Basic Guitar Training : Ear Training

Basic Guitar Lesson : Ear Training


Thursday, June 14, 2007 
By Stephane Brault


There is something about playing guitar which I always wondered if I was right or wrong : playing by ear. In fact, every musician plays by ear. Those who say they don't are probably deaf. I got to admit that over time I haven't been reading music much. It would take longer to figure out a song with a sheet music than by ear.

This leads us to today's guitar lesson. Ear training helps develop a sense of "rightness" or "wrongness" when we play or listen to music. Some can push the exercise up to having a perfect pitch which means that they have the ability to recognize every musical notes just as you would recognize any color. We're not going there today but we're going to train our ear to recognize intervals (or distances between notes).

Let's see the intervals within one octave of the C major scale :

Major 2nd Major 3rd
E--------------
B--------------
G--------------
D------0---0---
A--3-------3---
E--------------
E--------------
B--------------
G--------------
D------2---2---
A--3-------3---
E--------------
Perfect 4th Perfect 5th
E--------------
B--------------
G--------------
D------3---3---
A--3-------3---
E--------------
E--------------
B--------------
G------0---0---
D--------------
A--3-------3---
E--------------
Major 6th Major 7th Octave
E--------------
B--------------
G------2---2---
D--------------
A--3-------3---
E--------------
E--------------
B------0---0---
G--------------
D--------------
A--3-------3---
E--------------
E--------------
B------1---1---
G--------------
D--------------
A--3-------3---
E--------------

Now record yourself playing these intervals by grouping them in different orders of study. Group the minor and major seconds together, then the minor and major thirds, and so on. Add a pause of 3 or 4 seconds between each intervals.

When you are done, play your recording and try to name what you are hearing. Of course, you should take this exercise to another level and record some more intervals (E Major 2nd, E Major 3rd, etc).

You could also write down each interval name on a separate 3x5 file card : C Major 2nd, C Major 3rd, etc. Now shuffle the deck and then pick a card and try to sing or play the interval.

Just keep practicing until you can easily identify each interval by ear!





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