Jump to content
Why become a member? ×
Account Security - Two Factor Authentication ×

Ear training (or aid!)


SamIAm
 Share

Recommended Posts

I now listen to more multigenre music, trying to focus on the sounds ... (and of course some thumping bass lines!)

 

In our band we use lead-sheets and I've managed to get to the point of sightreading root/3rd/5th (even some walks) without embarrassing us (as the only one in the band who has an amp .... every wee mistake is HEARD!  Thankfully f/x tech such as compression and loads of practice is helping)

 

Scenario One: At the end of a band practice, my very skilled bandmates will just break into song, J on his uke, D with her amazing voice, S with her amazing ability to do twiddly bits and so on ....

Scenario Two: I've been told that there is a monthly bass jam session not far from here that I would love to join

Scenario Three: I hear an amazing song on streaming and want to simply play along.

 

BUT, I pick up a bass and listen ... hard ... and then join in, and am only able to achieve acceptable notes about 3% of the time

 

When I arrange band songs I use tech like Chordify, a DAW, Lilypad, Chordpro, Musescore etc ... and eventually end up with a good result.  But this is all done in advance in the studio (OK in my case on my dining room table lol)

 

 Live jamming, recognising what notes/chords ... even the key .... of what is being played on evades me!

 

HOW does one develop this ability!?  Are there recognised approaches or is it ... "Sorry S'manth, if you were not born with this ability then ..."

 

As an intermediate crutch, does anyone know of something like Chordify but that runs in real time on a smartphone/tablet/laptop even?

 

I mean, when we consider the tech in tuners/chorus/octavers etc ... real-time recognition of notes/chords is obviously not beyond us ... I mean the Polytune can identify multiple notes!!!

 

 I am failing to locate either

a) A structured approach to learn how to recognise what is being played (if this is even possible) ... ear training I think it is called

b) Any app/gadget/etc that I could "cheat" with, which in real-time (or near real-time) would display what it hears and analyses through it's mic and throws this up on the  screen so I could at least get a bit more involved and maybe even develop an ear for.

 

My rhythmic sense is ... better than average, but I really struggle to hear/identify notes/chords/keys.  And when I watch the chord positions that my band mates finger ... well ... total fail for me!

 

Any experience/ideas much appreciated.

 

S'manth (frustated tone deaf it seems bass player) x

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) Listen.

2) Read.

3) Transcribe.

 

This is the most common way of learning to play something you have not played before. Even pretty complex sounding sentences can actually be pretty easy.

 

1) Try to find the bass from the mix and imitate the playing.

2) Go to a library, or study the stuff our dear fellow bassists have transcribed. There's tons of music. And it is free!

3) After you have learned to read, the ultimate step is to learn to write. Your computer background sure helps to learn this language of music. Try Musescore: you can write and listen to what you write.

 

I know you can do it.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) Listen to music you like to that’s already been worked out for you - where you have the chords already. Even better if the specific part is written down in something like Musescore where you can play it back. It helps you to relate what you’re hearing with what you’re seeing. 
2) Learn the common patterns of chord progressions. So many songs have at least in part elements that follow the cycle of 4ths (for example D min to G to C), or a 12-bar blues. Once you get used to hearing the pattern you will start to recognise it in music you don’t know. Do the same with individual chords - the simpler it sounds the simpler it is. More complex or unstable sounds point to more complex chords. This is an important skill because good chordal players will mess around with the voicing (order of notes low to high) to make the music sound better and your ear can sometimes play tricks on you.

3) Put the radio on a favourite channel (or another source of relatively random music in a style you like) and just jam. It’s painful at first but like any skill you get better

4) My experience of learning to hear harmony over just under 40 years is that I tend to hear the top and bottom - so the bass note and the top note in the harmony. This is liked decoding a problem - there are only so many combinations in between and if you follow steps 1 and 2 you should start to be able to decide them, for example a tritone has a very specific sound and often points to some kind of dominant chord, suspended chords are well named as they usually sound neither major nor minor.
5) This is the big one: anyone can get better ears. I used to teach pupils with learning difficulties and one student in particular has what could be termed “cloth ears”. It took quite a while but doing all of the above he got pretty good at 4-note and some 5-note chords. Yes, some may have a gift with good ears but never let anyone tell you can’t get better. It’s simply not true.

 

EDIT: or TLDR; read the post above! :)

 

Edited by FDC484950
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most musicians I know, started learning their instrument as teenagers. Once they started they became obsessive, practicing hour after hour, trying to get better. It takes a long time to hear if you're in tune or playing the right notes to the music you're trying to learn, as a teenager, for the first year, I couldn't even tune my bass properly (I had to get my guitarist to tune it before my first gig).

 

But I kept on going and going.

 

As adults it's difficult to conjure up that obsessive teenage streak.

 

Listen to simple, two, three, four chord songs and play along without notes.

 

And keep on doing it, again and again and again and again etc , etc, until you fall asleep with your bass strapped on, or  have to be dragged away from your bass  screaming.

 

You need to play along to hundreds of those simple songs (especially your present set) and throw your chord charts away. The singer in one of my bands has been singing the same songs over hundreds of gigs but still has to have the lyrics of every song laid out in front of her (although she never looks at them) they act as a psychological crutch. Make a pledge to yourself that you won't bring your chord charts to your next rehearsal and I'm sure you'll amaze yourself at how much you remember.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Learn the chords/scales that are built from each degree of the Major scale, usually referred to as Modes:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_(music)

 

Then use the numbering system to simplify the information, A V(5) chord in the key of G major, is known as D7 as notated, or Mixolydian as a mode, or the V chord of G Major. Once you've established the key, use the numbering system. The most common jazz turnaround is a II/V/l,  so you can see how communicating that information is much quicker in number form:

 

https://www.activemelody.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/The-Chord-Numbering-System.pdf

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as ear training and interval recognition, from what I can gather, if I gave you a root note and asked you to sing me a perfect 5th interval above it, that would probably be a problem.

 

If you remembered that a perfect 5th interval is the first two notes of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", you could probably sing the interval quite easily. Interval recognition through familiarity, you can find your own tunes but here's a list:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_recognition

 

Something you can do without a bass.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

"Sorry S'manth, if you were not born with this ability then ..."

Nobody is not born with this ability. Unless you're one of the very very few who have a rare gift then it's something that has to be worked at. A lot. Don't be disheartened, often we hear about people who are really good and we think to ourselves that they're really naturally talented, but what we don't see or hear about is all the toil and time that's gone into becoming that good.

 

Try some of those ear interval exercises but ensure that you stick to one key until you can easily identify each interval. Another idea is to transcribe nursery rhymes played on the piano because it's much easier to hear higher register notes, but it still develops your ability to hear and identify pitches.

 

In parallel, transcribe well known songs. Identify the key, the basic bassline riff, and chords(just use the root notes on the bass, playing them as the song is being played to try to identify them. It can prove tricky sometimes when inversions are used). I don't think I would recommend getting bogged down on any one song, transcribing it down to it's most minute detail note for note. Just do lots of songs in a basic way, identifying the key, some of the chords used, and the notes used in the bassline riff.

It's one of those skills that is really difficult for most people but gets easier the more you do.

Edited by TheLowDown
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ear training is a long journey, so don't get discouraged.

 

If you look here

https://www.miles.be/software/

there are several versions of a simple but effective program which is also available in smartphone/tablet app format. I stumbled on this many years ago and used the discontinued functional ear trainer basic (which IIRC is stand alone and doesn't require adobe air)

 

Some intervals are much harder than others to hear clearly and distinctly, this app plays a cadence to establish a key and then a random note which you have to guess. The nifty thing about it is it allows you to custom select which intervals it tests you on, so you can focus on what you are struggling with - initially you should stick to a fixed key center and a small selection of notes in order to maximise repetition and reinforcement of the learning process - when you are confidently and consistently able to identify the notes, you can then increase the difficulty.

 

The other thing I would recomend is singing(focus on getting accurate pitch), especially when you are practicing - once you can clearly and accurately sing intervals/arpeggios/scales, they become much easier to recognise.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, SubsonicSimpleton said:

Ear training is a long journey, so don't get discouraged.

 

If you look here

https://www.miles.be/software/

there are several versions of a simple but effective program which is also available in smartphone/tablet app format. I stumbled on this many years ago and used the discontinued functional ear trainer basic (which IIRC is stand alone and doesn't require adobe air)

 

Some intervals are much harder than others to hear clearly and distinctly, this app plays a cadence to establish a key and then a random note which you have to guess. The nifty thing about it is it allows you to custom select which intervals it tests you on, so you can focus on what you are struggling with - initially you should stick to a fixed key center and a small selection of notes in order to maximise repetition and reinforcement of the learning process - when you are confidently and consistently able to identify the notes, you can then increase the difficulty.

 

The other thing I would recomend is singing(focus on getting accurate pitch), especially when you are practicing - once you can clearly and accurately sing intervals/arpeggios/scales, they become much easier to recognise.

 

The Functional Ear Trainer app is the best thing I've found for getting the hang of how intervals sound (and, more importantly, feel) within the context of a key, which is what you need if you're trying to work out songs on the fly. Having been playing for 20+ years this is the one thing I'd go back and do every day if I had the chance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 31/10/2022 at 11:21, Grimalkin said:

As far as ear training and interval recognition, from what I can gather, if I gave you a root note and asked you to sing me a perfect 5th interval above it, that would probably be a problem.

 

If you remembered that a perfect 5th interval is the first two notes of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", you could probably sing the interval quite easily. Interval recognition through familiarity, you can find your own tunes but here's a list:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_recognition

 

Something you can do without a bass.

This 1000%

Recognising intervals is the best first step.  Most people start off using a couple of notes from a familiar song as mentioned above. Very soon it becomes second nature.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

^ using well known songs to recognise intervals is not an ideal method, but is more of a hack to get started. Each of those songs remembered may start from a different root. For example the minor 2nd from C to Db will sound differently from E to F.

Edited by TheLowDown
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Start really simply. Learn basic intervals. Use an app like Earpeggio. Dont worry about all the intervals - focus on root and iv first, then try and recognise the v .

That will take you a couple of weeks/month. Once you have that down, you can play 90% of all i,iv,v pop songs :) with a basic root and fifth on Bass. Expand your knowledge of more intervals as the app guides you.

 

When ever you listen to music, just try and identify the intervals - after a few days thinking in terms of numbers it will become more natural... You dont need to try and play the bass at the same time - in fact trying to train your ears will probably be hindered if you're trying to play 

 

Dont try to think of Notes - c,d,e,f... think of the intervals. Once you have this down, when someone calls out a key - '..lets go for x in 'C'..' you can apply your interval knowledge, and the notes will flow naturally

Edited by sammybee
spelling mistake
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A while ago I got hold of Monk Montgomery's bass guitar book. The first part of this involves practicing every mode in every key around the cycle of fourths in every position on the bass, in thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths and octaves.

 

This takes rather a long time to get through but I found it extremely helpful for getting the notes under one's fingers. After doing a lot of those exercises it was much easier to pick up the bass and start playing something I'd just heard or could hear in my head.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 04/11/2022 at 15:22, TheLowDown said:

^ using well known songs to recognise intervals is not an ideal method, but is more of a hack to get started. Each of those songs remembered may start from a different root. For example the minor 2nd from C to Db will sound differently from E to F.

 

It doesn't matter about moving the root, it's recognising the interval, from any root. Those songs are not just played in one key.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 05/11/2022 at 16:48, Grimalkin said:

 

It doesn't matter about moving the root, it's recognising the interval, from any root. Those songs are not just played in one key.

That's the aim, yes, but initially it's better to keep things simple for people who have difficulties, and then eventually extend to other roots. If your ability to recognise intervals is excellent then you won't need to.

Edited by TheLowDown
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...