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At what point did you develope a solid ear

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Trist6075, Jun 10, 2002.


  1. Trist6075

    Trist6075 Guest

    Mar 6, 2001
    I want to work on improving my ear for the bass so that I can recognize a note when I hear it. I feel that this is something important to learn but I don't know how to go about it. Has anyone tried those ear training kits from the ads in the back of the Bass Player mags? What do it yourself technigues work the best? Oh yeah and how long did it take all you guys to get it down?


    thanks
     
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I don't have perfect pitch (and I don't think it's that useful), but I have pretty good relative pitch.

    One time I was at a party and I somehow got the idea of how to tap "Message In A Bottle". When I came home I tried it, and later I found out that I got the pitch absolutely right, without hearing the tune.
    I can also tune pretty close to pitch without tuner.

    I can't remember when I learned that, I used to play classical violin prior to bass though.

    As far as I remember the research, perfect pitch is not really something you can learn. You can learn very good relative pitch though, even as good you can almost regard it as perfect pitch.

    A google search might give some more info on that topic.
     
  3. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I find that I can get really close to correct tunning just by the feel and tension of a string.

    I do need to plug it in and hear it better before I can tune up though.

    I just thought of something!

    If your bass has good intonation, then cant you just play the 12 fret harmonic versus the 12 fret note and compare untill you get the string in tune!

    I wanna try it, but its 5:22 am over here on the east coast, and I still havent slept.

    Im addicted to TalkBass!

    Peace
    Nick
     
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Um, this is how you <b>set up</b> intonation.
     
  5. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    At first, when I was just hearing stuff with my ears, I would listen to some Satchmo, and he would be like Bop ba-dop da da bop bop ba. And that really blew my mind. But when Bird came later, he was doing Be da-ba-da-ba-da bop ba be be ba bop da dop bop sis bam booey.
     
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Maybe I'm different, but it came to me in stages:

    Stage 1. I have no idea if I am playing anything remotely correct.

    Stage 2. I can tell that the bass is in tune.

    Stage 3. I can tell that I am in the right key.

    Stage 4. I can tell the root of the chord.

    Stage 5. I can tell if the chord is major, minor, diminished or augmented.

    The next stage for me (not there yet) is hearing the upper partials (is it a 7th chord, 9th, 13th? b5? etc.) , alterations, substitutions, etc.

    What helps me grow my ears is playing music that contains the elements I'm trying to hear better. If you want to be able to pick out by ear the many variations on the 12 bar blues, learn (by rote if necessary) and play lots of versions of the 12 bar blues. Right now, I am hacking my way through jazz standards and my ears are starting to prick up a little bit.
     
  7. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I know, I do my own setup and do it for some firends as well.

    What I meant was once the intonation is correct, if you are out of tune, the 12th fret harmonic and fretted note would be different, right?

    So to get to the correct tunning, you should just compensate for the difference by tightening or loosening the string.

    It also works backwards too. When your intonation is off for standard tunning, it is right when the string is tunned differently.

    Get what Im saying now?

    Peace
    Nick
     
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    How important can it be??? Look at who's on the Billboard charts these days! :D One of the most off-key artists I've ever heard perform live is Melissa Etheridge, a Berklee grad. Yet, she gets away with it (and that includes her 12-string!).

    Seriously, I never bit on an ad about ear training because NOT ONE of my music instructors/prof's ever spent any time on "training the ear." Maybe they were naive; maybe they were wise.

    Also, according to studies by neuro-psychologists, developing pitch skills wanes with age. When we're infants, detecting and interpreting pitch is a crucial survival skill that erodes as we develop and become less dependent on it.

    As brianrost says - play, play, play! The skill becomes more vital, just like when you were in diapers.

    And if you can, - record, record, record!

    Believe it or not, there was a time when a 440 tuning fork vibrating between our teeth was all the "perfect pitch" my old bands had to rely on.
    :eek:
     
  9. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I think it does.

    It came up when someone mentioned being able to tell that his bass was in tune by ear.

    And this has to do with tunning by ear.

    Im saying that by using the principles used to set up intonation, you can work backwards and use your sense of relative pitch to tune a bass.

    Oh and BTW


    Yes Nick, everyone gets what you're saying. You don't seem to get that what you're saying doesn't have anything to do with this thread.

    Get what I'm saying now?


    Even if this was out of place I would still like to know what did I do to you for you to be so rude?:confused:

    Whatever dude, Im done.

    Peace
    Nick
     
  10. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I think relative pitch is any musicians friend, especially one that plays with others.

    And if you play fretless, there is nothing more useful than a good ear.

    Sometimes people can get away with less than perfect ears if they just have to read off a sheet and push down on a few frets or keys, but I admire those with the abiliy to effectively play instruments which require a good sense of pitch.

    Peace
    Nick
     
  11. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    No - the 12th fret harmonic is going to be the same note as the fundamental, no matter what the fundamental is. Like bassman134 said, the harmonic's pitch also depends on string tension, as well as string length.

    As for the original question, IMHO nobody ever "gets it all down". Once you hear things differently from the average Joe, then you are a musician. As for improving your ear, listening carefully and critically to both your playing and to music in general, seems to be the best way, but it isn't a quick process.

    I agree 100% with previous posters that said relative pitch is more useful than perfect pitch - although with a good knowledge of theory and a brain that worked at a zillion miles an hour, it'd amount to the same thing. I don't know about the Bass Player kits, but once in a while I'll hear a low note and recognize the pitch from memory.

    On the brianrost scale, I'm probably somewhere in Stage 5.
     
  12. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Yes, but the 12 fret wont be the same note as the fundamental.

    Peace
    Nick
     
  13. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Yes it will. A correctly intonated string is in tune only with itself. The string could be at any pitch and be correctly intonated, but only one pitch to be in tune.
     
  14. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Oh dear what have I gotten myself into.

    This was written in response to thrash_jazz's response to an earlier post of mine.

    I think you miss understood what I was saying.

    I was saying that when the bass is correctly intonated, but out of tune, they will be diffrent.

    I agree that on a corectly intonated in tune bass, it will be the same.

    Peace
    Nick
     
  15. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Nick, I confess I don't understand how you can use this to tune.

    Since the 12th fret is the same note as the open string, one octave up, it will always be the fundamental, no matter what the string is tuned to.

    Here are the physics of it: The 12th fret is the halfway point between the nut and the bridge. Since pitch is directly proportional to string length, if you do the math, the frequency will be 2x that of the open string, or one octave higher.

    The same thing applies to the 12th fret harmonic, which is basically a first overtone. The distance is halved, so the pitch is doubled. No matter what the pitch of the open string is, the frequency is exactly double on a correctly intonated bass.
     
  16. OMG...Now people are getting 'Fuqua-ed' on the BG forums!

    I think brianrost said it best. But somewhere in there, maybe between 3 and 4, you should get your interval recognition down. Look at it this way...you can find a single note by hearing it, right? Well, once you do that, the rest of the line, solo, whatever, is just a series of intervals. If you know your intervals you'll be able to transcribe stuff much faster.

    Do interval training! Get used to hearing m6, p5, maj7, #11, etc. Then have someone play intervals and see if you can recognize them.

    A good way to remember intervals is to use a song or line as an example. I was taught many, many moons ago that the beginning of 'Love Story' was a minor 6. That's how I remembered it.

    Hope this helps/
     
  17. snoogin

    snoogin

    Jun 15, 2002
    Sioux city Iowa
    I started playing trombone in 5th grade. If any instrument can train your ear it's that. In a way it's kind of like a no-lined fretless. You have to rely on muscle memory and your ear. Another thing that may help is just digging into your albums and learning songs. Even the ones you don't like.
     
  18. The course leader of the Jazz degree I am studying told me a strange story about Perfect Pitch.

    One of his friends had perfect pitch and has real problems listening to music. If it wasn't perfectly in tune then he couldn't bear listening to it (not in a snotty way, he just can't bear it, it grates on him). James (the course leader) witnessed this first hand. He put some 'classical' music on the record player, and due to the physics of the record player the music was slightly off-pitch. The guy had to leave the room, he couldn't stand it. He also allegedly left a classical concert in the first few minutes because it was slightly out of tune.

    Anyway relative pitch is definitely the way to go (for me).
     
  19. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    I have a good friend who has the same problem...true perfect pitch. He actually had to "dumb down" his ears so he could tolerate listening to music.

    Nick man...to non-rudely illustrate (I know Ed wasn't being intentionally rude) why what you believe to be so is actually incorrect, try this...pick up your bass and play the harmonic above the 12th fret. Any string'll do. Reach up and tighten or loosen the tuning machine. Does the pitch change? Yes it does.

    If you're looking for a way to tune your bass relative to itself (let's assume your G string is in tune), play the harmonic above the 7th fret on the G string, and while it's ringing play the harmonic above the 5th fret on the D string. Same note. Works all the way across the bass.

    I know many of us are long aware of this...but let's remember the cats who aren't.
     
  20. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Oooops...did I edit that reply fast enough:oops: ?