I want to be able to work out songs as soon as I hear them . Part 2

Taking up from last weeks blog about working songs out by ear, there’s more I wanted to talk about.

Singing scales.
Here’s another technique that George Benson famously pioneered, singing notes as you play them. Starting out with this can be as simple as singing a scale as you practise it. Singing the letter names of say a C major scale is fine, or singing the vowels of the scale solfege style, Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Do (Google it if you’re not sure what I’m talking about) If nothing else it really is a great habit to get into, singing what you’re playing. Try it!

Tommy Emmanuel has said that as a teenager he would sit next to his record player and place coins on top of the record whilst it was playing the song he was trying to learn, this would slow the record down to a speed that would make it easier enough for him to learn the guitar solo or whatever part he was trying to figure out. Fortunately we have easier techniques to do that these days, which brings me to the software Audacity.
Audacity is one of the best learning tools to come along for musicians in the last 15 years. If you’ve not heard of it before then get onto it ASAP, Audacity is a free software from the internet that allows you to import an Mp3 as a wave form, so basically any song that you have in your itunes library, then manipulate the tempo to your liking without altering the pitch of the music. Cool eh? This is excellent when you’re trying to learn guitar solos and fast passages that need to be slowed down, the fact that it does that without slowing down the pitch is another added benefit.

Interval training
This is a popular technique and approach that has been employed by teachers for years. Basic interval training involves playing any two notes in succession and matching the two notes to a popular song. One example of this is playing a middle C then the F# above it, which co-incidentally is the first two notes of The Simpsons theme. C to G , the interval of a perfect fifth is the opening of the Star Wars theme song. The point here is to become familiar in identifying the intervals, it’s an essential skill that is one of the best routes to having an great ear for music. Here’s a little list I’ve compiled of the intervals and suggestions of their corresponding songs. The intervals will generally appear in the first few notes of the song.

Minor 2nd – Jaws theme.
Major 2nd – Happy Birthday
Minor 3rd – I want to be happy / Greensleaves
Major 3rd – When The Saints Go Marching In
Perfect 4th – Amazing Grace
Tri-Tone – The Simpsons
Perfect 5th – Star Wars
Minor 6th – The Entertainer
Major 6th – My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocen
Dominant 7th – Somewhere ( West Side Story)
Major 7th Take on Me – (Chorus)
Octave – Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

So there you go, aural training in two parts.

Let me know what you think.

As always, practice, practice, practice!

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