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Ear training for chord quality?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sleeplessknight, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Hey all, I've been struggling the last couple of years to be able to hear intervals, and despite myself I seem to be making some progress. I recently saw some jazz cats in a pickup situation completely rock the house... with no charts. A new-to-the-jam singer called an obscure vocal tune, the guitarist knew it, and a quick discussion of 'oh yeah, that's in D minor...' ensued. The pianist picked up on the changes after the first chorus, with the bass following soon after. I didn't see any obvious hand-staring going on, and the tune was reasonably complicated ('All Sides Now', which I found out later was a rare and beautiful Pat Martino ballad) and 'non-standard sounding'. I asked the bassist and pianist afterwards how they did it, and they were just like "Oh, do some ear training on chord-quality. It's easy once you've got that down". They might as well have said "Oh, just build a rocket-ship out of wood and head to the moon, man. It's easy like that!" :p

    So, my question for the collective is - I'm familiar with drilling intervals to get 'interval-quality' (maj 2nd, min 6th, etc), any tips on how to train for identifying 'chord quality' like that?
  2. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012

    ^ Some exercises and quizzes there. It's the same thing, basically. Everything is intervals.
  3. punkrocko


    Jun 18, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    That is something I’ve been working on myself. Once you are comfortable identifying intervals between two notes, start working on triads. One iphone app I’ve been working with is by Chordelia, called Triad Tutor.
  4. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    It all boils down to recognizing the chord progressions.

    How do we do that? It sure helps if you grew up with a rhythm guitar and sat on your bed strumming chord progressions over and over and over. First you have to be able to identify what is being played. Once you can identify it you then store that sound away. Takes a lot of listening.

    Or put another way you learn the sound of a I-IV-V-I by hearing it being played. If a ii or vi comes into the picture you've heard those chord enough to where you can identify that sound.

    There are software programs that help with this. One I used in the past would let me "build" a chord progression and then the software plays the progression, i.e. I built a backing track and then played from it.

    Electronic keyboards go for around $100 - $200. Mine has songs that you can call up and as it plays the tune the chords in the tune show up in a window. Copy the progression and play the song again,listening for the chord coming up. Might try that.

    Got to do some listening -- and know what is being played, so our ears can recognize that sound. That along with some assuming what will be used normally gets close enough for jamming. Jamming is like the game of horse shoes, closest wins.
  5. tonik101


    Mar 20, 2014
    I've been using Auralia ear training software for years - intervals, chords, chord progressions etc. They've started releasing single topic apps too - http://www.risingsoftware.com/mobile/
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Just have to put the time in.
  7. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011

    Marc Sabatella has various stories about similar situations.
    His book or this pdf of his book goes down that road and includes the more advanced jazzercise of chord substitutions.
    It's a good book. I have a great many books on music and I recommend this one probably more often than any other.
    the anecdote that introduces the book talks about a time when he got lost in a session one of the other players tells him, "just listen. man." This book is about how he trained himself to listen.
  8. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I just found this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m48kljEZ9k it's an hour video on how to lock with the bass drum AND how to recognize when the chords change.

    If you want to know how to do this click on the address.

    Have fun.
  9. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    when I listen to a song-any song, I am actively listening and always figuring out songs in my head. every song heard is an opportunity to practice and develop your chops without an instrument handy. most people passively listen to music and this doesn't help with learning chord quality, progressions or key sigs for that matter.
    I would say 75% of my studying these days is simply listening.
  10. Active listening is the best description!

    As you listen more, and look at common chord progressions, you'll get used to the sounds, and learn what to expect. I did quite a bit of analyzing songs at school, learning what a II V sounds like, and how they can be substituted, for example.

    Your interval training will really help to identify the root of a chord. Learning the different chord colours is similar.

    It's amazing how quickly you can pick this stuff up if you put in some time on it.

    Oh, and if you can set up to watch the pianist's left hand...