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Ear Training: developing high sensitivity to pitch



 
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Krumcake
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 5:16 pm    Post subject: Ear Training: developing high sensitivity to pitch Reply with quote

TLDR - What are some ways to improve one's sensitivity to pitch?

Hey all! These days, I am trying to improve my sensitivity to relatively small variations in pitch/intonation. While recording myself, I often listen to the playback with a tuner and find many instances when I play depressingly out of tune - something that I did not particularly notice or adjust to while playing it.

I have been practicing quite a lot with tuning drones and a tuner in an effort to be more aware when my intonation is locked in or goes awry. I know that I have things to work on regarding technique and efficiency of playing (i.e. reducing tension, focusing on playing in the center of each note).

That aside, what I am primarily looking for with this post are suggestions, methods, anecdotes on developing one’s sensitivity to pitch. We probably all can think of some people who can pinpoint intonation issues with bewildering speed and accuracy. Maybe you are one of those people. How does one get (closer) to that level of listening ability?

FWIW, my approach so far has consisted mainly of using the drones and tuner in the Tonal Energy app. I play a variety of long tones and exercises with drones, usually with the tuner set in Just Intonation. It’s good, but I want more - especially things to do away from the horn.
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Rod Haney
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2019 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no idea if this could work for anyone but me but this is what I did and it improved my pitch identification immensely.

You can sit at a keyboard (better if someone else does it) and randomly hit notes on the keyboard then match that note on your trumpet. This points out very quickly if you have a ‘hearing the note pitch issue’ and will immediately show trends with your hearing - too low or too high. About 3 months of this I began to very clearly recognize the pitch and increasingly match it. I’ve always had a good sense of pitch until it gets around hi c but my aging ears have lost some of their hi note recognition, this helps immediately as you get immediate feedback. Another thing I noticed was that I started to associate the pitch with the note name, this gives you an opportunity to start naming chords and start to get a feel for the chord changes. I am fairly new to pursuing improv. But this seems to be a big key.

I would also throw my tuner away and concentrate on pitch matching an existing tone, this is after all what we need to do, match the music vs. a box in a corner.

This is really helping me with pitch and music structure and can be done alone by starting in a range you are comfortable.

Hope it works for you.
Rod
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2019 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sing the same drone studies that you do on trumpet.

Another fun one is to record yourself in something that has auto tune. Make a duplicate track and and compare your unautotuned track against your autotuned track. It makes you painfully aware of your tendencies against equal temperament.

Always play with a resonant sound.
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dstdenis
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I play a drone using the Tonal Energy Tuner app on my phone through a bluetooth speaker. I usually set the drone to play the fifth of the key signature, for example, if the piece is in F, I set the drone to play a C.

When playing with a drone, your subconscious mind can't help but notice when intonation doesn't line up. Over time, you'll start making small adjustments without even thinking about it. Your pitch awareness will improve, and it will stay with you even when you aren't using the drone. Then you just need to come back to it every now and then for maintenance.

Out of tune playing won't be banished forever--it's still possible to play out of tune for lots of other reasons, like getting tired or attempting a really difficult passage. But practicing with a drone will help you become more aware of intonation and generally more in tune.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been helped a lot by interval studies. You can start with Arban hearing in the same (relatively) intervals like thirds or fourths. Then playing melodic studies like Cancone, paying particular attention to varying intervals. Listen!
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rod Haney wrote:
You can sit at a keyboard (better if someone else does it) and randomly hit notes on the keyboard then match that note on your trumpet. This points out very quickly if you have a ‘hearing the note pitch issue’ and will immediately show trends with your hearing - too low or too high. About 3 months of this I began to very clearly recognize the pitch and increasingly match it.


This is one of the best and most effective ways to learn how to produce specific pitches by ear. This skill is developed by trial and error. The "random note piano method" is very effective if you stick with it. Players develop at varying rates but the one constant is that the more time you spend doing this the better you will be at it. There are really no shortcuts.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is also important to note that using a tuner to check your pitch, that you n tune will lead you astray very, very quickly.

tuners will not be accurate when move from just intervals to tonality and the tempering needed to be in tune. If your major 3rd is good on the tuner, you are terribly out of tune!

Cheers

Andy
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chuck in ny
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there is a wide variance with people in their physical and mental composition and it shows up glaringly between people with perfect pitch and the rest of us.
still and all plodders can do quite well with dedicated application which is my basic approach to the instrument. thanks for the suggestions guys.
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

chuck in ny wrote:
there is a wide variance with people in their physical and mental composition and it shows up glaringly between people with perfect pitch and the rest of us.
still and all plodders can do quite well with dedicated application which is my basic approach to the instrument. thanks for the suggestions guys.


I don't have perfect pitch but I've somehow trained myself to be able to frequently and quickly identify the names of pitches just by their sound. I'm not always correct but I'm correct often enough that I know this does not involve random guessing. My theory here is that each pitch has a sound distinct from all other pitches and can be perceived like different words are perceived.

The primary process I've used to train myself has been to play along with records. I've been doing that for 51 years and I still practice that way.

As a by-product of playing along with records I'm thinking of the notes as "pitches" instead of "notes." This has the effect of mentally getting rid of key signatures when I'm playing. I'm primarily a jazz improvisation player so mentally eliminating key signatures makes this a lot easier. Of course, the key signatures are still there. It's just that I don't think about them and, instead, play through them naturally based on recognition of pitches and relative pitches. This is a hard to explain in a written post. It seems like "magic" in describing it but it really isn't "magic." It's no more "magic" than speaking. It really needs to be demonstrated to fully illustrate it.

It takes time to become confident. It is a slow process to be able to consistently play melodies accurately without looking at music or memorizing the notes. Improvisation takes even longer because the vocabulary of improvisation is different from the vocabulary of the melody. You're familiar with the melody so you essentially just imitate it. In contrast, you have to create something new with improvisation.

If you can play melodies and improvise naturally without thinking about it, the same way you naturally speak without thinking about it, it's a lot easier to play the melodies and improvise around them. For me, this has been strictly the result of ear training by the method I've described.

That method has been a very general method (playing along with records playing the melody and improvising). A better and quicker method is to just focus on the melodic line like you're the bass player, beginning with just one note per measure, then advancing to two notes, four notes, eight notes and sixteen notes per measure as you develop fluency.

It will still take a long time but the results are more solid more quickly. You eventually want to be able to play melodies and improvise around them just on your own without any accompaniment by the record or by a rhythm section. There's a recording of Clifford Brown doing this with the changes to Cherokee. He plays them over and over without any accompaniment. I think it's the only recording there is of Clifford just practicing.
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.jazzbooks.com/jazz/product/TT
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bman485
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I practice mouthpiece buzzing either at the keyboard, with a drone on, or with the tuner. Buzz up and down the scale and make sure you aren’t deviating far from the key. I will also stop on random intervals if doing it with a drone to make sure I am keeping each interval in tune as I go. If you are able to buzz your scales perfectly in tune and hear when it isn’t quite on the money, you’ll be well prepared to do it on the trumpet.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HERMOKIWI wrote:
Rod Haney wrote:
You can sit at a keyboard (better if someone else does it) and randomly hit notes on the keyboard then match that note on your trumpet. This points out very quickly if you have a ‘hearing the note pitch issue’ and will immediately show trends with your hearing - too low or too high. About 3 months of this I began to very clearly recognize the pitch and increasingly match it.


This is one of the best and most effective ways to learn how to produce specific pitches by ear. This skill is developed by trial and error. The "random note piano method" is very effective if you stick with it. Players develop at varying rates but the one constant is that the more time you spend doing this the better you will be at it. There are really no shortcuts.


+1, I do this with lesson students.

Brad
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kevin_soda
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Ear Training: developing high sensitivity to pitch Reply with quote

Krumcake wrote:
TLDR - What are some ways to improve one's sensitivity to pitch?

Hey all! These days, I am trying to improve my sensitivity to relatively small variations in pitch/intonation. While recording myself, I often listen to the playback with a tuner and find many instances when I play depressingly out of tune - something that I did not particularly notice or adjust to while playing it.

I have been practicing quite a lot with tuning drones and a tuner in an effort to be more aware when my intonation is locked in or goes awry. I know that I have things to work on regarding technique and efficiency of playing (i.e. reducing tension, focusing on playing in the center of each note).

That aside, what I am primarily looking for with this post are suggestions, methods, anecdotes on developing one’s sensitivity to pitch. We probably all can think of some people who can pinpoint intonation issues with bewildering speed and accuracy. Maybe you are one of those people. How does one get (closer) to that level of listening ability?

FWIW, my approach so far has consisted mainly of using the drones and tuner in the Tonal Energy app. I play a variety of long tones and exercises with drones, usually with the tuner set in Just Intonation. It’s good, but I want more - especially things to do away from the horn.


Don't overthink this. Listen. Sing. Hear. Then play. Trial and error. Get's better with focus and determination.
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cheiden
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My first tip is to adopt a method that gets you playing the resonant centers of the horn, like the Stamp method, preferably with an experience Stamp student. I think playing consistently to the center of the horn is required. From there it's not hard to adjust to suit other players and ensembles. I think too much time with a drone or a tuner can actually get in the way. First play in tune to the horn, then adjust from there. Any other way then you're always fighting the horn.

Next would be to work with a teacher who has impeccable intonation and practice matching pitch when playing in unison. My teacher always played along during my hour-long lessons and it makes a world of difference. When we would play duets I got to refine my ear for intervals.
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Blackquill
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do agree with cheiden. First be sure you are playing with optimal sound before trying to adjust the pitch, or else tone will be sacrificed in favor of pitch.

My college band director suggested that people don't practice intonation enough. Since the trumpet is usually consistent with its intonation, if you can play any note in tune by itself, it will solve most of your intonation issues. Thus, check your intonation on every single note on the horn. Once you find the problem notes, practice playing those notes in tune.
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CJceltics33
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://medium.com/@maxdeutsch/how-i-developed-perfect-pitch-in-30-days-at-24-years-old-7e2e78b8c26b

I thought this was interesting
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kevin_soda
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Billy B wrote:
http://www.jazzbooks.com/jazz/product/TT


This book looks excellent! I'll be adding it to my library soon!

Thanks!
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CJceltics33 wrote:
https://medium.com/@maxdeutsch/how-i-developed-perfect-pitch-in-30-days-at-24-years-old-7e2e78b8c26b

I thought this was interesting


I think it's interesting, too. I've posted here many times that the process of learning to identify and play pitches and relative pitches by ear is the same process we use to learn to speak language. However, for some people this concept is too abstract because they see language and music as two completely different things.

It will help to conceptualize both language and music simply as two types of sounds. Just as the sound of any one individual word is different from the sound of all the other words (which enables us to distinguish that word from all the other words) the sound of each pitch is different from the sound of all the other pitches (which gives you a way to distinguish that pitch from all the other pitches). You just have to train yourself to hear each pitch as a unique individual sound different from all the other pitches.

It takes time. In my experience 30 days is far too optimistic for most people but I suppose anything is possible. The author seems to think of the process in a way similar to what I've described.

This is a skill that helps so many aspects of playing trumpet. Better tone center. Better intonation. Fewer missed/cracked notes. Nothing but advantages.

Thank you for sharing this resource.
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