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Developing aural skills #2146366
09/08/13 12:53 PM
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On the Classical Sonata Analysis thread, I was talking about my lack of aural skills. dire tonic suggested starting a thread for how to improve aural skills.

What can you do aurally with music? What would you like to be able to do? How did you achieve the skills you have? What might you suggest to someone trying to improve?

Is there a way to make the improvement process fun, or at least interesting, or at least something other than a continuous series of failures (which is mostly how I feel about it when I sporadically try it)?

The skills might be in the realm of either listening, or playing, or both.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146375
09/08/13 01:04 PM
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If you can find a live traditional music jam, go and listen, and then try picking out tunes/chords. Just don't do it loudly laugh But really, the chord progressions for much of it are pretty straight foward.

Failing that, play along with the same that's on a cd, or web radio or something.

Traditional music (of the British Isles and the US and much of western Europe) may not be your favorite music, but much of it is 2 or 3 chords. Some of it is modal, so might take a llittle longer. (Other traditional music may use micro tones or rhythms which are more complex than western music, so is harder to play along to, particularly for a fixed pitch instrument.)

It might be frustrating at first, but you'll begin to hear the chord changes, and eventually even to anticipate some of them. If nothing else, then you'll be convinced you're not totally hopeless at the job smile

Cathy



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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146406
09/08/13 01:40 PM
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Try these trainers:

http://classic.musictheory.net/90
http://www.musictheory.net/exercises/ear-chord

They are very good. The first link is the classic look, the second is the new look. For some exercises I prefer the classic look.

You can customize so you only get a few choices. For instance, in the triad ear trainer start by limiting it to major, minor and dominant 7th.

Here is the index (giving you both the classic and the updated):
http://classic.musictheory.net
http://www.musictheory.net/exercises

There are lots of other trainers at this site e.g. note-reading.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146481
09/08/13 04:01 PM
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jotur and bolt, thank you for the suggestions.

jotur, I have a lot of recordings of traditional music. I called contradances for a few years. I'll try listening to them and listen for what I can pick up.

bolt, in addition to limiting the selections on the musictheory site, do you have any suggestions for how to learn from the site? Here's what it feels like to me working with it: I set it to major triads only and listen to several. I set it to minor triads only and listen to several. I set it to major and minor triads together, and I'm promptly in 50-50 guessing territory. Sometimes, chords that the site corrects me and says are major, sound distinctly minor to me. And vice versa. I feel like I can't seem to learn what major vs. minor sounds like, and just guessing and being wrong so often leaves me feeling frustrated and incompetent. I wonder if using the site to play me a chord, and then trying to replicate the sound of the chord at the piano, might be a better way to use it.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146483
09/08/13 04:02 PM
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PS88, do you sing?


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146486
09/08/13 04:05 PM
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Morodiene, I do sing. I'm in a chorus and reasonably confident, although I work hard on learning my music.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146501
09/08/13 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Morodiene, I do sing. I'm in a chorus and reasonably confident, although I work hard on learning my music.
Great! Aural skills work best by copying. If you have a resource that can play several short phrases, maybe ones that start out with 4-5 notes and then increase in number over a period of time that would be best. I'm not sure of a resource like this, although I'm sure it exists somewhere, if not maybe someone can play some samples for you and let you know if you got it right or not as you sing it back to them.

Solfeggio helps with this as well, and you can also try dictation.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146512
09/08/13 04:23 PM
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I'm puzzled. I can sing phrases back fine (at least I think I can). What I struggle with are the music theory names for anything I hear. For example, a minor arpeggio I can sing it back (I think), but I can't name that it's minor vs. major. If you play me an interval I can sing it, but if you name me an interval I'm inaccurate at singing it, as likely to be slightly off as spot on. Or if you play me an interval, I will struggle to name it.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146514
09/08/13 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I'm puzzled. I can sing phrases back fine (at least I think I can). What I struggle with are the music theory names for anything I hear. For example, a minor arpeggio I can sing it back (I think), but I can't name that it's minor vs. major. If you play me an interval I can sing it, but if you name me an interval I'm inaccurate at singing it, as likely to be slightly off as spot on. Or if you play me an interval, I will struggle to name it.


I think a lot of this can be solved with coming up with songs that you know that have these intervals, and remembering what parts go with what interval.

This may help:
http://www.people.vcu.edu/~bhammel/theory/resources/macgamut_theory/songs_interval_recognize.html


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146528
09/08/13 04:40 PM
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PianoStudent88 - contra dance music is perfect. The idea is to try to play along, with chords, not melody - use the last note of the tune to find the tonic chord (most of the time, anyway), and then try the I-IV-V chords until something fits. If *nothing* seems to fit IV and V, try using the I and VII or vii chords - it may well be modal.

Cathy


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146529
09/08/13 04:41 PM
09/08/13 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I'm puzzled. I can sing phrases back fine (at least I think I can). What I struggle with are the music theory names for anything I hear. For example, a minor arpeggio I can sing it back (I think), but I can't name that it's minor vs. major. If you play me an interval I can sing it, but if you name me an interval I'm inaccurate at singing it, as likely to be slightly off as spot on. Or if you play me an interval, I will struggle to name it.

I have a problem with that whole system in how it wants to teach. The sites that I have seen that "teach" them are simply testing devices in that they play something and ask you to name them. Then you get the idea that you don't know something when you might actually know it ---- just not the naming part.

Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146531
09/08/13 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I set it to major and minor triads together, and I'm promptly in 50-50 guessing territory. Sometimes, chords that the site corrects me and says are major, sound distinctly minor to me. And vice versa. I feel like I can't seem to learn what major vs. minor sounds like, and just guessing and being wrong so often leaves me feeling frustrated and incompetent.


I don't think it's as worrisome as you think. When it changes to a different key and then gives you a new question it can trick your brain into giving the wrong answer, because your brain is still stuck in the old key, and one of the two notes in the new question may be a different interval in the old key than it is in the new key of the new question. Hope that makes sense.

So, I think it would be cool if the site had the option to keep all the questions in the same root key.

One thing you can try: go to the interval note trainer I gave in the first link and set it to only two intervals: minor 3rd and 5th, or some variation of this. There the intervals are far enough different in width you can start out getting higher scores.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146533
09/08/13 04:52 PM
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Thank you for all the ideas so far. I look forward to more. Morodiene, I've been trying the song-interval idea on and off for several years. I'm still inaccurate.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146534
09/08/13 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Thank you for all the ideas so far. I look forward to more. Morodiene, I've been trying the song-interval idea on and off for several years. I'm still inaccurate.
Are you inaccurate in singing those songs? Happy Birthday for example, can you nail down the major 2nd right at the beginning?


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146544
09/08/13 05:05 PM
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I don't think I'm inaccurate singing the songs, but if I try to use them to just sing an isolated interval, or to try to match to an unknown interval, I'm inaccurate.


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146558
09/08/13 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I don't think I'm inaccurate singing the songs, but if I try to use them to just sing an isolated interval, or to try to match to an unknown interval, I'm inaccurate.
But you can sing "Hap-py Birth-day" which means you can sing "do-re-do" and then "la-la-la" singing the appropriate interval (major 2nd). I think perhaps you just need to take all the steps to get to just singing the interval. Once you can sing the interval, then you just "sing" it in your mind to identify. But perhaps you are biting off way too much to start.

Have you done sight-singing using solfeggio? I think it's perhaps best to work within diatonic intervals (intervals only found in a major key), and actually, just working on getting a major 2nd down. Once you can do this, then work on Major 3rds, and so on.

This is a book I own and have used. I like all the examples and how they approach intervals, but they deal more with scale degrees and some of the ranges of the melodies are quite difficult for some voices. However, I think it's useful:
http://books.google.com/books/about/Sightsinging.html?id=cCHTcgBfChgC


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: Morodiene] #2146576
09/08/13 06:05 PM
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Working on Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata, Mvt 3.
Re: Developing aural skills [Re: Morodiene] #2146598
09/08/13 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
This may help:
http://www.people.vcu.edu/~bhammel/theory/resources/macgamut_theory/songs_interval_recognize.html


That's very cool! For instance, a M6 can be thought of as a My Bon. :-)

I can do My Bons in any key even if I wasn't sure I could do M6s instantly in any key.

Just proves we already know the intervals, just maybe not actually by a particular name.





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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: bolt] #2146602
09/08/13 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by bolt
Originally Posted by Morodiene
This may help:
http://www.people.vcu.edu/~bhammel/theory/resources/macgamut_theory/songs_interval_recognize.html


That's very cool! For instance, a M6 can be thought of as a My Bon. :-)

I can do My Bons in any key even if I wasn't sure I could do M6s instantly in any key.

Just proves we already know the intervals, just maybe not actually by a particular name.



This is why I think being able to sing an interval given a starting pitch is much easier than identifying it out of the blue. But practicing doing the first enough will help. Then when that is easy, you hear the interval in your head (and hopefully you are given multiple choice at first, so you know it's a 2nd 3rd or 4th or something). You "sing" it in your head and try to sing the songs that are most likely that interval. For example, if you hear a 2nd, you can tell the notes are close together, so you wouldn't go through Twinkle twinkle (5th) or My bonnie (6th).


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Re: Developing aural skills [Re: PianoStudent88] #2146639
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When I sing and try to compare to the interval songs I know, I can't match them up reliably.

Morodiene, I'll look at that book. I have some other Kodaly sight singing books also; they start with sol-mi descending.


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