[ EAR TRAINING FOR IMPROVISERS ]
INTRO TO EAR TRAINING
Ear training has two main components: singing and listening. Singing will help you to identify chords and intervals that you will hear both in music classes and in real life playing situations. This guide will get you started with teaching you how to teach yourself about ear training. At the end you will also learn to use the techniques in this chapter to create your own exercises!
SINGING MAJOR SCALES AND INTERVALS WITHIN AN OCTAVE
The best way to begin training your ears is to start producing the sounds you want to identify. In order to do that, we need to learn how to sing major scale. The easiest way to do this is with a piano or keyboard. Even if you’ve never played a piano before, you can use one for ear training using the following key. This way you can play the scales or intervals and sing along with what you play. If you don’t have a piano handy, feel free to use whatever instrument you are most comfortable with.
The first skill we need to learn is how to sing a major scale. Sing along with the track and get it memorized as soon as possible.
All of the intervals that we’ll need to learn can be found within these eight notes! Sing each interval with the syllables and then the note names. Listen, and sing along with the tracks.
Now listen to these next intervals one at a time. Here’s how we identify the interval.
1.) Sing the lowest note
2.) Using syllables, sing up to the major scale until you hit the higher note. If you hit the note exactly in the flow of the scale going up, refer back to your interval chart and you’re done! If the note of the recording seems to be in between two notes of the major scale, then you’ve narrowed it down the it’s only possibility and you’re done (eg, if the note seems to be between F and G, then it has to be an F#. If the note seems to be between G and A it has to be G#).
3.) Check your answer.
4.) Repeat until you’ve memorized the sound of each individual interval.
Use the following tracks to practice your new skill of interval identification.
Now the you’re comfortable with some basic intervals, lets move onto some basic chord identification. We’ll start with triads. Sing the syllables and then the notes names along with the practice tracks.
Now we’ll add the seventh note onto the basic triad to give us three four-note chords that form the basis of a lot of jazz harmony.
To Identify A Chord
1.) Sing the root
2.) Sing the third and determine if the third is natural or flatted (Mi or Me). The interval between the root and third will be a major third on major 7 chords and dominant 7 chords. The interval between the root and third will be a minor third on a minor 7 chord.
3.) Sing the seventh and determine if it natural or flatted (Ti or Te). The seventh will be natural on major 7 chords, and minor on minor 7 and dominant 7 chords.
1,3,5,7= major 7. 1,b3,5,b7= minor 7. 1,3,5,b7= dominant 7.
4.) Practice playing and singing these chords until you can easily tell the difference between the three types.
5.) If you want to add extensions (notes beyond the normal four like: #4, b9, etc…) simply sing up the scale and add the appropriate note on top of your basic four-note chord.
Practice your new skill with the following chords.
CREATE YOUR OWN EXERCISES
The follow are some ideas for ways that you can create your own ear training exercises.
- Transpose the above exercises into all twelve major and minor keys.
- Play intervals with a friend. Try to guess the interval that other person plays. Trade back and forth.
- Play chords with a friend. Try to guess the chord that other person plays. Trade back and forth.
- Identify intervals in your favorite song. Try to sing them.
- Close your eyes and play two random notes on the piano. Guess the interval.
- Try to identify one or more chords that your like from your favorite song.