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Ear Fatigue

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Jeremy Darrow, Mar 14, 2013.


  1. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings
    Sometimes, usually when I'm already tired, I find that my ears fatigue very quickly when I'm practicing with a drone. I can usually get refreshed after a ten minute break from the drone. But sometimes I can't, and it becomes really difficult to get dialed in to the drone, even on the perfect intervals which usually tend to leap out. Has anyone else experienced this? Any techniques to deal with it?
     
  2. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    May I ask what a drone is?
     
  3. GrowlerBox

    GrowlerBox

    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    By the time you've seen one, it's usually too late.
     
  4. Ryker_M

    Ryker_M

    May 10, 2012
    London, Ontario
    In musical terms, it's an unchanging pitch. Or if it does change, it doesn't change very much.

    The Beatles actually used them in some songs. :)

    However, when it comes to ear fatigue using them; I find that my ear does start to lose it after awhile. Some mornings when my orchestra tunes, we use 11 notes from a tuner. So each clef gets A, D and G. Violins and bass get an E, cello and viola get a C.

    After the five minutes that takes, I find the differences start to become less and less pronounced. Although, I've never actually practiced with a drone.
     
  5. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Cool I wonder if one of those Beatles songs was "rain"?
     
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    :)
     
  7. Ryker_M

    Ryker_M

    May 10, 2012
    London, Ontario
    From my experiences, it isn't. But I'm not a Beatles expert.
     
  8. As an alternative learn to hear the structure of a tetrachord, like a ladder with very carefully set distances between rungs. For instance take the first 4 notes of D Major. The distances between notes are tone, tone, semi-tone. If your bass is in tune then G is the Perfect 4th above D. Carefully infill E and F sharp. Memorize the structure as though you are aiming darts at very fine lines on the wall. Sing the four notes as you slap your hands together. Be definite.

    Then pull apart the last 4 notes just as positively, aiming ahead at the coming D octave.
    Each tetrachord has the same structure and note spacings. The last four notes of the D scale are the same as the first four of A Major.

    Then shift your tetrachords up half a tone to E flat Major and hear the same structure(s) move sideways. Repeat the singing as you mentally throw darts at the notes. Then apply the structures to any key, Major or minor.

    As I practice scales I pause momentarily between each tetrachord. If I play two or more octaves I repeat each octave note to restart the groupings. What I am trying to do is create more"landings" (aiming points) in a long flight of stairs, coming out at the final note still focused and in tune.

    I rarely use drones, or a tuner (except to tune the bass).

    Worth trying?

    DP
     
  9. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I get this when I'm transcribing. It gets so I can't seem to identify any pitch after an hour or so of intense listening. I just take a break and come back later. I suspect that the longer you do it, the longer it takes to become fatiqued. Sorry if all I'm doing is confirming your observation.
     
  10. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    It's probably just the brain burning out (especially since it happens mostly when you're already tired). The same would probably happen if you were to listen to some atonal piano pieces one after another. After a while the brain's like, "arrright, that's enough".. though I'm sure general tiredness + all the sounds one has already taken in and had to process iover the course of a day would do the trick too.
     
  11. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings
    This is extremely helpful! Thanks!
     
  12. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings
    I agree. It's as if someone has been repeating a single word to me over and over again. Eventually, the word seems to lose any meaning and just becomes nonsense sounds.
     
  13. ThomClaire

    ThomClaire

    Dec 31, 2012
    Asheville, NC
    Thanks for yet another great explanation, David. How about playing the first tetrachord of D Maj. while bowing the G string as well? As in, double stop the d and g, then e and open g, f sharp and open g to g on the d string and open g. Do you think that would help in hearing (and remembering) the structure of the tetrachord?
     
  14. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    What do you use to produce the drone. If it's a nasal twang from a tuner, I can see how that would fatigue the ear.

    I use an electronic keyboard. I went through all the patches and found the purest note available - a chapel organ tone. I use a piece of tape to hold down the note. I set the volume so it matches the loudness of the bass. That way I can really hear the pulsing of the interference of the two vibrations. Here's an example of G minor.

    I alternate between using the root of the scale and the fifth of the scale to create different interval relationships. Sometimes I use the bass to create the drone and sing up and down the scale to get a more tactile sensation of the interval in question. When a keyboard is not available, I play the open D and go up and down a scale based on D (major, minor, hijaz) as in the first minute of this video.
     
  15. I don't get this as much in practice, but whenever I tune my piano I have to work for a bit, then walk away, and come back later. There is a point when my ears just do not hear what they need to hear because of the stress of dedicated listening to individual pitches.

    You may benefit from breaking up your drone practice with something else, scales, etudes, excerpts, etc. In playing there typically is a larger sonic soundscape to keep the interested. Maybe the term shouldn't be fatigue, but ear boredom.
     
  16. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings
    I've been using a korg tuner to generate the drone, usually on the 5th. I've found that if I drop the pitch an octave I have fewer problems. I guess that I was using too high a pitch.
     

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