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seskanda
08-20-2005, 07:38 AM
I'm thinking of taking an ear training class at my town's community college, but prefer to learn to train my ears by myself. As I believe the classroom is not the right environment for me to learn such a skill. The syllabus indicates that the instructor will use the 'fixed-do' method, which i hear is an obsolete and bad way, and that 'movable-do' is much better, right? Also, apparently half the class is devoted sightsinging. As a composer, does one really need this skill? I thought that sightsinging is intended primarily for singers/vocalists.

As for training my ear, I know there are scores of programs out there; I currently use EarMaster Pro 4, which is a pretty decent program, but the rhythm exercises are awkward (I have to bang on my spacebar all the time). It seems a tad too slow and gradual for me, and the interface is cluttered and confusing at times. I know of only two other better programs on the market: Practica Musica and Auralia, both are VERY expensive! Yet, i've been hearing raving reviews for there comprehensiveness and clarity. Anybody know if they're really worth all the hype?

The class will use "Ear Training: A Techinique for Listening" by Bruce Benward et al. and "Sightsinging Complete" by Bruce Benward et al. Anybody used these books before, are they any good? What method does the Ear Training book use, Solfege or something else? It'd be great to know the pros and cons of moveable vs. fixed-do, and if Solfege is even an efficient way to train one's ear. Thanks a lot!

silent-storm
08-20-2005, 08:46 AM
singing is the most important aspect to ear training and sight singing is really the only useful thing for someone not majoring in voice...if you don't know how to sight sing and sing your scales, chords etc etc, you will always need an instrument in order to figure out anything. I can not overstate just how important singing is to EVERYTHING. Transcription, transposition, memorizing melodies and licks, getting what is in your head out on your instrument, singing helps everything.

Ear training courses in school are good in that they force you to spend time on ear training during your own practice every day just to keep up...and if you do this progress will naturally follow closely behind. Plus it will probably be taught by a singer...someone who's entire life is ear training, so you will probably pick up a few good excersizes to do on your own. Fixed do is fine, it has it's benifits and drawbacks just like everything else. I've never used it, but I have used both moveable do and numbers extensively and can say that any system is just fine especially if you are just learning. Eventually if you get to a certain level you will naturally gravitate towards the system that best suits your needs...until then just learn what they are teaching you because they know what they are talking about.

As for programs...they are usually not worth the hype. There isn't a single one out there that covers everything that needs to be covered. I'd suggest attempting to find some demo's of as many programs as possible, then try to adapt what they do to something you can do by yourself or with a friend...oh, that reminds me...ear training in college is all about practicing with class mates...nothing beats being tested by someone else every day.

VidKid
08-20-2005, 01:39 PM
Proper ear training is very important and should not be overlooked. It’s hard work and it takes time to ‘train the ear’ and recognize instantly what you hear. Transcribing solos is one way to develop the ear.

I agree, ‘movable-do’ is the best method for sight singing. In addition to being able to sight sing, proficiency in recognizing the primary chords, extension, alts., different scales, arpeggios, modes, cadences, progressions, intervals, etc. is essential. Eventually this is where all the hard work in sight singing leads to. There’s software that drill extensively in these areas. Earope is one such program. Most traditional classroom ear training courses focus on basic sight singing, solfege, melodic dictation, and somewhat limited interval and chord recognition. Maybe jazz schools spend more time in other areas.

VidKid

seskanda
08-28-2005, 08:49 AM
hmmm...a week has past and only two responses? I see these posts have addressed most of my questions except about the texbooks "Ear training" + "Sightsinging" by Benward et al, moveable vs. fixed-do, and whether solfege is really useful, hello anybody?


singing is the most important aspect to ear training and sight singing is really the only useful thing for someone not majoring in voice...if you don't know how to sight sing and sing your scales, chords etc etc, you will always need an instrument in order to figure out anything.

Thanks for the tip! How ironic that as a NON-voice major i have to learn one of their most difficult skills!! I had a hunch that singing was the key, but unfortunately I have to sing most music an octave lower than it sounds! This is because I have a deep, raspy bass voice that can barely go a 3rd over Middle C on the piano! Should i hum, or maybe whistle instead? ARGH!!! I forgot that i CAN'T whistle! Besides, even if i hum or learn to whistle wouldn't i still have to sing the music an octave lower?? Also, just WHAT is the relationship between Sight Singing and Ear Training; i'd really like to understand the connection!


I can not overstate just how important singing is to EVERYTHING. Transcription, transposition, memorizing melodies and licks, getting what is in your head out on your instrument, singing helps everything.

Well, your right according to the stuff you've listed, but singing hardly helps with chords/harmony or contrapuntal music, as far as i know. I hear it's practically impossible to sing anything MORE than a harmonic interval (i.e. two notes simultaneously.) So, everything you've mentioned ONLY applies to monophonic, single line texture. How does one hear seventh,ninth, etc chords, inversions of them, as well as their various other configurations? Of course, inversions always seem to confound me!


Fixed do is fine, it has it's benifits and drawbacks just like everything else. I've never used it, but I have used both moveable do and numbers extensively and can say that any system is just fine especially if you are just learning. Eventually if you get to a certain level you will naturally gravitate towards the system that best suits your needs.

How/why would you recommend Fixed-do when you state that you've NEVER used it before? Also, I don't see your reasoning why Fixed-do or 'any system' would be 'fine' because i'm a beginner? The LAST thing i wanna do is waste my time learning a flawed, obsolete method.


As for programs...they are usually not worth the hype. There isn't a single one out there that covers everything that needs to be covered.

It appears your suggesting that I should have more than JUST one ear training program, which programs, in particular, do you use for each area of ear training? Have you actually tried Practica Musica and Auralia or are you merely generalizing?

Bizarro
08-28-2005, 02:29 PM
"How/why would you recommend Fixed-do when you state that you've NEVER used it before? Also, I don't see your reasoning why Fixed-do or 'any system' would be 'fine' because i'm a beginner? The LAST thing i wanna do is waste my time learning a flawed, obsolete method. "

No method is perfect. But each one has it's advantages and disadvantages. YOu're worrying about the wrong stuff and focusing on minutia which doesn't really matter in the big picture.

Take the class. It's a basic skill which everybody should have, like reading and writing. I did, and I have a low, no-range voice too. ;)

dusura
08-29-2005, 04:27 AM
You should use movable-do solfege if want to improve your relative pitch - forget about fixed-do - fixed-do will not help you. Have a look at the ear training articles on this site. They are a good starting point. Also, check out books from Berklee like the Steve Prosser book. And books by Bruce Arnold.

And most important of all - start transribing music from recordings without using your instrument.

"Thanks for the tip! How ironic that as a NON-voice major i have to learn one of their most difficult skills!! I had a hunch that singing was the key, but unfortunately I have to sing most music an octave lower than it sounds! This is because I have a deep, raspy bass voice that can barely go a 3rd over Middle C on the piano! Should i hum, or maybe whistle instead? ARGH!!! I forgot that i CAN'T whistle! Besides, even if i hum or learn to whistle wouldn't i still have to sing the music an octave lower?? Also, just WHAT is the relationship between Sight Singing and Ear Training; i'd really like to understand the connection!"

Don't worry about how bad your singing sounds - the point is you are singing to help you ear not trying to become a better singer. It is a means to an ends. Although you may find that your singing does improve as a side effect of your ear training. It is best to sing rather than hum/whistle as you should use solfege.

Singing is very close to hearing things in your head. That is why singing works. First you start singing various melodies you hear with moveable-do solfege, eventually you won't have to sing so much to work out a melody - you start to just hear it in your inner ear. The singing is just an aid to getting to this point.

"Well, your right according to the stuff you've listed, but singing hardly helps with chords/harmony or contrapuntal music, as far as i know. I hear it's practically impossible to sing anything MORE than a harmonic interval (i.e. two notes simultaneously.) So, everything you've mentioned ONLY applies to monophonic, single line texture. How does one hear seventh,ninth, etc chords, inversions of them, as well as their various other configurations? Of course, inversions always seem to confound me!"

You do not need to sing multiple parts simultaneously. You singing one line from a four-part harmony or whatever.

"It appears your suggesting that I should have more than JUST one ear training program, which programs, in particular, do you use for each area of ear training? Have you actually tried Practica Musica and Auralia or are you merely generalizing?"

I agree with previous posters that ear training programs are OK but they are over-hyped. Just start transcribing real music from real recordings. Choose something simple to being with, maybe by one of those music slow-down programs to help.

If you want to use a program the best ear training program available is "Functional Ear Trainer" and it is free!

silent-storm
08-29-2005, 04:31 AM
For the harmony...If you can sing a major 7th arpeggio without thinking about it you have a lot better chance of recognizing it harmonically. Same with intervals. If you can pick out and sing the bottom note of an interval you can easily sing up the scale to the top note and figure out what interval it is. If you hear a chord and can sing the root you can easily recognize if there is a 9th because you just sing up a step and it's either there or it isn't, or sing down a semi-tone to figure out if there's a major 7th etc etc. Of course this becomes a lot more useful and less annoying to classmates when you are able to do it in your head.

As for fixed do. I have friends that have originally learned in fixed do and have later switched over, or remained with fixed. Fixed do people seem to be able to keep the roots and root movement in their head easier because they seem to have a clearer reference point. If do is always a certain note you can start to memorize tones and sing things the same way every time and thus possibly even memorize things faster...or maybe not. You can learn to sight sing just as well as anyone else out there using another system, so I'd start worrying about it after you can sing pretty much everything you want to be able to sing. And don't forget that it is rather painless to switch and if you do switch it isn't like you will hear it any differently. Hearing is hearing and if the goal is to be able to get these sounds in your head so you can play what's in your head it doesn't matter what you call the sounds.

Mateo150
08-29-2005, 01:40 PM
be careful who you take advice from. The class will probably help, but you'll still have to do all the work to get better, It'll just lay out the plan of attack for you.

I've used those midi based ear training programs, I'd rather transcribe stuff.

oRg
08-30-2005, 09:22 PM
I'm taking a Music Theory class right now. It's Music Theory 1. Granted the theory abou tis to me isn't going to be a challenge at all. It's the Ear Training/Sight Singing part of the class that will. It's the whole reason I signed up for it. Granted right now I've only had one class and we won't be getting in to any singing til about mid-September.

seskanda
09-12-2005, 05:39 PM
Ok, I need some clarification, what is the difference between transcribing, 'playing by ear' and dictation? As far as i know, the ONLY difference between transcribing and playing by ear is that in the former you REFRAIN from using an instrument. And dictation is essentially the same as transcribing, except that with dictation you 'take down' rigid exercises instead of actual music, right? If what i've stated is true, then transcribing is EXTREMELY difficult, because, of course, you have to do it WITHOUT the blessing of an instrument.

Just how do you go about transcribing music? I mean, HOW do you know if what you've wrote is correct? What if you DON'T have the original notation of the music to check your transcription with?! Would checking your transcription on an instrument ultimately diminish ones musicianship?? Or do i have to begin doing so and only gradually and later on "trust my ears?" If that's the case, then its a very s-l-o-o-o-o-w process!!! What I'm really trying to do is find the FASTEST way to learn to transcribe.

Also, currently, I'm learning to aurally differentiate the intervals by associating them with familiar tunes (i.e. AScending Maj 2nd= Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, DEscending Maj. 3rd= Beethoven's 5th, etc.) I 've heard (no pun intended. :)) that this method is somehow flawed, although i don't know the details on the matter. I'd really like to know WHY this approach toward grasping intervals is frowned upon?!? On a side note, does anyone have a list of tunes or something that can help me aurally contrast HARMONIC intervals?

silent-storm
09-13-2005, 01:43 AM
the best kind of transcribing for ear training purposes is done without an instrument. But if that is not really possible at the moment, using your instrument until you feel comfortable trusting your ears in some situations is the next best thing. You eventually want to rely on as little as possible, which means not having to rely on your intrument. It's just as slow of a process as everything else you will ever learn. Do about a dozen songs and your ears will be twice as good.

As for the flawed system...yes it is because you want to hear a descending major third for what it is: a descending major 3rd, not the opening of Beethoven's 5th. There's a difference, but again it's a starting point if that's all you've got. You eventually want to rely on as little as possible.

Just don't let them become crutches in the future.

dusura
09-14-2005, 04:23 AM
Also, currently, I'm learning to aurally differentiate the intervals by associating them with familiar tunes (i.e. AScending Maj 2nd= Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, DEscending Maj. 3rd= Beethoven's 5th, etc.) I 've heard (no pun intended. :)) that this method is somehow flawed, although i don't know the details on the matter. I'd really like to know WHY this approach toward grasping intervals is frowned upon?!? On a side note, does anyone have a list of tunes or something that can help me aurally contrast HARMONIC intervals?

This trick is OK for the short term but can hinder long term progress. It is OK when you hear an interval in isolation and have a few seconds to identify it. But in real music by the time you have gone through mental list of all your familar tunes the music will be several bars along - too late! You need to "own" the sounds - not compare them to a mental list of other sounds - there isn't time.

Also, the interval comparison is bogus because a Maj 2nd sounds different in different tunes, sometimes it may be "Sol - La" like in "Rudolph", other times it might be Fa - Sol or one of many other combinations - and they all sound different.

Honestly, it is just better to learn the sounds of all 11 notes (Do, Di, Re, Ri...) against a tonal centre. It is hard but can be done by anyone if they really want to. You need to hear the note qualities directly for what they are, rather than using some trick. To make an analogy with sight, if you see a blue wall, you just know it is blue, you don't go through a pre-prepared list of things that are various colours. You do don't go "hmm, the wall doesn't look like fire so I guess it's not orange, maybe it's like grass, hmm no, I guess it's not green, oh hang on, it looks like the sky - guess it must be blue!".

Bizarro
09-15-2005, 02:19 AM
It seems like you need to do more ear training and less worrying about which system is better or worse. Learn by whatever means work for you. Results matter, not the system. People don't learn the same way, everyone is different.

silent-storm
09-15-2005, 07:05 AM
It seems like you need to do more ear training and less worrying about which system is better or worse. Learn by whatever means work for you. Results matter, not the system. People don't learn the same way, everyone is different.

That is very true. musicians are constantly guilty of trying to achieve the "ideal way" of doing everything when it doesn't exist.

Whenever you come up with an idea of how to do something differently it should be followed by the question: 'That's great, but can it effect my playing RIGHT NOW? or is it more of a long term project?' Long term is great, but no ideal state exists...music is too inherantly messy of a subject for that.

Never lose sight of improving your playing/ear/whatever right now.

seskanda
09-28-2005, 06:12 AM
This trick is OK for the short term but can hinder long term progress. It is OK when you hear an interval in isolation and have a few seconds to identify it. But in real music by the time you have gone through mental list of all your familar tunes the music will be several bars along - too late! You need to "own" the sounds - not compare them to a mental list of other sounds - there isn't time.

Ok, so if associating the intervals w/tunes as a mneumonic is NOT effective in the long run, HOW do you propose i go about "owning" the sound of intervals?


Also, the interval comparison is bogus because a Maj 2nd sounds different in different tunes, sometimes it may be "Sol - La" like in "Rudolph", other times it might be Fa - Sol or one of many other combinations - and they all sound different.

Why?! I pretty confused here.:confused: Is this because they're in a different key? What you're saying could only apply to movable-do, and you would NOT have this problem with a fixed-do, right? By now, i'd REALLY like to know the pros/cons of fixed & movable-do.


Honestly, it is just better to learn the sounds of all 11 notes (Do, Di, Re, Ri...) against a tonal centre. It is hard but can be done by anyone if they really want to. You need to hear the note qualities directly for what they are, rather than using some trick. To make an analogy with sight, if you see a blue wall, you just know it is blue, you don't go through a pre-prepared list of things that are various colours. You do don't go "hmm, the wall doesn't look like fire so I guess it's not orange, maybe it's like grass, hmm no, I guess it's not green, oh hang on, it looks like the sky - guess it must be blue!".

From what you've written, it seems like relative pitch is different than perfect pitch in just ONE crucial aspect. The ONLY difference being instead of recognizing a pitch/tone in PP, you recognize INTERVALS in relative pitch. I just wanna get the differences between the two straight and square. Regarding learning the sounds of the chromatic scale against a tonal centre, are you referring to Functional Ear Trainer (FET)?

The method is called Note-in-key or 'contextual' ear training, i believe that's whats stated in the readme file.;) Frankly, i don't really understand how it WORKS. If it's supposed to teach you the FUNCTION of every tone within the context of a key then HOW can i use this as i'm TRANSCRIBING music? To me, it seems much HARDER to find the cadence in the music that defines the key/tonality then to 'take down' the intervals, and use a tuning fork or pitch pipe to determine the key beforehand or afterward.

Unless this way will actually help me identify the 'qualities' of intervals faster/better than association with familiar tunes; i see NO use for this approach, not to mention it ONLY pertains to TONAL music. Also, if i choose to use FET must i STOP using other ear training software (earope, earmaster pro,etc.) Because FET seems diametrically opposed and contrary to the rationale of those programs.


It seems like you need to do more ear training and less worrying about which system is better or worse. Learn by whatever means work for you. Results matter, not the system. People don't learn the same way, everyone is different.

EXACTLY right! I could hardly have said it better myself. I heard that a number of great musicians (can't recall their names, i think they were Jazz musicians) who devised their own systems of hearing music, most of which, deviated considerably from solfege.

Bizarro
09-28-2005, 12:58 PM
Take any advice you get (here or anywhere) with a grain of salt. Think about how it applies to you, see if it makes sense, etc, and then use it if you feel it is appropriate.

Regarding using familar songs as an interval guide, that is a proven method that works for many people. It's like seeing a friend's face. You don't run through a list of the 10,000 people you've met in the last 20 years to identify him/her. You automatically & instantly recognize people, and sometimes you even remember their name! LOL!! :)

forgottenking2
10-01-2005, 04:24 AM
I'll just add that I've used both fixed do (it's the predominant method in South America) and movable do (currently in the US), they both work provided that you play by their rules. Just like learning an instrument, you can train your ears yourself but it's A LOT faster with a good teacher. And someone with a doctorate who's been teaching in a college for a while is very likely to be a good teacher (once again there are some sucky ones out there too, as there are a few EXCELLENT teachers with no credentials) so I would think taking the class would be a safe bet.

I used to think there was no use to singing (mainly 'cause I was afraid to do so 'cause I thought I sucked) but it does help you train your ears, and being able to sing in front of people (even if it is pretty bad in the beginning) will give you discipline, self control and focus (the good kind of "tunnel vision"). So the way I see it is a win win situation. You will definitely get something out of it.

I hope this helps

Regards,

-Jorge

dusura
10-02-2005, 05:25 AM
From what you've written, it seems like relative pitch is different than perfect pitch in just ONE crucial aspect. The ONLY difference being instead of recognizing a pitch/tone in PP, you recognize INTERVALS in relative pitch. I just wanna get the differences between the two straight and square. Regarding learning the sounds of the chromatic scale against a tonal centre, are you referring to Functional Ear Trainer (FET)?

Yes, I was talking about FET. I think of relative pitch as identifying the sound of individual tones with a tonal context. It is not necessary to think in terms of intervals. Contextual identification of tones is an alternative to interval identification. Both are forms of relative pitch. Both methods have their uses, in my opinion contextual identification is more useful so I spend most of my time on that.


The method is called Note-in-key or 'contextual' ear training, i believe that's whats stated in the readme file.;) Frankly, i don't really understand how it WORKS. If it's supposed to teach you the FUNCTION of every tone within the context of a key then HOW can i use this as i'm TRANSCRIBING music? To me, it seems much HARDER to find the cadence in the music that defines the key/tonality then to 'take down' the intervals, and use a tuning fork or pitch pipe to determine the key beforehand or afterward.

It is not hard to "find the cadence in music". It is quite natural to hear within the context of the key of a piece of music. If you can hear when a note sounds resolved and when a note sounds tense you have the beginnings of contextual hearing, you just need to refine it and give names to the different types of resolution/tension sounds. One way to name these sounds is with movable-do solfege.

So, when transcribing, if you use the contextual method together with movable-do you just hear a note as "Sol" or "Fa" or whatever and you write that down in your transcription.

My advice would be to give the contextual method a try for a while. It is hard to intellectualise these things. Some things you just have to experience to see if they work rather than trying to understand in an abstract way.


Unless this way will actually help me identify the 'qualities' of intervals faster/better than association with familiar tunes; i see NO use for this approach, not to mention it ONLY pertains to TONAL music. Also, if i choose to use FET must i STOP using other ear training software (earope, earmaster pro,etc.) Because FET seems diametrically opposed and contrary to the rationale of those programs.

If you think that music is made up primarily of intervals then of course you will not see the point of the contextual approach because the approach is not FOR identifying intervals.

I happen to think intervals are NOT the primary material from which music is made so I don't consider identifying them as that important. I can transcribe perfectly well without indentifying them.

My experience is that a melody, for example, is not a series of intervals but a series of individual tones with differing degrees of consonance/disonance with respect to the tonal centre of a piece.

A lot of people in this thread have spoken about the importance of singing in ear training. If you think of a singer, they don't think in terms of singing a series of intervals. They sing a series of tones with different harmonies within an overall tonal context. You will not hear many singers talk about music in this way because it is mostly intuitive for them.

Many many musicians use the contextual method whether they call it that or not. It is not just some crazy "out there" idea. And it is taught in well-respected schools like Berklee School of Music.

klerg
12-08-2005, 06:47 AM
The thing i don't get with this 'Contextual" ear training is, when transcribing music, how do know what key the piece is in the first place? I mean it's not viable to start guessing if the note(s) your hearing are a 5, b5, 2, #2, etc. if you don't know what key your in, right?

forgottenking2
12-08-2005, 02:56 PM
What key do you want it to be in? You can write the piece in whatever key you want. And if you need it in a different key you can always transpose. This is specially useful if you have a vocalist who can't hit say a high D but he can do an excellent job on the high C, so you transpose the piece acordingly. If you just want to be accurate with the recording, all you need is the first note, so check that one with your instrument and then you'll write down the same m3, m6, b5 etc in your new key context.

In short: it works.

bok2
02-19-2006, 05:59 PM
i always had a problem with eartraining,
my current approach is transcribing some slow songs and melodies
i usually try to sing it out first before i play it
i prefer transcribing the vocal parts of the song
but when improvising i cant put whats in my head down to the instrument
i play metal a lot and because its fast i tend to use other peoples transcriptions
im at lost as i dont see any improvement in my eartraining
what should be a good approach on this???
am i on the right track, should i just keep on going and wait till it have any affects me??
im really quite lost.

forgottenking2
02-20-2006, 01:27 PM
Transcribing with an instrument is great, but it slows you down. (you have to pick up the guitar or go to the piano every so often to check yourself and often find that you have made a mistake... I've been there) Your voice is always with you, so if you use it to get the aural reference you need when transcribing you'll probably reap the benefits you are seeking. Singing in pitch (even if your voice is horrible :p ) will help you internalize the different intervals, arpeggios and other musical devices used in melodies.

Good luck.