds like?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2007 at 04:49
  ^ LOL  just lazy

..actually I've always been more of a 'by ear' player, so it makes sense I would be good with notes, tones and such, and not the mathematic part of music


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2007 at 04:49
Originally posted by Harold Demure Harold Demure wrote:

Well, I'm a bit surprised to hear that I've got a pretty good ear as for learning intervals, thanks anyway.
If we talk about perfect pitch, I think that if one didn't learn it as a child, or rather didn't keep his ability of perfect pitch, there's no point in learning it at all cost.
And what you write is a bit strange for me, bacuase I thought that when someone recognizes intervals well, he should also have no difficulty reading music... Or was that simply because you were a bit lazy and you didn't rememeber well that eg. between D and F there's a Minor 3rd, although you knew exactly how Minor 3rd sounds like?


No I'm fine reading music the difficulty with listening to a melody and writing it down, is that the lecturer wile only play the peace 4 times and the music would range between 4 and 8 bars, I could get difficult because we were expected to write the rhythme as well and all it takes is one mistake (eg  confusing a minor and major 3) to ruin the rest of the piece, also the music was played too quickly to give time to figure out the intervals. I will get better but it takes time, and I can't rush such a thing, this paper although hard as it was did give me the skils to start how to learn how to listen. I'm sure to pass it, it was all internal and I've got over 50%, but mastering it is a different thing all together.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2007 at 05:20
Good luck, then.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 05:09

My relative pitch is pretty good -  I rarely use an instrument when transcribing music, unless it involves particularly tricky non-diatonic stuff. I did practice, though. Once you learn to identify intervals by hearing them, you should learn to play them in your head , so to speak. You should know what a major 3rd interval sounds like without needing to listen to it. So play the starting tone, sing or hum the interval you need, then check  to see if you're correct. Eventually, you'll master it and be able to analyze and even write music almost entirely in your head.

Regarding absolute (perfect) pitch, that's quite an interesting phenomenon. I don't have it, and it seems unattainable, but there've been a lot of times I've played a key and  recognized it. Usually this happens by associating the key with the same tone used in a song you've heard/played a lot. For instance,  when hitting a D5 on the piano,
Joplin's The Entertainer springs to my mind, because that's the first note of that piece. So even if my eyes are closed and I've payed no attention to what I'm playing, I know that's a D. However, as soon as you concentrate on it, the effect disappears and the D becomes just another note. It's also happened with lots of other keys, and often where you least expect it : plucking guitar strings behind the nut, knocking a cup with a teaspoon, things like that. So the ability is definitely there somewhere.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 05:27
One thing the lecturewrs taught us to help recognise intervals were if they reminded you of certain songs eg:

minor second  - theme from Jaws
Major 2nd - Happy Birthday
Perfect 4th - Here comes the Bride
Perfect 5th - Falling in Love
minor 6th - theme from The Sting
minor 7th - There Is A Place for Love - from Westside Story
etc



Edited by Cheesecakemouse - October 20 2007 at 05:28
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 07:30
Pafnutij: Thanks for advice, and as for perfect pitch - I totally don't care to have one, I think it may be useful, still relative pitch is the most important thing, and if one doesn't already have perfect pitch, it's better when you focus on improving relative pitch. That's my opinion on it, although I agree that this perfect pitch "phenomenon" is exceptionally intriguing in itself.

Cheesecake: Yes, I also use this method. But I think that both descendind and ascending 2nds, are easy enough not to connect them with any particular melody. As for the rest, these are my sugestions for few intervals, some proggy :

Ascending
Minor 3rd: Deep PurpleSmoke On The Water
Major 3rd : VDGG - Waiting For Wonderland
Perfect 4th: Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express, Genesis - Dancing With The Moonlight Knight
Perfect 5th: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star , Scarborough Fair
Major6th: VDGG - Man-Erg, Genesis - I Know What I Like

Descending
Major 3rd: Yes - Close To The Edge (Organ Solo)
Perfect 4th: Camel - Rhayader
Major 6th: ELP - Trilogy ("I've tried to mend the love ...")
Octave: Genesis - I Can't Dance

A good melody for tritone (desc. and asc.), and descending Perfect 5th, anyone? Somehow I can't find a good melody... Can be prog rock.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 08:06
Originally posted by Harold Demure Harold Demure wrote:

Pafnutij:

A good melody for tritone (desc. and asc.), and descending Perfect 5th, anyone? Somehow I can't find a good melody... Can be prog rock.
 
"Black Sabbath" (the song) is the most obvious tritone riff. The Eagles' "Get Over It" has the descending perfect 5th in it's chorus line. Though I find this method a bit pointless.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 09:06
Thanks for examples, but why is this method pointless to you? Do you know a better one?

Or maybe you misunderstood me? The melody has to start with this particular interval and you have to be very familiar with it, and then if you want to "hear" the interval, you recall this melody and immediately you've got it. I don't know why would it be pointless, to me it helps a hell lot.

Edited by Harold Demure - October 20 2007 at 10:30
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 11:34
Originally posted by Harold Demure Harold Demure wrote:

Thanks for examples, but why is this method pointless to you? Do you know a better one?

Or maybe you misunderstood me? The melody has to start with this particular interval and you have to be very familiar with it, and then if you want to "hear" the interval, you recall this melody and immediately you've got it. I don't know why would it be pointless, to me it helps a hell lot.
 
If it helps you, then no prob. But intervals can sound differently depending on how they're used. The flat 5th (tritone) in "Sabbath" sounds evil, while in Smoke on the Water it sounds funky, because its used as part of the Blues scale. Though eventually you learn how scales, chords and then entire chord progressions sound, so that will sort itself out.
 
Another important musical ear skill: learn to pick apart harmony by "layers". Ever noticed how, if you hear a harmonized guitar line, you usually only hear the top part? But if you concentrate hard enough, you'll be able to discern the bottom part as well. Or hearing a chord and being able to hear each note individually.  It could be a bit difficult at first, but then it becomes much easier.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2007 at 12:00
OK, I'll try this, although I know it is a bit difficult. After all, learning music is about practising, practising, practising.


Regarding those 2 riffs you compared together - in "Smoke On The Water" there's simply no tritone, at least from my point of view.
Let's say it starts with A, then it's:
A - Unison, C - Minor 3rd from A, D - Major 2nd from C etc. That's the way I look at it.
Yeah, there's a tritone between A and D# which appears later, but these two sounds don't appear one after another, I use Smoke On The Water to recall how Minor 3rd sounds like.
A melody is only useful for me when it's first 2 notes are exactly an interval I'm looking for, so that the interval comes immediately to my head.



Edited by Harold Demure - October 20 2007 at 12:02
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 25 2007 at 03:04
Perfect pitch is a wierd thing - I have it, and certainly didn't learn it.
 
I was 6 years old, and, during a piano lesson, my teacher started me off on interval training.
 
He played an interval and asked me what it might be - I didn't really have the hang of intervals, and just said "C and G". He then aske me to turn my back away from the piano, as he thought I was looking at the keyboard, and repeated the excercise, making the intervals gradually harder, and working up to 4-note chords. I got nearly 100% accuracy (I got confused when there were seconds or augmented fourths in the chord).
 
I can pitch a note cold - ie, if someone asked me for a C, I could sing one without hearing one first. I've no idea how, I just listen internally for a second or two until I'm sure of the pitch, then sing it - and it's never wrong.
 
Despite sites that claim to teach Perfect Pitch - especially in the ludicrously short time of 6 weeks,  I do not believe it is at all possible to learn Perfect Pitch - or at least, the variant that I have. I've never met anyone that has actually learned to pluck notes out of thin air, or who can identify every note in dense clusters.
 
I've taught relative pitch to children during music lessons, and in my experience, there's no easy way of learning it - each child I taught required a slightly different method.
 
The relation to well-known tunes is probably the best - I used to start off relating the perfect 5th to the start of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", because every child knows that song and can remember how it begins. There are a number of other useful intervals in that song, and other nursery rhymes.
 
If you can relate intervals to songs you know well, then that is a gfreat way to learn them and memorise what they sound like - and hence develop relative pitch.
 
 
 
 
The important thing is not to stop questioning.
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