Advice for ear training?

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by I Break Things, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. I Break Things

    I Break Things Senior Member

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    Hi, everyone. I hope I'm posting this in the right place. I don't post many threads.

    I've been playing guitar for about 3 years now, and I want to start learning songs by ear. Here are the problems for me...

    1) I have some deafness in the bass range.

    2) Most of the songs I enjoy are fairly fast and/or heavily distorted. I LOVE distortion! But it makes it harder to pick things out.

    3) I'm more of a rhythm player, so I mostly like to play chords and that seems to be a bit harder to learn than single notes, especially when you add in the heavy distortion and power chords shifting about and then weird things get thrown in.

    4) Also, my knowledge of music theory is pretty minimal and I have no idea where to really start, so I have to just fidget until I get it right. Advice in where to start and some resources for this would be greatly appreciated as well.

    Thank you in advance and have a great day, everyone!
     
  2. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    take some singing lessons, best ear training there is.
    The old saying,,, if you can't sing it, you can't play it.
     
  3. Who

    Who are you? Who who who who.... Premium Member

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    I'm interested in this, also.

    I often can't tell between two sounds, which is higher or lower.

    It has me hunting around the neck. Am I "tone deaf"? Is this common?


    I feel like other people can probably tell the difference. Yes, plenty of notes are obvious, where one is lower than the other.... but I can hear a B and an E (for example), and not only not know what note or chord I'm listening to, I also can't tell which is a higher pitch.


    It's only when I find it on the guitar that I can tell it's the same as what I'm hearing.




    And no, I can't tune a guitar by ear. That skill astounds me.




    Len Paul.... with singing lessons, how many lessons would you recommend, for someone who doesn't plan to sing? I know that would vary, but do you think it would take years, or months to build up a decent foundation?
     
  4. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    Len Paul.... with singing lessons, how many lessons would you recommend, for someone who doesn't plan to sing? I know that would vary, but do you think it would take years, or months to build up a decent foundation?[/QUOTE]

    Can't put a time line, some folks hear the pitch quickly, others can learn to hear it, & then there are tone deaf that may never .
    A singing coach would tell you where you stand first lesson.
     
  5. HogmanA

    HogmanA Senior Member

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    as well as singing lessons (if you tell a music teacher your aims, they could probably tailor exercises specifically for that, ie not to be a singer in its own right),
    a big help is to stop using a guitar tuner. get a reference pitch such as a harmonica or tuning fork and tune to that by ear. you'll be getting an exercise every time you play your guitar. it will get easier.

    this modern reliance on guitar tuners is damaging. Fretless bass players and violinists use their ear every time they finger a note and so should guiarists!
     
  6. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    My favourite resource - in fact probably my all-time favourite piece of software ever:
    https://www.seventhstring.com/xscribe/screenshots.html

    I've been using it for years (at least ten), and probably fire it up 2 or 3 times a day - usually just for fragments of songs.

    Don't expect it to give you the answers. Use it like a scientist uses a microscope. I have problems hearing bass too, but you can use this to raise the octave, which both makes the bass much more audible, and puts it in the same register as guitar.

    Distortion! No answer to that. If it sounds like a mess to you, it will sound like a mess to the software too. I.e., Transcribe has a chord guessing function - if you isolate a beat (or less) of the waveform (see the box on the right in the screenshots - the top guess is usually the best) - but with very distorted guitar it will usually give the message "spectrum too messy, or out of tune notes". IOW, it can only work with the frequencies in the waveform, and if they're a soup of all kind of overtones and extraneous noise, then it stands no chance. Still, a lot of the time this can be fixed by tuning the track, so the peaks exactly line up with notes on the piano keyboard. (Those peaks are usually chord tones, but that example in the screenshots is a very clean piece of audio.)

    Some theory knowledge will help in that it can tell you what chords to expect if you know the key. But that cuts both ways. Many songs (perhaps most) contain chords that don't "belong" to the standard major key set. So although some theory will help, it's important not to let it prejudice your ears. Your ears are always right (provided they're sure), and the music is always right.

    BTW, unlike most slowdowners, Transcribe will work with video. It's a bit of a pain to have to download and convert youtubes to MP4 (Transcribe's preferred format), but they're then a lot easier to work with than the 1/2 speed option on your browser.

    As for your thread title - the only ear training I ever do (and have ever done) is transcribing songs. I was crap at it to begin with, but practice makes you better (if not perfect). I've tried those ear training apps, but they're a PITA. You'd be better off just playing your guitar and listening closely to the difference between major and minor, or maj7 and dom7, etc.; listening to how it sounds to go from a I to a IV, in various keys, or I to V. Eventually you'll recognise those changes when you hear them in songs.
     
  7. jcsk8

    jcsk8 Senior Member

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    Learning songs with heavy distortion is tricky. Spcially in the "bass" content. I use programs to slow down the music file to try to figure the notes and the squence.
    Other many times, I have to use videos, and scores o the song to really understand them.
    But is not so often that I grab a score or video cover and figure out that still they are wrong.
     
  8. Sp8ctre

    Sp8ctre Senior Member

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    Don't feel bad, I've been pursuing this ear training thing for well over a year and I still can't name a note that's being played or quickly find it on the fret board!

    I've taken Music Theory 101 at Berklee and I'm taking a Music Foundations class right now that is a combination of Ear Training and Harmony...I still can't do it...I guess I'm one of those that has a hard time, but I won't give up!
     
  9. paradice

    paradice Senior Member

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    I used to have to use the same guitar/instrument/tone to try and transcribe anything
    ie..I couldnt pick out guitar notes/chords on a piano
    if it was a nylon guitar in the song I'd need to use a nylon guitar etc
    my ear is still pretty bad but I don't have to do the above now (although can still help...)

    knowing different shapes (so ..different sounds) helps...sometimes you can still play the right chord, but it sounds off cos you're playing it differently to the record

    all you can do is practice.....try figuring out the chords to a song you like, or just the bridge or one line you like..... but don't know how to play.
    It's zero fun/motivation repeatedly listenig to something you're not interested in trying to figure out the chords that you'll never play again!
     
  10. DarrellV

    DarrellV Almost 1 Year old this month! Premium Member

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    This may sound crazy but I've used the tuner in my DAW (I have Studio One) to show others how to hear and correct their voice.

    I set up two channels in studio one and put the tuner plugin on each.

    I run my guitar into one channel, and a vocal mic into the other.

    I then pick a single note on the guitar and make sure it's on pitch of course, (you could use a single key on a keyboard here too, just pick a sustaining patch like an organ).

    then I have the vocalist "sing" a monosyllabic sound (like an ah or oh) and hold it.

    The tuner on the mic channel shows what note they are near and if sharp or flat.

    I then have them constrict or relax their vocal cords while watching the tuner to see their results.

    I also point out to them the dissonance heard between the two and how the beats slow down as you get close and speed up till its noise as they move away from center.

    Then we work on a few different note 'songs' simple melodies actually, and I have the singer use just the sound of their voice instead of words at this point.

    If we use words, they are mono pitched and stretched out like a harmony vocal.

    Think the speed of the old Gregorian chants.

    Also kind of like the Sound of music approach. Learn the tones using monosyllable memes then put the words in later.

    YMMV
     
  11. DarrellV

    DarrellV Almost 1 Year old this month! Premium Member

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    Oh, BTW,

    If you want to train your ear to hearing beat tones, borrow somebody's bass guitar!

    Grab the tuner on one of the middle strings and give it a whirl down.

    Now play it and the string next to it together and notice the horrible sounding mess you have just created.

    That's dissonance caused by the sum and difference frequencies of the 2 discordant strings vibrating in the same space together.

    On a bass you can FEEL it as well as hear it more so than a guitar.

    Now by holding down the lower string next to it (the one nearer to the low E) on the fifth fret strike it and the string you de-tuned a minute ago.

    Gently tighten the de-tuned string back up to pitch and you will clearly hear the beat frequencies slow down between the two strings until they match and ring together in unison. You are now hearing correct pitch.

    Keep tightening gently and you will hear the beat frequencies slowly start up again and get quicker as you move away from the correct pitch.

    It's the same with singing.

    I sing from the inside of my ears, always analyzing what's coming into my ear from the speaker and amp against what my voice sounds like from within my head.

    If they don't match, I will hear the dissonance inside my ear between the two sources and I can then correct till it goes away.
     
  12. I Break Things

    I Break Things Senior Member

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone. So it would seem being able to basically produce those notes with a sort of humming noise is a good starting point, so I learn to get my voice in tune with the notes I am hearing played. Am I understanding correctly?
     
  13. DarrellV

    DarrellV Almost 1 Year old this month! Premium Member

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    Yes, that is one way, but there is a catch...

    Can you identify when you have reached unison (the same) pitch?

    Can you hear the beat frequencies as you get close or past?

    That is why I recommend d-tuning a string on your guitar to hear what beats sound like, if you are not familiar.

    Distortion will highlight the effect and make hearing it easier in some cases.

    You can simply sing the major scale in the key of your choice on one string and use do, re, mi, if you want to.

    That technique was developed centuries ago to help others to pick up pitch and harmony.

    If you have a guitar tuner with a mic, they will sometimes work for visualizing pitch. Has to be chromatic, though.
     
  14. Midnight Blues

    Midnight Blues Premium Member

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  15. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Great point! Modern reliance on TABs is also damaging for ear training. Try figuring out a tune by ear.
     
  16. KP11520

    KP11520 Senior Member

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    Every time I figure out something by ear, it's like a rite of passage and climbing a LONG flight of stairs. Breakthroughs come more often as I sweat the painful details. Years ago when figuring out the guitar solo on ELP's - From The Beginning, it took me a month to finally get a one second blurb. And with that, I added a technique unknown to me before.

    My friend plays violin. Doesn't even have to work hard at it. Nails it. He is gifted with perfect pitch, as was his mother before. Sometimes I want to beat him with his own bow and cry out like a kid..... "NO Fair!" LOL

    All I can say is..... Never Give Up! :thumb:
     
  17. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Also a good start is learning to identify intervals.

    Recognizing the difference between two pitches will go a long way!

    When I was a kid this was my exercise....it was about hearing two notes, one after the other (start with the lower note) and associate it with a song you know. For example i used:

    • minor second- isn't she lovely (stevie wonder)
    • major second - doe ray (from Do ray me la si etc.)
    • minor third - oh Canada
    • major third - oh when the saints
    • perfect fourth - amazing grace
    • perfect fifth - twinkle twinkle little star
    • minor sixth - the entertainer - Scott Joplin
    • Major sixth - my bonnie lies over the ocean
    • minor seventh - theme from the original star trek
    • major seventh -take on me (a ha)
    • octave - somewhere over the rainbow
    In each of these examples it's the first two notes of the song that make that interval.
    It helped me a LOT!
     
  18. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    Absolutely.
     

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