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Ear Training

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by gruffpuppy, Sep 4, 2001.

  1. Have any of you had ear training courses?

    My teacher wants me to spend more time training my ear. I have a Jamey Aebersold book that is nice and I have been recording keyboard tracks to play along with, but I wanted to know if any of you DB guys could recommend any books or paths to walk down.
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Three words: transcription, transcription, transcription. The ideal situation is one in which you have a clear recording to transcribe from, and also a reference to check yourself against. The Aebersold stuff is great for this, because you can turn off everything but the bass, and if you use a cut that has a book of transcribed bass lines available for it, you can check yourself against the professionally done versions.

    If you're serious about this, I'll make a deal with you: you pick a tune off of Vols. 6, 35 (Ron Carter), 70 (Tyrone Wheeler), 1 or 3 (Rufus Reid) or 41 (John Goldsby), and attempt a transcription of the bassline. When you're done, let me know, and I'll snail mail you a copy of the transcription to check yourself against. Deal? (If you choose one from the Goldsby of Reid books, check with me first - those transcription books are incomplete).

    This would be a GREAT way to train your ear, and would only cost you as much as whatever book/CD you were using (under $20, anyway). Let me know.

  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    When I studied theory with composer Ron Nelson, he regularly devoted time to ear training. Intense, going so far as transcribing 4 voices, supplying key, time signature, bar lines and chord analysis. He said that long after we had forgotten all the names and rules, we'd remember the ear training. It was the most valuable training I've ever had.
  4. Thanks for the info. I am surprised I didn't think of transcribing anything. Thanks for the chance for the correspondence course CF.

    It sounds like the AEBERSOLD PLAY-A-LONG books are something I should pickup. I have been singing intervals and then trying to play them on my bass.
    Which has been helping but it sounds like the transcribing will also help in other ways.

    Sounds like a good idea to listen and see if I am improving.
  5. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    Ya, transcription is invaluable. I spent every spare moment for 3 months last year transcribing vocal lines. My ear was much better at the end of that exercise, not surprisingly.

    But you also need to maintain it. I've done very little transcription since then and I know that my ear has suffered for it.

  6. Perhaps the best ear training is constant, attentive listening. Learn to sing all the modes/scales and arpeggios from memory. The more you do this, the more you will be able to recognize things you hear while you're listening.

    Pick a tune. Memorize the melody, if you can. Sing it back. See if you can transcribe the melody and/or chord changes without your instrument, just by singing the intervals. While this may seem time consuming and tedious, I found it to be an invaluable excercise.
  7. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    A guy once told me of sitting next to Thad Jones on a coast-to-coast flight, during which Thad was writing a big band arrangement, all from his head.
  8. That is amazing, writing from your head, sure I could do it if it was straight 16th notes pedaling an A. :rolleyes:

    What I have been doing just to give an update.
    First I picked up 2 of the books CF suggested and have been working on transcribing. I picked up 35 and 70. Also my teacher has me bowing an open D or A and then singing an interval, then playing the interval to see if I have it. This seems to work well because the smile produced by getting it right seems to implant the note.

    Thanks for the help.
  9. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    In the same vein as the Jones story - a friend studies band arranging with Jim McNeely and Manny Alban (Alban died recently). So if Jack writes 8 choruses, and has a problem with a bar or two, McNeely will sit there and scan the score, mentally transposing the Bb and Eb parts, and he'll stop right at the problem bar and start talking about it. The guy is truly scary.

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