Having an "ear" is a quality which allows the listener who listens to musical notes to recognize them or know if they are right. Perfect pitch is a subjective sensation that arises in the mind of the listener, allowing him or her to identify the note accurately instantly without any benchmarks or points of comparison. If many experts think that perfect pitch is an innate gift, know that it is possible to work on your ear thanks to a few simple exercises so that it can more accurately identify the notes. Do not confuse absolute pitch, which allows you to recognize musical notes without a reference point, and relative pitch, which allows you to recognize notes by comparing them to others.
Part 1 of 3: become familiar with musical notes
Step 1. Listen to each note repeatedly
Choose a note that you want to learn. Start with something simple, like a la or a do. Play and replay the note to automatically absorb its sound. This is the crudest form of memorization, which involves learning the sound of a particular note and absorbing as much of its auditory properties as possible.
Step 2. Assign other qualities to the grade
Instead of just hearing the sound of the note, try “seeing” or even “feeling” it. Does this note evoke a certain emotion or sensation in you? Does it make you think of a color or give you an impression on a certain type of stage? Try to isolate the characteristics of the note. Your ear will start to improve once you develop a creative musical memory.
- Musicians often describe this type of practice as “colorful listening” or the use of other sensory parameters to install sound in the listener's memory.
- For example, minor chords often elicit a sense of melancholy in the listener, while major tones are associated with joy, triumph, or excitement.
Step 3. Associate the note with another sound
Think of other non-musical sounds this note reminds you of. By making sound associations, you will solidify the tonal structure of the note in your mind. An E flat could, for example, evoke the foghorn of a cruise liner.
Musicians who use this mnemonic form visual representations of the notes in their minds, making them easier to remember
Step 4. Learn the variations of a note
To have ear, you have to be able to tell which notes vibrate at a higher or lower frequency than the others. You should therefore learn to recognize the same notes on different octaves in addition to their overall tone, as well as the accidentals of each note. If you familiarize yourself with these variations, you will have a better hearing for whether the note is right or if it is slightly too low or too high.
- A note is “sharp” when it is a semitone higher than its base frequency and is “flat” when it is a semitone lower.
- There are a lot of errors in musical tones due to the lack of familiarity with the variations of a note.
Part 2 of 3: practice identifying notes
Step 1. Practice identifying one note at a time
Once you have started to learn the different notes of the scale, you might choose one to discern among the others. Have a friend play notes randomly on the keyboard and be on the lookout for the note you want to detect. When you think you hear that note, signal it and check whether or not you got it right by looking at which key just pressed or asking the person playing.
Learn one or two notes at a time. This way, you won't find yourself overwhelmed with information, and you'll learn the other notes and modes more easily later on
Step 2. Randomly identify the notes
Do a more advanced variation of the previous exercise, asking your friend to slowly play notes at random and try to name each note that has just been played. This training is difficult and requires that you have a good knowledge of the acoustic profile of each note. Your memorization will be greatly enhanced.
When you are able to identify each note correctly, you can add the flats and sharps
Step 3. Form an understandable agreement
A chord is a complex and harmonious sound, made up of several notes played at the same time. With a sophisticated ear, you should be able to name not only a given chord, but also every note that makes it up. Practice listening to chords allows you to progress to identify individual notes and recognize different chords played at random.
It is difficult to recognize chords and it is thanks to experience that we can achieve it. The listener should be able to isolate individual notes in the chord, as well as identify the chord itself
Step 4. Listen to notes from unusual sources
Pay attention to the sounds around you. Many strange noises can be likened to clearer or more sustained musical notes. The next time you hear a horn, siren, or alarm, try to relate it to a note you have in mind. This maneuver will be easier if you have made mental associations between musical notes and non-musical sounds.
- Walk around your house to identify notes made by your cell phone, microwave oven buttons, trash can, jingling silverware, etc.
- The term "note" generally refers to a localized sound that maintains a constant frequency. There are therefore notes constantly generated in our daily life, even outside of a musical context!
Part 3 of 3: learn to reproduce the notes at will
Step 1. Sing different notes
Strengthen the connection between your ear and distinct sounds by repeating notes aloud. Spend a few minutes a day singing a selection of notes as accurately as possible and trying to form a clear “picture” of each note in your mind. Just as you learned to recognize notes as they are played, you could now try to reverse this skill by producing a given note on command.
- Don't be embarrassed if you can't sing. Practice alone so you don't experience the stress of singing in the presence of someone else.
- Learning to sing in tune is also part of the basics of music.
Step 2. Play each note on several instruments
Since color is not a concrete characteristic of a sound, but rather a way for the ear to perceive, it can be useful to get used to the different colors of a note when played on different instruments. Each instrument produces unique vibrational characteristics that influence the tonal quality of the notes produced, but the notes themselves remain recognizable, as they are defined by their base frequency and sound the same regardless of the instrument.
Play the same scale with a piano, guitar, flute, and violin, and examine the similarities and differences in how each note is produced
Step 3. Get someone to put you to work
Have a friend recite a random series of notes, then sing all the notes. Pick up the pace as you become more proficient at producing the notes. Increase the difficulty of the exercise by incorporating sharp and flat notes.
Use an electronic tuner for instant feedback on the pitch you are singing
Step 4. Practice
Work on your new knowledge of the acoustic properties of musical notes to improve your technique. Practicing recognizing musical notes will not be of much use to you if you do not apply this knowledge in musical creation or performance. Nothing replaces practice.
In addition to training your ear, you could try observing the progression of notes in songs that are played on the radio, mentally playing the sheet music, and then after a listen or two, trying to play those songs on the radio. the ear on an instrument
- Although some experts say perfect pitch is an innate gift that cannot be learned, there are more and more studies that show that this is not necessarily always the case, but it is clear that it is not given to everyone… If it is not innate in you, it will take you more time and effort than those who have this sensitivity naturally, but it will remain a skill that you will have the possibility to work. Take into account that if you are not a musician you do not know if you have perfect pitch, only regular music practice can help you determine this.
- Everyone has the ability to improve their ear. Practice telling yourself that you'll get in perfect pitch, that it's just a matter of time and work.
- When you are new to singing, choose a range you are comfortable with.
- By working with a music teacher, you will have the opportunity to learn new exercises and theory, which will help you improve.
- Don't be discouraged if you find that your ear is not growing as quickly as you would like. Perfect pitch can take years of practice and some people never will …