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  1. #1
    Hi.

    After doing many things to/with ears, apps, solo on guitar etc. I hoped the scale degrees kinda clear out, can learn to distinguish them easily and "produce" them on the fly when they are needed. It kinda worked but only in comfort zones - in well known and very familiar context.

    Try this out yourself: play a random m7 and make it sound the II degree m7 - dorian - by singing the risen 6th degree of the chord. If you can do this without any effort, congratulations. But this combo is easy one. And even the easy ones can be tricky: let your friend play a m7 chord's inversion or a hip voicing of that m7, try to nail the chord's root -1st degree- as it would be the m7, not anything else and there - trouble awaits.

    A bit more practical example of the same problem is when we need to sing/play a known tune from other keys. Falls in the same category - needs a bit of listening, pondering and done, works in the new key. But that's basically trial&error - this kind of problem solving ain't any good in live soloing.

    ---
    It has bugged me so damn long so, had to post. So, how do you deal with this issue? I've hunch that this might be more than a fancy skill. If it doesn't work when trying to sing a degree (in different contexts).. that means, we really don't know them so well. Meaning that the improvised solos are based on lucky licks!
    ...well, maybe it's not that bad but still, something feels not right about the whole situation.

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  3. #2

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    Looks like you are bringing up three things:

    - the degrees of a chord where the degrees of one chord are with respect to the root of another chord
    - the degrees of an inverted or otherwise voiced chord in isolation, where the degrees are with respect to that chord's root
    - the degrees of chords transposed when a song's chords are changed to a different key

    Working backwards, I'm not seeing why the last one would be trial and error at all... the pitches are shifting but the relative relationships among them remain invariant.

    As for the other two, and similar cross references, any degree manifests with respect to a basis - the local root/tonic, or a neighboring root/tonic, or the key note for the song or section of a song. Which or how many of these bases one grasps and hears is a personal matter, depending mainly I think on whether one wants to know the names of the degrees or whether one wants to recognize the sound of the degrees.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  4. #3

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    There are people who can do it. One I know who is quite amazing at it told me that he did 4 years of ear training courses with a nasty Professor, hearing "Wrong!" over and over again.

    But, I know people who can do that who never had any ear training at all.

    I'm not one who believes it's all hard work and that talent has nothing to do with it.

    I've tried to work on it in various ways, none as successful as I hoped.

    I'd suggest formal university style ear training courses and be prepared to tolerate some frustration.

    I've used Ear Master software, which I'd describe as a little bit helpful.

    There's something I've been meaning to do in a structured way, but haven't yet, which is to use IRealPro to provide a bass line and change the key every chorus. 12 choruses of each tune. 12 keys. Work up a list of tunes, quite simple at first, and try to build the skill.

  5. #4

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    I would say keep working on it but don't sweat it too much.

    I know that ear training and playing an instrument are supposed to be synonymous and everything, but they just aren't.

    I can play chord specific outlines, motifs, patterns, licks etc. but I would have to practice singing them just like I had to practice playing them. The thing is, my vocal chords don't have frets and I can't visualize them and even if I could it wouldn't help at all - so - finding random notes or target notes in random order on my guitar is easier (depending on the musical figure). And - practicing in all keys really pays off in this regard.


    So - soloing and ear training?

    I would say that improvisation most frequently consists of extemporaneous ideas based on KNOWN patterns. And by that I mean patterns of sound and patterns of physical performance (the former being more inspired and the latter being more mechanical, or so they say).

    Inspired and instantaneous generation of pure, original, UNFAMILIAR musical ideas - that also sound great - is more of a fleeting mirage than anything else.

    IMO, of course.

  6. #5
    Thanks, people.

    I can play by ear but with harder tunes, I tend to stick within the rails. Pushing out means a mistake may happen or something cool and new. But here's the thing - when trying to go out ("out" still "right notes, not something hip), it's rather like not knowing how the line may really sound against the harmony instead knowing in advance (which I would very much like to happen).

    The slight shock of not being able to even sing the dorian 6th on the fly, let alone playing it (without minding the visual pattern on the fretboard) has hinted there is a proper hole in my (ear)training. Which mostly has been guessing-work + "letting fingers go .. somewhere".

    I don't have time right now to think and comment more but this is a white hot topic for me.. gonna see what methods could help here in coming months.

  7. #6

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    Ear training is contextual.

    If you say 6th of the II chord, I would think 7th of the key.

    If you say 6th on a minor 7th, I would think major 6th.

    Dorian 6th on a II chord would tend to make it sound like a V9 2nd inv anyway

    It’s a common arpeggio for melodies. Lambeth walk for instance

  8. #7

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    Oi !

  9. #8

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    sorry had a cockney moment there

  10. #9

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    I found the best way of ear-training was to learn intervals from well - known melodies .
    So a rising semitone is 'What's new ' , rising tone is ' Telephone and rubber band ' , rising minor third would be ' Moanin ' ( Bobby Timmons not Mingus ) etc etc

    Or as Christianm77 says , relate them to the harmonic context , probably a better idea .

    I remember doing a lot of aural dictation at college , it was an excelllent workout for the ears .

  11. #10

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    Here’s a video I did


  12. #11

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    Ecxellent video although I'm a bit disappointed that Julie Andrews didn't actually make an appearance .

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pycroft View Post
    Ecxellent video although I'm a bit disappointed that Julie Andrews didn't actually make an appearance .
    She was there in spirit

  14. #13
    Got sidetracked from this for a bit but took a break and this vid popped up. Nice ideas. Close to topic.

    Last edited by emanresu; 01-27-2019 at 06:34 AM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    Got sidetracked from this for a bit but took a break and this vid popped up. Nice ideas. Close to topic.

    I like this video. Fun stuff to work on...

  16. #15
    Yeah. Btw, that last exercise with minidisk was the same thing that got me into ear training.. and into practicing once again after giving up for a long time. But I used Foobar

  17. #16

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    There's an exercise method I've fooled around with occasionally but you need a keyboard. I just found the sheets with the exercises, so I'm planning to set up my keyboard in the bedroom (it's like I'm back in high school except I share it with another person now) so I can get back to doing them. The basic idea is this:


    1. Play any two notes on the keyboard harmonically, i.e., at the same time. Sing both notes, lower to higher. Check yourself by playing them melodically, one at a time.
    2. Repeat with two different notes.


    Then do it with 3 different notes, played as a chord, then check yourself by playing them individually. That's the drill, you just keep adding notes as each step gets easier. It gets hard pretty quickly.

  18. #17
    Got another random YT suggestion from too annoying youtuber for my tastes.. so not gonna post the link here But the key word was "emotional ear training". It may have some uses with those degrees also. Maybe try to describe the feeling a degree makes against chords. Well, it is a proper rabbit hole.