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Learning to recognize chords
#2719392 03/06/18 12:41 PM
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Hey all, something I've been struggling with lately is quickly recognizing chords in music, unless it's a very basic non inverted triad. But when reading through sheet music, if it's non obvious, it's very hard for me to actually tell you what the current chord is. For example, I'll be working on a piece with my teacher and he'll say "so this is a G Major 7th" or the likes and I'll just smile and nod, take note and try to figure out why later smile Any suggestions for resources to work on this? I'm guessing like a note speller but for chords in different forms?

Last edited by squidbot; 03/06/18 12:42 PM.

Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545, R. Schumann Fantasy Dance, Joplin The Chrysanthemum
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Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719397 03/06/18 12:50 PM
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You mean for grand staff notation, right? If so, just go through and write them in, above the treble staff, just like a lead sheet. Then make a list of the chords in the piece you're working on, and memorize them. Strangely enough, it won't be all that many. Repeat for each new piece, and pretty soon you'll run out of chords you don't know.


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Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719408 03/06/18 01:29 PM
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I began to make a scale-arpeggio-chord chart that I thought would be nice with cadences (2-5-1, 4-5-1) and planned on practicing them. It can easily be transposed into various keys. I never quite completed the project though. If you'd like to see it I can send it to you.

Alternatively just pay attention and make sure you know what you're playing, rather than just learning the piece. It's extra work that I haven't yet taken on - there's only so much time. Maybe one day.


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Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719422 03/06/18 02:17 PM
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It comes with practice and just needs time to develop.

I practice my triads, dominant 7ths, and diminished chords in all inversions, one key every day. I've been doing this in all keys for something like two years. Over time I started recognizing the chord shapes on the keyboard and do the inversions in my head. At the same time I also improved my reading skills so that I can more easily associate keyboard shapes with staff notation.

So I think it's a combination of lots of reading and lots of practicing of your technical exercises (and hearing the chord quality too) and it takes a while to become fluent at it.

Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719427 03/06/18 02:25 PM
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When you practice this, qazsedcft, do you use a sheet or from memory? I have been doing it from memory but think I would benefit more from sheet. That's why I was trying to write one, but was wondering if there is a consiste version you like, with 1-2 pages per key?


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Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719433 03/06/18 02:39 PM
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I practice from memory and my exercises are based on the patterns in the RCM curriculum, plus some made up.

The thing is that I don't really think about chord names when I read music. I look at the chord shape on the sheet and my hands automatically go to the right notes on the keyboard. If you ask me I will tell you what chord it is but that's not concious when I read.

Again, I can't really tell you what specific skills to practice. It's a mix. Learn your theory, do some sight reading, ear training, and technical exercises every day for a loooooong time. wink

Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719539 03/06/18 09:35 PM
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It is hard and very very boring. I think it hard to instantly recognise chords, most people would have to sit and work it out. Subconsciously I can see a chord and play it straight away and I don’t know what I’m playing. For me to sit and work out the chord would take a while. I wouldn’t waste your time unless it interests you.

G major 7th - g b d f#. It’s is the chord g major with the 7th note. G minor 7th g b d f natural. If u didn’t know why did u not as your teacher to explain?

Sometimes it helps musically knowing music theory but I’m not sure you learn this from knowing to recognise chords.

I learn small bite size chunks when I learn pieces with my teacher but that is all. Normally this relavent music theory in pieces is ok and not boring. Always ask to have things explained if u are not sure, I always ask and this helps me understand. But I don’t really like it when it’s nott relavent it needed. It was forced upon me to do theory as a child and it’s v v yawn yawn. I’d rather be playing something.

Last edited by Moo :); 03/06/18 09:57 PM.
Re: Learning to recognize chords
Moo :) #2719569 03/07/18 03:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Moo :)

G major 7th - g b d f#. It’s is the chord g major with the 7th note. G minor 7th g b d f natural. If u didn’t know why did u not as your teacher to explain?

G B D F is a G dominant 7th chord. G minor 7th would be G B-flat D F.

Major triad + major 7th = major 7th chord
Minor triad + minor 7th = minor 7th chord
Major triad + minor 7h = major-minor 7th chord = dominant 7th chord

Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719618 03/07/18 10:08 AM
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I created an app on Google Play (Android only) called PianoFlashChords which is a learning aid for chords. It is totally free and no advertising. It can either be used at the piano or simply standalone.

Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719654 03/07/18 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by squidbot
For example, I'll be working on a piece with my teacher and he'll say "so this is a G Major 7th" or the likes and I'll just smile and nod, take note and try to figure out why later smile

One thing you absolutely need to do is let your teacher know what you don't know. If you just smile and nod, how will he know what he has to teach you? There is an inherent logistics problem with teaching adult students, in that we are not blank slates and a teacher literally won't know what we do and don't know. Some few teachers will check this, but not all do. There are practical hands-on ways of learning these things, and your teacher may have some tricks up his sleeve to guide you once he knows about this. smile

Re: Learning to recognize chords
Moo :) #2719733 03/07/18 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Moo :)
It is hard and very very boring. I think it hard to instantly recognise chords, most people would have to sit and work it out. Subconsciously I can see a chord and play it straight away and I don’t know what I’m playing. For me to sit and work out the chord would take a while. I wouldn’t waste your time unless it interests you.
.


The three elements of (Western classical) music:

. . . Melody;
.. . Rhythm;
. . . Harmony.

If you don't understand the chordal structure, you're missing a _lot_ about the music.

When I learn choral music, in the tricky parts I write in the harmonies. That lets me think (and sing):

. . . It's an A major chord, and I have the C# -- I know how that sounds . . . .

You don't "instantly" recognize chords, until you've been playing for a long time. You start out by working them out. Then by practice and repetition, you start recognizing the common ones "instantly". The uncommon ones -- those (for me) are still worked out:

. . . There's an Ab in the bass, an Eb above that, a G, a C -- ah, an Ab major 7th.

A lot of musical structure is built around chords. IMHO, it's better to know it, rather than to just play the notes. I understand that not everyone learns (or plays) in the same way.


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Re: Learning to recognize chords
RVDowning #2719791 03/08/18 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by RVDowning
I created an app on Google Play (Android only) called PianoFlashChords which is a learning aid for chords. It is totally free and no advertising. It can either be used at the piano or simply standalone.


Thank you for that . I've put it on my phone and will give it a go smile
Anything and everything to help chord recognition can only be a good thing.


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Re: Learning to recognize chords
Lillith #2719800 03/08/18 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Lillith
Originally Posted by RVDowning
I created an app on Google Play (Android only) called PianoFlashChords which is a learning aid for chords. It is totally free and no advertising. It can either be used at the piano or simply standalone.


Thank you for that . I've put it on my phone and will give it a go smile
Anything and everything to help chord recognition can only be a good thing.


Thanks from here too! I have also added it to my phone.



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Re: Learning to recognize chords
NobleHouse #2719818 03/08/18 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by Lillith
Originally Posted by RVDowning
I created an app on Google Play (Android only) called PianoFlashChords which is a learning aid for chords. It is totally free and no advertising. It can either be used at the piano or simply standalone.


Thank you for that . I've put it on my phone and will give it a go smile
Anything and everything to help chord recognition can only be a good thing.


Thanks from here too! I have also added it to my phone.


Would be curious to hear your and Lillith's comments.

Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2719847 03/08/18 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by squidbot
Hey all, something I've been struggling with lately is quickly recognizing chords in music, unless it's a very basic non inverted triad. But when reading through sheet music, if it's non obvious, it's very hard for me to actually tell you what the current chord is. For example, I'll be working on a piece with my teacher and he'll say "so this is a G Major 7th"


You need not struggle very much. There are 4 different positions you can play a block Gmaj 7th in, in the RH. The same with all 7ths. It then will get trickier with + or -5's, all other extensions, obscure voicing and rootless chords, as you can call them different things. Too much to think about when you are playing of course.

If you were in a group and working out new pieces all the time. Then it would be good to be able to quickly get to any chord that is called out, and in closest inversion, or for you to be calling them out. This would be useful skill and surely by then you could easily do this and would be very familiar with the more common chords in any inversion, and could work out the rest. Otherwise, I don't see a lot of pay back for this skill of being able to quickly name any chord you happen to be on. Take your time.

If you wish to do a harmonic analysis of any piece and discover the harmonic structure and proper naming of all the chords, it is worthwhile effort. We did a harmonic analysis on the 1st movement of the Moonlight Sonata some years ago. It was amazing the chords we discovered that I had no idea about. We periodically spent hours or more discussing a single chord. It was not a race and good thing as some of the chords were far from obvious, for me anyway. All that disappears though, when you are playing. I tend to be more along with Moo that is more of interest sake and a behind the scenes endeavor. You do need to know what position to be in and at what time. There is no hurry to know or worry much about what chord you are playing is at any given time, unless it is to help get you there faster or is of interest to know.

It is like a skill that will develop naturally over time and not worth pushing along to speed up the process. I think.



Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2721100 03/14/18 10:29 AM
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I was never trained classicly and had a popular music oriented education. This meant that we mostly used sheet music with just a melody line with chords written out on top. We would learn how to create increasingly complex arrangements around it.

As a result, I am a lot worse at reading bass clef than a lot of classicly trained pianists of my level, but a lot better at chords.

The way I learned chords as a kid was to simply memorize the sound of the melody of the intervals. My teacher would ask me to play any random chord and he would let me 'find it' by ear, playing a sequence of individual notes. My teacher put great emphasis on hearing excercices in general and had me mimick melodies he played almost weekly. I'm still very grateful for that training.

We went from all the basic chords up to the more complicated ones (I took lessons for 7 years in total). This made me memorize most chords pretty quickly and made me able to figure out a chord quickly if I did not have it memorized. It also laid a foundation where chord inversions sort of came naturally to me.

I'm not saying this is the best approach to learn chords, but I think when learning something it is best to approach it from all possible angles and trying and find intervals and chords by ear can be a good little excercise to do in between.

I am good at this, but horrible at recognizing chords written out in classical pieces, because I was never trained to do so. That mostly has to do with my sight reading being pretty poor.

Last edited by martijn; 03/14/18 10:31 AM.
Re: Learning to recognize chords
keystring #2721124 03/14/18 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
[quote=squidbot]One thing you absolutely need to do is let your teacher know what you don't know. If you just smile and nod, how will he know what he has to teach you? There is an inherent logistics problem with teaching adult students, in that we are not blank slates and a teacher literally won't know what we do and don't know. Some few teachers will check this, but not all do. There are practical hands-on ways of learning these things, and your teacher may have some tricks up his sleeve to guide you once he knows about this. smile


Due to time constraints and my prior musical background, we agreed to focus on technique and performance rather than theory, so I try to keep it to myself. I can work out the chords if I sit down with a pencil, but would like to be at the point where I can recognize them more quickly.

I wish that app was on iOS! It looks cool.


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545, R. Schumann Fantasy Dance, Joplin The Chrysanthemum
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO, Piano de Voyage
Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2721130 03/14/18 11:56 AM
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If you use Pianoteq, you can just play the chord and it will tell you what it is laugh That's one handy feature of PT, but I find I'm using it less anyway and just sticking with the sound of digital piano.


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Re: Learning to recognize chords
Chrispy #2721170 03/14/18 03:05 PM
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What really helps me to learn chords , it's Bach - Prelude in C BWV 846. I have a version with a chord symbol on top. It's a simple arpeggio repeated over and over and each measure has a different chord, minor, major, diminished or dominant.

Serge

Last edited by Serge88; 03/14/18 03:09 PM. Reason: grammatical error


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