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Oct 1, 2023 - 7:40:34 PM
5 posts since 9/25/2023

Hey! I'm wondering how folks here improve their ears (relative pitch, chord progression recognition, recognizing sharp/flat, etc). If you could point me to any of your favorite exercises or resources I would appreciate it. So far I have just been using this web app for ear training called ToneScholar (tonescholar.com) and it seems quite good, but is not specific to fiddle. In fact it's all voice-based, so probably better for singers. I'd love to be able to improve my ear while improving my skills on the fiddle simultaneously. I only have so much time to practice ;) Thanks in advance!

Oct 2, 2023 - 5:52:26 AM
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3354 posts since 10/22/2007

Google, Solfe'ge. I.e., doe-ray-me-fa-so-la-te-doe. You may already have good relative pitch, and not know it.

Oct 2, 2023 - 9:27:06 AM

2489 posts since 4/6/2014

Totally Free Ear Training and more

https://www.gnu.org/software/solfege/solfege.html

Oct 2, 2023 - 9:43:35 AM
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14 posts since 9/28/2023

What helps me the most is trying to play along with songs on the radio (remember those? I guess most would say streaming these days).

It helps if the song is familiar. I usually use a keyboard/piano since I can find the full chords easier. When in the car, I use a harmonica.

Another sure fire way to improve your ear is to start transcribing what you hear.

Oct 2, 2023 - 1:39:57 PM

2479 posts since 12/11/2008

I honestly can't remember how I trained my ears and fingers. Maybe it was playing years and years of the blues with my friends. Or sitting at the piano, pressing Middle C, and getting familiar with the way the notes sounded when I pressed the white keys both to the north and south.

Oct 2, 2023 - 2:16:53 PM
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Swing

USA

2342 posts since 6/26/2007

I would suggest that you can enhance your ear during your practice session... start to learn different scales... Bb minor, Eb minor, Augmented scales, learn to play them all over the neck. As you become proficient at them you will hear the subtle differences, and as you hear the subtle difference it will help you recognize in all keys when you are playing in tune etc.... This will also help you to learn to recognize what notes or scales are being played when you listen to a tune. Ear training is a wonderful thing to explore....

Play Happy

Swing

Oct 2, 2023 - 5:05:49 PM
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2514 posts since 8/23/2008

'Interval Recognition' will give you relative pitch, chord progression and quality, and scale type; intervals are supposed to be practiced on the fiddle anyway...

Oct 3, 2023 - 6:03 AM
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Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2648 posts since 2/2/2008

How about just taking a tune, or song, that's in your head and then find the notes on the fiddle. Get tunes in your head by just listening, or maybe humming, whistling or singing along.

Oct 4, 2023 - 4:16:06 PM

3623 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by invisiblewasp

Hey! I'm wondering how folks here improve their ears (relative pitch, chord progression recognition, recognizing sharp/flat, etc). If you could point me to any of your favorite exercises or resources I would appreciate it. So far I have just been using this web app for ear training called ToneScholar (tonescholar.com) and it seems quite good, but is not specific to fiddle. In fact it's all voice-based, so probably better for singers. I'd love to be able to improve my ear while improving my skills on the fiddle simultaneously. I only have so much time to practice ;) Thanks in advance!


To the question of how I improved my ears.

I started long before there were apps, or special ear training courses or exercises; nor measuring devices tuners. Like most other folks I knew back then, old-fashioned ways; mostly involved just listening.

Like most back then, using normal ears, built up years of experience listening to music as basis; assumed good enough to have absorbed aspects of sound; thus discriminate sounds and qualities of sound; and tell what subjectively sounded good, (or didn't) in context of the music. Experience also came from voice based; informal singing of songs, by ear. Wasn't much any intentional analysis or exercises, just listening.

Playing instruments, followed that experience, along much same path; just started right in playing music and listening. New was needing to learn how to find those notes on the instrument (rather than voice). With this, playing lots of music; started absorbing a lot of aspects;  as well noticing paying attention to there's a structure; how pitches seem related in different contexts. Perhaps because had a visual and kinesthetic aspects how notes are laid out... as well nature of playing music on instrument esp guitar, with others... more of the idea of note name, key, mode, and chords; what made chords, chord progressions; building and deepening understanding of various concepts, how music works in different contexts; and transferable abstractions (music theory). Again, mostly exposed and/or absorbed from process of just playing music; songs/tunes; as well as experimenting and noodling; listening and paying attention to what works. Playing lot's of music; noticed more things, and improved my ears; simultaneously improving skills on instrument(s), I think as bit symbiotic.

Not to say, along the way also incorporated a bit more under the hood analysis, concepts, problem solving or very specific focus on one aspect trying to understand, devising some experiment/exercise for that; asking why do things sound sound good or not; or so different, gives qualities; including various light bulb moments. That understanding in turn probably helped improve ears by raising awareness, pointing what to listen for, in various context.  

Perhaps those modern approach using some apps is better? (not sure what ToneScholar does, or addresses) I remain bit skeptical of most of the "ear training" products/courses and overall marketed claims or results. But those approaches might work for individual. FWIW, that it's voice based, fiddle doesn't require different ears; and voice might perhaps better.

 

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 10/04/2023 16:20:07

Oct 4, 2023 - 4:29:50 PM
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3623 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

.... You may already have good relative pitch, and not know it.


I have found most folks do.

If most listeners didn't, then it wouldn't be much important.

Oct 4, 2023 - 4:39:56 PM

2599 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by invisiblewasp

Hey! I'm wondering how folks here improve their ears (relative pitch, chord progression recognition, recognizing sharp/flat, etc). If you could point me to any of your favorite exercises or resources I would appreciate it. So far I have just been using this web app for ear training called ToneScholar (tonescholar.com) and it seems quite good, but is not specific to fiddle. In fact it's all voice-based, so probably better for singers. I'd love to be able to improve my ear while improving my skills on the fiddle simultaneously. I only have so much time to practice ;) Thanks in advance!


Like others, my understanding of these things developed naturally as I started to sing along to the radio and then play instruments. I doesn't seem likely one can learn much about the building blocks of music in a vacuum. You have to build on what you know so far. Most likely you are actively involved in listening to and enjoying music. From there you can learn to understand intervals and chord progressions by learning to recognize the similar features in different tunes or songs. There are a few common chord progressions you should be able to recognize when you put your mind to it. The 1 4 5 progression. The relative minor. The minor 2. The major 2. The major 3 to the 4. The sub-tonic. These can be described in different terms but the point is to learn to recognize them in music you already are familiar with. With this method you don't need time to practice. Find the tunes that clearly represent those chord changes and hum them to yourself while doing other things. If you can list some songs or tunes in any style that you know then people here can help you identify the changes in them, and you can take it from there.

Oct 4, 2023 - 6:19:42 PM

389 posts since 12/2/2013

Here’s a simple one for your ear, play the root of the key only repeatedly while listening to a 145 song. When the root of the key does not sound right they’re on the five chord, continue with this method on the two the three the four the five etc. and see which notes of the scale harmonize with each of the chords.

Oct 4, 2023 - 9:31:20 PM

3354 posts since 10/22/2007

Understand a fretted instrument, early on, one can mimic another and intonation isn't an issue. However a fretless fiddle's intonation must come from the operator, obviously. So the fiddler's mental model, of tone must be within. Can you sing, Boil the Cabbage? Can you sing, Shortening Bread? One needs to build these mental models/examples. These songs are within, Doe, Ray, Mee, etc. All songs and tunes are within a scale. Then it's like making a canoe: Chop down a tree, and remove everything that is not a canoe. Again, providing one knows what a canoe, looks like. In the same way one should know how a song/tune should go by memory. But it starts, and ends there: memorizing song & tunes.

Oct 5, 2023 - 7:13:07 AM
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256 posts since 11/26/2013

For intonation early on I would play a closed note and play the adjacent open string to hear the harmony to it. Like playing a B on the A string and the open D. You will hear when the B is in the right position. Do that for all the closed notes on a string up to the 7th note (or fret for you fretted instrument folks). You will hear when the note is correct. DO that for 15-20 min before you start any actual tune practicing, it will limber up your ears. But there really is no substitue for scale practice. They are the building block of any tune, so its really important to be able to hear and visualize them or the little snippets of scales that make up a tune.

Oct 5, 2023 - 8:17:11 AM
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Erockin

USA

922 posts since 9/3/2022

As for intonation....it does get better! Everyday I'm amazing when my finger lands on the right note.

Oct 5, 2023 - 9:37:45 AM
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wilford

USA

507 posts since 6/26/2007

The most important step for me, is to make absolute sure the fiddle is in perfect tune across the open strings. The second is to practice scales over and over, stopping to check to verify I'm playing on pitch.

Oct 5, 2023 - 10:15:06 AM

Erockin

USA

922 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Erockin

As for intonation....it does get better! Everyday I'm amazed when my finger lands on the right note. lol


Oct 10, 2023 - 5:01:30 PM

837 posts since 8/10/2017

Wow, I just posted in the Playing Advice forum that I recently bought a really good book by Tricia Spencer (of Spencer and Rains) called Fiddle Garden. The beginning of the book tells you how to get good at intonation in a really helpful and unique way using double-stop cheat chords and double-note scales.

Oct 10, 2023 - 5:39:15 PM

2514 posts since 8/23/2008

What are 'cheat chords'...

Oct 21, 2023 - 7:23:50 PM
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Peghead

USA

1711 posts since 1/21/2009

I would get a transcribing software, there are several out there. I use "The Amazing Slow Downer" Roni Music. Take a tune you like, adjust the pitch if you need to and reduce the tempo to where it's comfortable for you and you can hear it cleanly. Then listen to it a lot (a whole lot!!) Take it a few beats at a time (or what ever you can retain) and try to copy what you hear. Pause, rewind (or loop) play, pause rewind, play, pause. I have a Midi foot pedal which is awesome so I don't have to keep putting the bow down. Practice what you have for a while and come back to it check it again in a few days. You may hear it differently when you come back to it later. Keep refining it until you can play along even if it's really slow that's fine. Listen for anything that's not quite right and slow it down some more until you're sure. That's the essence of ear playing in a nut shell.

Edited by - Peghead on 10/21/2023 19:24:53

Nov 6, 2023 - 5:32:12 AM
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2319 posts since 7/4/2007

Here are a few ideas:

1. Don't passively tune with a tuner. First, tune all 4 strings with only one tone, preferably a tone that is not the same as one of the strings. Start with a C note drone from an electronic tuner or phone app. Tune your G string to tune the C, then the others to the C and G. Check your ear with the electronic tuner after you think you got it in tune to see how close you are. F is also a good starting note tuning the A string first.

2. Chromatic glissando scales using one finger with a open drone. The F scale on the E string works good using the open A (3rd). Several notes in this scale will give you pure, easier to hear, double-stop intonation.

3. Pentatonic (doublestop) scales using open string drones. 

4. Learn and play simple melodies or phrases you already know from genres other than fiddle music. Then play them in multiple keys, preferably around the Circle of 4ths. The hymn, Just As I Am is very nice. You can practice intonation, bowing and vibrato all at the same time. 

Edited by - fiddlenbanjo on 11/06/2023 05:40:26

Nov 6, 2023 - 6:14 PM

2319 posts since 7/4/2007

quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry

What are 'cheat chords'...


I'm guessing that "cheat chords" are double-stops that don't have the root of the chord you're playing over, but that still work.   Sorta like chord substitution.  

 

Sixths doublestops scales are good for this. 

Nov 7, 2023 - 2:45:56 AM
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2514 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlenbanjo
quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry

What are 'cheat chords'...


I'm guessing that "cheat chords" are double-stops that don't have the root of the chord you're playing over, but that still work.   Sorta like chord substitution.  

 

Sixths doublestops scales are good for this. 


Within the inversions of a triad there are two 6th double stops, the one with root omitted is the 'cheat chord'...? I play them all the time, never called them that.

 I suspect it's layman's terms for playing open strings...

Nov 7, 2023 - 5:42:53 AM
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3354 posts since 10/22/2007

"Cheat chord" came from the book from Spencer & Rains, called Fiddle Garden.
Short of forking out the $28, One would have to ask Tricia Spencer what was meant.

Nov 18, 2023 - 9:49:50 AM
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6463 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

"Cheat chord" came from the book from Spencer & Rains, called Fiddle Garden.
Short of forking out the $28, One would have to ask Tricia Spencer what was meant.


OR, and I know this is a radical thought, we could be patient and let Diane answer since she brought it up wink

Edited by - ChickenMan on 11/18/2023 09:50:21

Nov 18, 2023 - 10:47:49 AM

124 posts since 4/17/2023

In my teaching I've found that many students have self imposed obstacles / ideas between their music and their ears. I ask them (in so many words) to

get rid of tape
get rid of electronic tuners
get rid of jargon learned from the internet or other teachers

and trust their own ears

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