Ear training - Develop Your Relative and Absolute Pitch


Hello guys and gals, in this lesson I will discuss why every guitar player should be doing a little ear training, and how to do it.


If you dedicate some practice time to this, you can easily improve your level of playing. You'll be able to plays songs and guitar solo's you like by just listening to them a few times! This way, you finally won't need any TABs anymore to be able to play the songs you like. Before TABs existed, every guitar player did ear training in one way or another, and a lot of guitar players could play entirely by ear.


Ear training

As we know, music can be thought of as a language. In the beginning, we hear music and we like it but we can not speak the language itself yet on the guitar, as we can not properly recognize notes and chords yet.


Music consists of three elements: melodies, chords and rhythms. Ear training deals with recognizing melodies and chords.


Let me stress here that ear training is not just about HEARING, it's also about FEELING. The body is very sensitive to vibrations. This can help when learning ear training. How? By singing. During these exercises, try to sing the various notes, match their pitch with your voice. This will definately give you even better ear training results.


The ear: relative pitch and absolute pitch There are two ways to recognize the pitch of a given note. You can identify the note's pitch relative to a key, or, to a note that went before that note. This is called relative pitch.


The other way is being able to recognize the absolute pitch of a note. Let's say someone plays you a random key oon a piano, if you have developed absolute pitch you could name that note out of the blue and say, for instance: 'That's an E flat'.


There is a lot a common myth about having absolute pitch. Some people believe it to be genetic, eg. you either have it or you don't. I personally have concluded that this is not entirely true. Both relative pitch and absolute pitch can be developed over time, if you train a little.


Developing your relative pitch

The first and easiest thing to do is to train your relative pitch. This is done be learning how to recognize and name INTERVALS. An interval is the distance between any two notes. These are the names of the most important diatonic (which means 'belonging to the modes or transpositions of the major scale', namely C D E F G A B C, also known as do-re-mi-...) intervals:


c - c: prime (the distance between a 'c' and itself)

c - d: major second (the distance between that 'c' and the 'd')

c - e: major third

c - f: perfect fourth

c - g: perfect fifth

c - a: major sext

c - b: major seventh

c - high c: octave


Once you can recognize these intervals by ear and name them, you've developed a big part of your relative pitch skills.

Ear training - good ear
Good-ear: a good website for eartraining.


The easiest way to learn these intervals and TRAIN YOUR RELATIVE PITCH is on the internet! Good news, eh?


Here's 'Good-ear', a website that offers eartraining on all levels, and i'm very fond of it: http://www.good-ear.com/


Go to 'enter' --> 'beginner' --> 'simple intervals'. Now you can start listening to, memorizing and naming intervals like the prime, major third, perfect fifth and octave. Once you can do so flawlessly, move on to 'intervals' --> 'diatonic intervals up'. There you can train all intervals i've described above.


Developing your absolute pitch

You can also develop your absolute pitch with training. Some people won't believe this, but don't let them fool you.


A note with a given pitch has a certain, fixed frequency. You can recognize that note after having heard it a lot of times. That way, your inner ear will be able to 'feel' the frequency of the note and you'll recognize it.


By far the easiest way to train this every day in 5 seconds, is when you pick up the guitar to practice. We assume your guitar is still in tune. Play the first string, the high E. Listen to it. Than, just continue to practice like usual. Do this EVERY DAY you practice. In time, you'll be able to SING THAT HIGH E before having played it. Combine your ability of recognizing that high E with you developed relative pitch, and you'll have developed a degree of absolute pitch!


Here you are. The easiest way to develop relative and absolute pitch. I hope this will help you. Keep it up, take care and until next time!


Ear training