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~ The ability of being able to hear various intervals and melodies in your musical mind without having an instrument in your hands. Start with simple things like scales, arpeggios, and patterns. Hear them in your mind and ear.

Try to hear a standard tune. Hear the drums, the bass, and piano. Imagine the sound, think of how yuor favorite players sound- shape your imagery towards that.Another nice form of ear training involves reading music without an instrument. Take a standard,or etude, and try to hear the sound and shape of the music in your head. The first thing you might observe is the form (AABA, AAB, etc etc). Next, see what the melody does. Does a particular phrase repeat in a sequential fashion? How does one 4 or 8 bar phrase lead to the next, and what are the common threads? Once you get the hang of what these qualities are, you will have a broader understanding to hear what is going on.Your music will sound healthier, and you will be better able to bring your music to the public. This is a form of practicing without your instrument as well. You'll enjoy it and grow musically as well. Many times at clinics and workshops I really focus on this aspect of our education.

ALSO- As an educator, it is easy finding the spirit of imagination in my teaching. On the bandstand, different values get focused on. Via commercial-industrial strength rock & roll playing or playing jazz. I'm always looking to find ways to isolate and capture this spirit via constant checking and re-checking of techniques-thought patterns , as it leads it's way closer.This will help you to develop natural confidence, by knowing information that you need to know.

Remember your vision and keep your forward motion.

Do your best, eat well, exercise and walk as much as you can, and do what is meaningful in your daily routine. This is the best you can do.

HTH :)
 

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Thanks for the thread Tim, and I hope you can help me with a slightly different problem. Actually , I can hear musical phrases , etc , without the instrument quite well.
My issue is with tunes is different keys. Say we're playing a melody or even a set of songs that I know well in the key of D minor without sheet music. Now we're going into the next song ( or even switching same song) in a different key of say, Eb minor . In my head , I don't hear the new key ( scale) until I actually play the first few notes of the tune in that key. And the first few notes I know, only because I remember where it's supposed to begin. I hope I'm making myself clear. I see musicians effortlessly glide into tunes in different keys one after another without sheet music. In a band , this skill is absolutely necessary in case the bandleader during a medley asks me to lead into a different tune ( which I know) in another key. My question is how to hear a key in my head without yet playing it?
 

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I have been spending more time on intervals lately. I had a theory teacher a long time ago that had us pick out a song we knew well where the first two notes were the interval in question. That has always helped me be able to hear intervals in my head.
 

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Great post, Tim! I do stuff like this in my head when I wake up in the night and sometimes when just taking walk. I think it's very effective.

Actually , I can hear musical phrases , etc , without the instrument quite well.

My issue is with tunes is different keys. Say we're playing a melody or even a set of songs that I know well in the key of D minor without sheet music. Now we're going into the next song ( or even switching same song) in a different key of say, Eb minor . In my head , I don't hear the new key ( scale) until I actually play the first few notes of the tune in that key. And the first few notes I know, only because I remember where it's supposed to begin.

My question is how to hear a key in my head without yet playing it?
Dmell, Tim might have some ideas for you, but I think you've answered your own question with the statement: "...only because I remember where it's supposed to begin."

I can hear a tune in my head without reference to key. It could fit any key because the melody and intervals are all relative. So the trick, at least for me, is not so much to hear any tune in a given key, but to hear it in a relative sense. So if I can remember where the tune starts (for example, "Happy Birthday" starts on the '5'), I can start it and hear where it goes from there. Of course I will know what key it is in also, but I don't think you have to immediately hear the exact tonality (that would be like perfect pitch, which I don't have). You just need to hear the shape of the melody very clearly. Then when you hit that first note (you remember where the tune starts), you have your point of reference and can go from there.

Hope that makes some sense.
 

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JL....
Let me start by saying that theory isn't my strength. My musical background consists of 80% ear.
Please explain a little what you mean by "relative sense" and Happy Birthday starting on the "5".
In a sense you calmed me because I know most musicians don't have perfect pitch so there must be something else they're doing .... probably the relative sense you're talking about.. But the issue for me is gliding seamlessly into the next tune of the medley which is in another key and although I know the tune , I can't always remember the first few notes because my ear is listening and playing another tune altogether and now I gotta jump into the fire like right away. Even though when not playing , I could clearly hear the melody and intervals. Quite frustrating.
When I played accordion I didn't have this problem because if I was leading I would prepare the band with the next melody and I played an intro chord. If someone was leading he would just call out the next key.. FMajor. A minor , etc. All of this was without sheet music , just by ear. It's a little more complicated on the sax for me because it's a melody instrument..
 

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Dmell, Tim might have some ideas for you, but I think you've answered your own question with the statement: "...only because I remember where it's supposed to begin."
I can hear a tune in my head without reference to key. It could fit any key because the melody and intervals are all relative. So the trick, at least for me, is not so much to hear any tune in a given key, but to hear it in a relative sense. So if I can remember where the tune starts (for example, "Happy Birthday" starts on the '5'), I can start it and hear where it goes from there. Of course I will know what key it is in also, but I don't think you have to immediately hear the exact tonality (that would be like perfect pitch, which I don't have). You just need to hear the shape of the melody very clearly. Then when you hit that first note (you remember where the tune starts), you have your point of reference and can go from there.
Hope that makes some sense.
[/QUOTE]

That makes perfect sense to me. Of course, having a good Piano player who can modulate into the new key and pull you along with him is really great too, and makes life a lot easier.
 

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....I can hear a tune in my head without reference to key. It could fit any key because the melody and intervals are all relative. So the trick, at least for me, is not so much to hear any tune in a given key, but to hear it in a relative sense. So if I can remember where the tune starts (for example, "Happy Birthday" starts on the '5'), I can start it and hear where it goes from there. Of course I will know what key it is in also, but I don't think you have to immediately hear the exact tonality (that would be like perfect pitch, which I don't have). You just need to hear the shape of the melody very clearly. Then when you hit that first note (you remember where the tune starts), you have your point of reference and can go from there.

Hope that makes some sense.
Hi JL, I'd like to ask if you use this method to memorize jazz tunes with more sharps/flats and transposes? e.g. Naima (Belgium 1965 version)... I can work out the first phrase being 6-'1-'2-'3'3----'2-'5--6, but what to do with the next phrase?

I ask because I myself use so-fa names to memorize tunes and have trouble applying such method on tunes like these. Thanks!
 

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Please explain a little what you mean by "relative sense" and Happy Birthday starting on the "5".

In a sense you calmed me because I know most musicians don't have perfect pitch so there must be something else they're doing .... probably the relative sense you're talking about.. But the issue for me is gliding seamlessly into the next tune of the medley which is in another key and although I know the tune .....
By 'relative sense,' I mean a maj3rd interval or min6th, tritone (flat5th) etc, all sound the same regardless of key. And a given melody sounds the same relative to the tonic in any key. So 'Happy Birthday' sounds the same whether you play it in C or G or any other key. Even though the notes are different, they are arranged in the same relative order. So once you either establish the tonic (by playing the first part of the melody) your ear will hear the tune in that key.

By 'start's on the 5', I mean Happy Birthday starts on the 5th degree of the key. If you are playing it in C, it will start on G and go from there: G G A G C B (5 5 6 5 1 7). By knowing the tune starts on the 5, you know where to start no matter what key you're in and your ear should guide you from there. If you think in numbers (scale degrees) you can transpose the melody to any key.

I think the issue of gliding into the next tune of the medley is a different problem. That has more to do with just knowing the tunes inside/out so you don't really have to think about it. Do you use a set list? That could help so you take a glance at it just before getting the next tune, and you can have the key indicated on the set list. Is this a band you play with on a regular basis? If not, you'll definitely want a set list if you're doing medleys. And, equally important, you'll want to know those tunes very well in whatever key you'll be playing them in.

Tim's visualization idea would help too. Before the gig, go over the tunes & keys in your head: i.e.: Song for my Father in Fm, followed by Night Train in Ab, Honky Tonk in F, Josephine in G, Blue Light Boogie in C, etc.
 

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THANKS a lot JL...
I really learned something and am actually printing out your reply.
You're right about the set lists. I've played with them and without them so I know what you mean.
 

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Hi JL, I'd like to ask if you use this method to memorize jazz tunes with more sharps/flats and transposes? e.g. Naima (Belgium 1965 version)... I can work out the first phrase being 6-'1-'2-'3'3----'2-'5--6, but what to do with the next phrase?
I don't really use it to memorize tunes. I memorize them by playing them over & over. The numbers are mostly useful for transposing to other keys. You might take note (no pun intended) of what scale degree number the melody or phrase starts on when learning the tune, and also if you're trying to sing it as ear training (but I'm not so sure I do that either).

But yes, absolutely you want to indicate the sharps and flats. In C, I would always designate Eb as 'b3' even if I'm in C min. The numbers are all related to the tonic (which will be '1'). So in the key of F# the '1' would be F#, the 'b3' would be A and the '3' would be A#, the '5' is C#, b5 is C, etc.

Let me check out that Naima video and get back to you on that one.
 

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Thanks JL. I thought you're using a similar method I use in memorizing tunes, i.e. to transcribe to so-fa names, or 1-7 notations. I think I'm quite good at identifying where the 1s (or [do]s) are in a tune, at least for regular pop songs and many simpler jazz music. But when I picked up sax and started listening to Trane's and Bird's solos, I can't convert fast enough, and often these conversions will involve a lot of #/b, which is a pain to remember. Maybe I need another method of understanding these transposes and scales.
 

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... I can work out the first phrase being 6-'1-'2-'3'3----'2-'5--6, but what to do with the next phrase?
Ok I gave it a listen. He embellishes the basic melody a bit. I think you got it right so far. The next phrase sounds like: 4-5---1---b7---5-b7-5. (I didn't play along, so I'm not absolutely sure about that '4-5' pickup)

Just to be clear (in case someone is wondering what we're on about), the tonic is Ab maj. So the numbering system would be:

1=Ab, 2=Bb, 3=C, 4=Db, 5=Eb, 6=F, 7=G

Note, therefore, the 'b7' in that phrase is a 'Gb'.

Does that all compute? It's looks a lot more complicated writing it out than it really is. Getting back to Tim's post, the idea in this context would be to visualize and hear the melody in your head (you could sing the notes and/or the scale degrees if you want).
 

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Thanks JL. I thought you're using a similar method I use in memorizing tunes, i.e. to transcribe to so-fa names, or 1-7 notations. I think I'm quite good at identifying where the 1s (or [do]s) are in a tune, at least for regular pop songs and many simpler jazz music. But when I picked up sax and started listening to Trane's and Bird's solos, I can't convert fast enough, and often these conversions will involve a lot of #/b, which is a pain to remember. Maybe I need another method of understanding these transposes and scales.
I see what you're saying. I can't pick up all those notes without playing along, and even then it takes a lot of trial and error to find all the notes. And no way I can do it on a fast Bird improvisation. But learning a head or a phrase or melodic fragment isn't so bad. I just listen several times, get it in my head/ear, then play along until I find all the notes. Then play it by myself over and over, maybe going back to the recording to check. And then I also do what Tim suggests, singing it in my mind (or even out loud). Etc.

I'm pretty aware of the scale degrees for any key, so if the tune is in D, for ex, I'll start to hear certain intervals or tones like, say, the b5 (Ab), maj7 (C#), or whatever. But I don't really visualize all the numbers.

I never really learned the do re me style, but that's the same idea. Lots of approaches probably work, but the goal of course is to hear it and get it under your fingers.

This really does all go back to what Tim said in the OP. Hearing those intervals, chord arpeggios (1 3 5 7), melodies, etc, and transfering whatever you hear to the instrument is what it's all about. Some day I'll be able to do it better than I do now, lol! :)
 

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Ok I gave it a listen. He embellishes the basic melody a bit. I think you got it right so far. The next phrase sounds like: 4-5---1---b7---5-b7-5. (I didn't play along, so I'm not absolutely sure about that '4-5' pickup) ... Does that all compute? It's looks a lot more complicated writing it out than it really is. ....
Thanks JL! My take on it is very similar 5-6-4-'1---b7---5-b7-5. Actually what pops up in my head was 2-3-1-6---5---3-5-3; I unconsciously changed the reference note to make the phrase easier to remember, taking out all #/b. Tricky bit is then I have to work out how this "1" relate to my previous "1" in "6-'1-'2-'3'3----'2-'5--6". In this case the "1" is tenor Bb in the first phrase and changed to Eb in the second phrase. Yes, really lot more complicated writing it out than it really is. A lotta hard work to do for me! :D

....I'm pretty aware of the scale degrees for any key, so if the tune is in D, for ex, I'll start to hear certain intervals or tones like, say, the b5 (Ab), maj7 (C#), or whatever.....
This is very useful for me, thanks. I often try to avoid b5, b7 or so. By the above example, I could do better if I recognized the 4-'1--b7 interval in first take instead of 1-6---5.

...Getting back to Tim's post, the idea in this context would be to visualize and hear the melody in your head (you could sing the notes and/or the scale degrees if you want).
....Hearing those intervals, chord arpeggios (1 3 5 7), melodies, etc, and transfering whatever you hear to the instrument is what it's all about. Some day I'll be able to do it better than I do now, lol! :)
Running the music in my head surely helps. I can't remember all details, but running through the parts helps visualizing what the music is about, how the phrases are arranged, and how emotions are brought through. I also find that if you can remember the bass patterns and chords, usually it gives an insight of the structure of the music. Then by my so-fa name method I can transfer the music to my sax, piano or so.
 

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I unconsciously changed the reference note to make the phrase easier to remember, taking out all #/b..
If I'm following you here, I think you might get into some trouble doing this. For a start it's pretty confusing to change the tonic center (unless there is a 'real' shift in the tonic center, or a modulation), and maybe more importantly, those #/b notes can be really important and I like to understand them in context of the harmony. In other words, a 'b5' has a certain sound and if I'm hearing that or playing it, I want to know that's what it is. The #5 or b6 has a sound, a b7 on a dominant chord or minor chord, etc. Same with any chromatic tone (I mean a tone outside the diatonic harmony or an altered chord tone). And a lot of times, when you raise or lower a diatonic note, you'll be taking the #/b away. For example, the b5 on an F# chord is C (by lowering the C# a half tone).

You could argue that the end result is all that matters and do whatever works for you. But sometimes when something works in the 'short run', it messes you up down the road. Better have a handle on all the notes in a given key, regardless of whether they have sharps or flats. Just my 2 cents. Assuming I understood what you were saying.
 

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I like to think my friends are jealous because sometimes the voices only speak to me... I often have a little mind orchestration going on! They seem to focus on my little mind...
 

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I like to think my friends are jealous because sometimes the voices only speak to me... I often have a little mind orchestration going on! They seem to focus on my little mind...
Write what your hearing down. Notate and play......
 
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