Practice your Ear - Guitar Lesson 5
Written by Philip du Toit   
Thursday, 26 November 2009 12:12


The next step is to teach you to recognize chords and scales by ear.  This will help you greatly to work out chords and the right notes for any tune that you play on the guitar.  You must train your ear to what sounds right and what not.


Let’s just recap on scales.




A Major scale has a certain sound to it.  You should be able to hear and sing a correct major scale.  Try playing any note on the guitar and build a scale onto it (without looking at the theory – Lesson 2).  Try working out the right notes by singing and playing while listening to what sounds right.  You should be able to work out any major scale by ear anywhere on the guitar.  Also try to memorize the scales in pictures and finger positions.  Revert back to lesson 2 if necessary.


There are other scale types (minor scales [melodic and harmonic], pentatonic, etc.), but for our purposes, the Western diatonic major scale (the normal major scale), is the only one necessary to know.  We later build on the same scale theory if we play in all major and even minor keys.  For minor keys, the related major scale is used as reference (e.g. if you play in the key of A Minor, the major key of C major is used as reference).



The next step is to train your ear to identify chords.



Play the following sequence:   | C  -  D7  -  | G


Listen especially to the D7.  Can you hear that the D7 anticipates the G?  Can you hear that the song cannot stop on a D7?  It has to end with a G.  This is a characteristic of all 7th chords.  You can train your ear to identify a 7’th chord.  Every chord type has a unique sound and character.



Now play: | C  -  D9  -  | G


Can you hear that the D9 is similar to the D7?  But it is richer and has more “color.”



Now play | C  -  D  -  |  Em


Listen especially to the Em.  The minor is different from a major.  Hear the difference between:

 | C  -  D  -  |  Em


| C  -  D  -  |  E



Apart from the fact that chord types have specific sounds, chords in ‘n song has a certain context.  In other words, they fit into a certain sequence.  This has to do with the harmonic lines or progressions in a piece of music.  There is often more than one possible harmonization for a music piece.  You can train your ear to what chord fits where and what chord to expect where.  This takes time and practice. (more of this in lesson 9).


The best musicians on any instrument are those with a well developed musical ear.  Some people have a more natural “musical ear.”  The development of your “musical ear” is often related to your environment.  But it can be trained.  It is not in the scope of this course, but you can even train your ear and voice to have better pitch.



  Advance to:


  Lesson 6 - Notes and Fingering



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