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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Exercises to develop my ear


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UB2 - Posted - 08/28/2020:  16:51:50


I'm desperately wanting to learn to play by ear....any advice or exercises I can do that will help me? Thanks in advance!

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 08/28/2020:  17:49:29


Sing your do-re-mi's. Start with Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do, the major scale. Over and over again. Once the pitches begin to make sense among each other, mix them around. See if you can skip a couple notes. Try the progression Do-Mi-So, the major triad. Practice your do-re-mi's with the fiddle. It doesn't matter what note/pitch you start on.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 08/28/2020:  19:20:24


One way you can try it is to pick a recording of a straightforward tune and listen to it several times. Then see how much of it you can play. You can slow down the music to make it easier to follow if it feels too fast. Since it’s a new thing for you, don’t worry about trying to learn whole tunes or parts immediately—just focus on getting a little at a time into your head and build on that. It takes a lot of simple repetition, but you’ll make progress.

It’s common for players to take recording devices to fiddle camps to record the instructors playing tunes. You pick up as much at the camp as you can, then you go home and solidify what you’ve learned by playing along with the recording over and over.

There are even recordings made specifically for use in honing war learning skills.

Brian Wood - Posted - 08/28/2020:  19:25:31


What Lonesome fiddler said. Then think of tunes you already know. Simple tunes that everybody knows. Pick a key you're comfortable with and practice playing those tunes, slowly, painfully at first if need be. Discipline is the key to learning how to do something. As it starts to come easier choose more tunes. Keep at it because it's an endless pursuit.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 08/28/2020:  19:31:39


Might want to clarify, "Playing by ear" means to you; as it has some different aspects, and perhaps slightly different meaning for some folks (different method, exercises).

farmerjones - Posted - 08/28/2020:  19:55:35


Ditto what Ed said. This Solfeg'e (doe-rey-mi) concept will keep your intonation if not perfect, relative to itself. Like any instrument a fiddle can be tuned to itself if you don't have a reference pitch.
Not only do you have to pick a tune you know by heart, the tune must also be within your skill level. Don't be discouraged if your first pick doesn't pan out. Pick another. But again it must be known to you intimately. If it has words, so much the better.

I'll get alot of guff for this, but commit. Do not have a cheat sheet. Learning is making new neural connections, and can be physically uncomfortable. I've found when i hear a tune i wish to learn, i turn my eyes away from the player, so i don't watch hands. Sure, you can use a recorder, to learn tunes, but you still have to get it in your head. Be able to whistle or hum it.

Eventually 1 tune learned turns to 2. 2 turns to 4. 10 leads to 20, because some tunes are similar. Don't openly tell people this. Keep it your secret. For some reason it irritates people when they find out 2 tunes are the same except for the key.

Mini_Moose - Posted - 08/28/2020:  20:05:39


Great question, Riptide! smiley  Well, and fantastic responses! Those are great tips to implement in my practice, and I'll sure utilize them.  I never considered the Do Re Mi technique, so thanks, Lonesome Fiddle. yes

By the way, HOWDY Everyone!  I just started learning the fiddle (Irish trad style), so of course, I don't know what I don't know at this point, still I'm loving the learning process.





BTW, I'm from Alaska....  Hi, alaskafiddler!  From where in Alaska are you? I'm out in the Mat-Su Valley area, but work on the Slope.



Cheers, Everybody!

 

 

Mini_Moose - Posted - 08/28/2020:  20:13:16


quote:

Originally posted by farmerjones

Ditto what Ed said. This Solfeg'e (doe-rey-mi) concept will keep your intonation if not perfect, relative to itself. Like any instrument a fiddle can be tuned to itself if you don't have a reference pitch.

Not only do you have to pick a tune you know by heart, the tune must also be within your skill level. Don't be discouraged if your first pick doesn't pan out. Pick another. But again it must be known to you intimately. If it has words, so much the better.



I'll get alot of guff for this, but commit. Do not have a cheat sheet. Learning is making new neural connections, and can be physically uncomfortable. I've found when i hear a tune i wish to learn, i turn my eyes away from the player, so i don't watch hands. Sure, you can use a recorder, to learn tunes, but you still have to get it in your head. Be able to whistle or hum it.



Eventually 1 tune learned turns to 2. 2 turns to 4. 10 leads to 20, because some tunes are similar. Don't openly tell people this. Keep it your secret. For some reason it irritates people when they find out 2 tunes are the same except for the key.




 



I LOVE this post so much!!  Thanks for this great and valuable suggestion, farmerjones . "Commit"  yes, sir!    



Edited by - Mini_Moose on 08/28/2020 20:14:48

Johnbow - Posted - 08/28/2020:  20:20:14


Howdy Mini Moose. Do they say howdy in Alaska? I guess they do.

I also like the other Alaskan’s point - clarifying what the term means. For me, learning by ear, or learning a tune by ear means that I’ve internalized it solely by listening. Tricky to do on the fiddle because one also has to figure the bowing. It’s the best way to learn I think.

Johnbow - Posted - 08/28/2020:  20:51:03


quote:

Originally posted by Johnbow

Howdy Mini Moose. Do they say howdy in Alaska? I guess they do.



I also like the other Alaskan’s point - clarifying what the term means. For me, learning by ear, or learning a tune by ear means that I’ve internalized it solely by listening. Tricky to do on the fiddle because one also has to figure the bowing. It’s the best way to learn I think.






I reread my post and I definitely stated the obvious - that is, learning by ear means to do so by listening - duh.  Where I really meant to go, is to say that my approach is to simply listen to the tune and figure it out phrase by phrase/note by note.  Sometimes, the process is quick and sometimes it might take me a day or two.  I find it to be a great exercise in concentration.  I find all but the simplest passages impossible to learn in real time - I realize some folks can do this fairly easily.  Also, one device I find useful is to pluck the strings to find tones I am seeking.


Edited by - Johnbow on 08/28/2020 20:53:54

Mini_Moose - Posted - 08/28/2020:  22:24:36


Heya  Johnbow !



Pleasure to meet you and thanks for the welcome!  Ya know...I may be one of the few Alaskans that says HOWDY.  But I'm a renegade!  LOL!



Yes sir. I hear ya!  I'm not an accomplished musician.... yet, but the only way I play is by ear. I just play the melody though.....and it takes me a little more than a few days. 



LOL!  Yes, same here...internalize a song. I will listen truly for days, weeks, hours on end!  I listen to a song until I feel "it's in my bones." I find I never get tired of listening to a song; I think there are so many things to hear a song.



Ya, sure are great tips here!  I'm quite fortunate to find folks who have acquired so much knowledge AND willing to share.  I like the quote, "If you're in a room where you're the smartest person, you're in the wrong room."



I'm in the right room! wink

pete_fiddle - Posted - 08/28/2020:  23:41:26


quote:

Originally posted by Riptide

I'm desperately wanting to learn to play by ear....any advice or exercises I can do that will help me? Thanks in advance!






There's a Free program called "GNU Solfege" specifically for ear training.



sourceforge.net/p/solfege/wiki/Home/

UB2 - Posted - 08/29/2020:  04:14:12


quote:

Originally posted by alaskafiddler

Might want to clarify, "Playing by ear" means to you; as it has some different aspects, and perhaps slightly different meaning for some folks (different method, exercises).






Learning a tune without tabs sheet music etc

farmerjones - Posted - 08/29/2020:  06:10:48


It's the difference from learning a speach to be recited aloud, by reading it off a page, or by reciting from memory. How complex or lengthy the speach is, makes a difference. Also, music has many patterns and touchstones to help make it not so crunchy.

Also remember this is how, you learned your native language. You did this by being around others that spoke. It took time. One word. Two words. You did not learn to spell first. Sounds not named notes. Thinking A,A, E, C, D, A, D, A, D, etc. slows down the process. Thinking, 1, 1, 2, 5, 5, etc. (fingering/tab) slows down the process.

I used to and still learn tunes in the wrong key. Then when i find the proper/common key i move it over. I didn't know this was supposed to be difficult. It's really not. And should be an excersize done more often if it is. Be maliable like a jell.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 08/29/2020:  07:30:13


Here is how I learned how to play by ear and it goes against what most people tell you to do.

First of all, I learned how to do it at the weekly jam. If you don't have a weekly jam, you'll have to learn how to do it with recordings, which I think will be harder because you can hear yourself better and what you hear will discourage you. So try not to be discouraged. Our jam does not play at breakneck speed, but they don't play at beginner speed, either, so slow the recordings to 50% or so, but not much more than that. Keep them sounding like normal music.

Every week at the jam, a tune would start up and I would try to get one note. Just one. I'd anticipate when that note was coming around again and try to nail it. Then I'd try to get another one. Some tunes were too hard for me, but others were pretty easy. If they were too hard, one note was enough. If they were easy, I could usually get more notes.

Soon the music was in my head and I recognized the tunes. I could play a basic outline of the tune. Any tune that I didn't know, I would be doing the try to get one note thing again, and any tune that I did know I would be trying to get one more note than before.

I did this for years. I still do it. I only ever played once a week. Had I played more often maybe it would have been faster, but after several years of this I realized I could pick up most of a new tune by the end of the third time around. At least a presentable simplified version of it.

Over the years every tune, no matter how simple, I've worked to add more to it. Lacking any skills at violin I've tried to add pretty turns to waltzes, double-stops, slides and other things. I've tried to fill in the missing notes of hornpipey tunes. There's always more.

The benefit to doing it this way, building from a base of one note to an outline to filling it in little-by-little is that I learned to be flexible. When I have heard someone play a tune different from how I thought it went, I could change on the fly. I play with some people who learn a tune from someone and even learning by ear, they only can play it that one way because that's how they learned it. You want the flexibility. It leads to being able to make stuff up on the fly and add your own variations.

ChickenMan - Posted - 08/29/2020:  08:29:21


quote:

Originally posted by farmerjones

Not only do you have to pick a tune you know by heart..... it must be known to you intimately. If it has words, so much the better.

Think, childhood songs rather than pop songs, or hymns, Christmas carols and the like. 

I'll get alot of guff for this, but commit. Do not have a cheat sheet. Learning is making new neural connections, and can be physically uncomfortable. I've found when i hear a tune i wish to learn, i turn my eyes away from the player, so i don't watch hands. Sure, you can use a recorder, to learn tunes, but you still have to get it in your head. Be able to whistle or hum it.



Not looking forces some concentration, active listening. For sure hum, whistle, scat, lilt do whatever to fully internalize, especially when working from a recording. On the fly, there is less internalizing of the tune because that ear skill comes from hours and hours of practice that leads the an ability to hear it and quickly grasp the contours of the tune. 






 

alaskafiddler - Posted - 08/29/2020:  10:06:17


quote:

Originally posted by Mini_Moose

.

BTW, I'm from Alaska....  Hi, alaskafiddler!  From where in Alaska are you? I'm out in the Mat-Su Valley area, but work on the Slope.

 






61.2 N - 149.8 W



which is within the Municipality of Anchorage.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 08/29/2020:  10:28:16


quote:

Originally posted by Riptide

quote:

Originally posted by alaskafiddler

Might want to clarify, "Playing by ear" means to you; as it has some different aspects, and perhaps slightly different meaning for some folks (different method, exercises).






Learning a tune without tabs sheet music etc






Some folks mean just being able to play without notation. Learning without notation also has some differences; and parts to the process; part is the concept of "ear training", and differences of what that means. 



Learning a tune, how the tune goes; meaning the sound... that you can get into your head, hum, diddle. Don't initially worry about identifying pitches, or the key. You probably have 100s that you have already internalized.



Learning how the tune goes on an instrument... is different issue.



As others mentioned, starting with any simple tune or song melody you have in your head, you can hum it or diddle it... then finding the notes on the instrument... is good exercise.



With that tune in head; or with recordings: There is the hunt and peck method. There is the slowly going note by note method, maybe using slowdown software. There are various pitch recognition methods folks try to learn for this.



But all these IMO might be missing something that many folks "by ear" utilize. I'll make another post.



 

alaskafiddler - Posted - 08/29/2020:  10:44:28


There is this other aspect of "by ear" that most folks eventually develop and utilize. It is about developing and being familiar with the sound of musical structures or organization. Can be practiced a bit separately. Not just as learning "scales" or abstract theory (though might help) -



Listen to and pay attention to sound of how notes relate to each other, in the context of key/mode; the tonic, fifth, and other intervals, major/minor thirds, sixths sevenths... and how they work with rhythm/meter...  build schemas of sound of major key, minor key, Dorian, Mixolydian. As well can involve listen for harmonic progression or chord changes within those.



Some folks naturally develop this over time. Playing enough tunes in D major, or A major... (or other); listen, pay attention. They can pretty quickly work out a tune, narrow down predictive guess to probable note.



But can be worked on more proactively. Don't need to initially focus on the whole tune... but just phrases... and parts of phrases. This can use tunes you already play; but rather than just trying to play the sequence of notes... listen; and with many different tunes, try to take notice of the similarities of little snippets in the phrases; and how they fit in context of the key. IMO learning the sound of pentatonic frame is useful. As well actively listening to understanding how and where chord changes might be; how phrases resolve. Developing ear for these, and more, all help learning a tune by ear. 



edit: of course some of the learning a tune also involves grasping larger structure of how phrases and parts are organized... and helps to notice how the tune often contains a bunch of little repeated phrases. Really might only be needing to learn a few little phrases, maybe with just slight change to ending. Oh yeah, many notice that certain little parts of phrases might often come up in different tunes... can kind of build a little mental library. Also helps in "by ear." - others might share some of those little hints they use?



 


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 08/29/2020 10:58:38

Jimbeaux - Posted - 08/29/2020:  15:44:23


I would recommend practice tuning by ear and checking how you did by seeing if the notes are where they should be by checking octaves and unison notes against an open string, and then checking some double stops and a few licks.

Try tuning to old recordings that are off from standard A 440 tunings, or to a guitar string or piano key etc.

Cyndy - Posted - 08/29/2020:  19:09:12


So, I'm not sure what style of music you play, but approaching it from an old-time fiddle perspective, here are some quick suggestions based on things that helped me learn to pick up tunes by ear:

1) find out what key a new tune is in; it provides scaffolding for the melody

2) learn the arpeggios for the three chords most likely played in D so you're familiar with how they sound and where they are on the fingerboard -- D, G, and A

3) work on hearing chord changes (or watching a guitarist); they provide wonderful clues for which notes the melody might be using

4) work on picking out skeletal notes -- is the melody going up a scale, down a scale, is it making use of the arpeggios? if it's following the scale, figure out the starting note and go from there

5) think about whether parts of a new tune sounds like parts from a known tune

6) practice picking up new phrases from recordings regularly -- it's okay not to remember them -- it's the exercise that counts

7) at a jam, make sure to sit where it's easy to hear; it's really tough to pick up new tunes if there's no feedback on what's matching and what's not

8) if a phrase feels tough to hear, take the time to listen carefully and figure it out -- it's kind of like learning a new vocabulary word that might come in handy down the road

I also think it's really helpful to sit around playing known melodies out of a particular key -- say D. Folk tunes and hymns and the like are a little easier than, say, Broadway songs, because they don't have as many accidentals and are a little more predictable.

Mitch Reed - Posted - 09/04/2020:  03:41:22


Great question. I’m a Cajun fiddler and our tradition is completely passed down by ear. Here are a few exercises that will help you: youtu.be/pxn86fZQGYc


Edited by - Mitch Reed on 09/04/2020 03:42:14

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