Saturday, October 07, 2006

"Music" -> Ear Training Part III

I've already advised a bit of software for ear training, but it is worth it to spend a little more time on the mainstream way of teaching ear training.

If you recall, there are two types of ear training:

1. Functional ear training
2. Interval ear training

Let's spend a little bit of time on interval training, #2, method today.

If you have ever done ear training in the past, you probably learned the "interval" ear training method. What is this? You listen to two sets of notes on the piano, or the keyboard, and then you name the number of spaces they are apart, or the interval distance. Normally, these intervals are associated with songs that help you "hear" the interval.

Let us give an example: it just happens that the first two notes of Amazing Grace is a perfect fourth apart. If somebody plays the first two notes of Amazing Grace, it is really quite easy for us to recognize "hey, that's the first two notes of Amazing Grace." Now, any time that you hear a perfect fourth, you can recognize it because it is now always associated with Amazing Grace.

So let's look at the interval method a bit more.

Chris Aruffo in his website on perfect pitch spends some serious time thinking about relative pitch (this is just another name for what I have been calling ear training). If you want a lot heavy thinking, you should read his phase 7 page. He points out that when you do the interval method of listening, most people can get quickly to the point where they can identify instantly up to a 3rd or a 4th. However, beyond this, it becomes more difficult and suddenly they need to use the "song" method as a crutch. Why do I say a crutch? Because it places one more step in the path of getting to the note. Secondly, in our age, we don't have songs with strong opening intervals. For instance, if you are going to know a major 7th interval (M7), I hope you've learned "Bali Hai" because I seriously doubt if you'll recognize any major rock songs with this interval.

If you remember my Mom? She never used songs to get the intervals in her mind. We simply gave her the tune, and she could just play it. It was as if she could just pick the notes out of the air.

Some people have stated that if you do traditional ear training long enough, the translation will just become automatic, and you won't be struggling through an intermediate "use a song" method. Perhaps, this method will become natural and make you as good as my Mom. I'm a bit skeptical, therefore, I am using the functional method, which I'll describe later. However, interval training is the method taught by a 1000 universities, most high schools, and most music teachers. If the majority is right, then you should be using this method.

If you want to get started, you'll need a couple of tools:

1. Good software for intervals can be found here. This excellent peice of software is call "solfege," but I would argue that the software is not really solfege based. (More on this in a later post.)

2. Secondly, you'll need a good list of songs with key intervals. The best that I've found is listed below.

Here are some of the common used intervals to help you transfer an interval into a song to identify the step. For example the folks here, via Laura Krzyston, have the following as their suggested songs for interval recognition:

Interval Ascending Descending
m2 Jaws
What's New?
Nice Work if you can get it
San Francisco (Left my heart)
I Remember You
I'm Getting Sentimental over You
Bye Bye Black Bird
Stormy Weather
It's Been a Hard Day's Night (Beatles)
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Joy to the World
The Theme (M. Davis)
Sophisticated Lady
Stella by Starlight
The Lady is a Tramp
Solar (M. Davis)
Shall We Dance (The King and I)
Fur Elise
Hernando's Hideaway
M2 Happy Birthday
Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
Silent Night
There Will Never be Another You
Tennessee Waltz
My Funny Valentine
Body and Soul
They Say, Ruby
Frere Jacques
Doe, a Deer (Sound of Music)
Mary had a Little Lamb
Deck the Halls
Away in a Manger
Yesterday (Beatles)
On the Sunny Side of the Street
Freddie Freeloader
Three Blind Mice
Whistle While You Work
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Blue Moon
Satin Doll
Tune Up
My Girl
The First Noel
m3 Work Song
Georgia on my Mind
A Foggy Day
The Impossible Dream
Somewhere my Love
O Canada
Oh Where, Oh Where has my Little dog Gone?
Brahm's Lullaby
So Long, Farewell (Sound of Music)
Frosty the Snowman
What is This Thing Called Love?
500 Miles High (C. Corea)
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Hey Jude
Peter Gunn
You're a Grand Old Flag
This Old Man
Jesus Loves Me
Star Spangled Banner
M3 Oh When the Saints
I Can't Get Started
Kum Ba Yah
While Shepherds Watched
Sweet Hour of Prayer
Well I Come From Alabama
From the Halls of Montezuma
{Big Ben Sounding the Hour?}
Beethoven's Fifth
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Good Night Ladies
Giant Steps
Come Rain or Come Shine
Bessie's Blues
P4 Here Comes the Bride
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Oh Christmas Tree
'Round Midnight
Maiden Voyage
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
All the Things
Song for my Father
Love me Tender
Auld Lang Syne
Aura Lee
The British Grenadiers
Amazing Grace
Someday my Prince Will Come
Day is Done (Taps)
Shave and a Haircut
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Valse Hot (Not Intro!)
Yardbird Suite
Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise
I Didn't Know What Time it Was
Almighty Fortress is Our God
Baseball Chant
Bizet's "L'Arsienne"
Make New Friends
Bizet's Farandole
Born Free
I've Been Working on the Railroad
TT Maria (West Side Story)
The Simpsons
Blue Seven (Sonny Rollins)
European Siren
P5 Twinkle, Twinkle
Theme from 2001
Whisper Not (Benny Golson)
Theme From Peanuts
Bags Groove
Lavender's Blue
Hey There Georgy Girl
Blackbird (Beatles)
7 Steps to Heaven (M. Davis)
Have You Met Miss Jones?
The Way You Look Tonight
Mozart's Minuet in G
Bring a Torch Jeannette Isabella
m6 Love Story (third and fourth notes)
The Entertainer
Morning of the Carnival
Go Down Moses
The Entertainer (third and fourth notes)
Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
Love Story Theme
Please Don't Talk About me When I'm Gone
You're Everything (C. Corea)
M6 My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Theme from The Sting
Dashing Through the Snow
You're a Weaver of Dreams
Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen
O-ver There
Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield
m7 There's a Place for Us (West Side Story)
Old Star Trek Theme
Have You Driven a Ford?
Somewhere (West Side Story)
I'll Close My Eyes
Watermelon Man (H. Hancock)
Theme from American in Paris
Little Red's Fantasy (Woody Shaw)
M7 Cast Your Fate to the Wind
Theme from Fantasy Island
Bali Hai (South Pacific)
I Love You (?)
Hee Haw
From the Grand Canyon Suite
P8 Somewhere Over the Rainbow
A Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)
Let it Snow!
McDonald's Commercial (?)
Del Sasser
Blue Bossa
There's No Business Like Show Business (Notes 2-3)
Weep for Me
I Love You (The Other One)

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