Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been learning sax for almost a year now. I have my 1-3-5s, major and minor scales, and am working on pentatonics and blues scales. I can play the full range of standard notes as well as a few altissimo notes. (Just to give you some idea what level I'm at).

It just occurred to me that I play scales very quickly, but it's very kinesthetic. That is, I don't have the concept of WHY I'm playing the notes I play. I've just memorized sequences/patterns.

I don't have any theory background besides a basic theory class in college, about 13 years ago.

I'm currently using some software to learn to identify intervals by ear, but I really want to understand more, and I'm having trouble with it conceptually. So...

Any tips for dummy?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
Try playing a simple tune like "SonnyMoon for Two" in another key. Then three, four...12. Then do another tune you know. Then three, four ...12. Eventually you'll start to understand the mathematical relationship of it all.

All the notes are just numbers on a number line. Once you know which note letter to match with the number 1, the rest of them just line right up.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
8,275 Posts
Chords. I guess you know what a chord is? You have to learn the basic chords and practice them. In this way you will train yourself to 'hear' different intervals. Using interval theory, you can hear or imagine a melody and identify the scale positions of the notes - like, 'Yankee Doodle' is 1,1,2,3,1,3,2,etc. You may not know what key it's in if you don't have perfect pitch, but with elementary music composition skills you could still write down this lead line in 'C' for instance. A piano or some other keyboard is very useful to hear the whole chord played at once so you can get used to recognizing the harmonies of the different types of chords. Right off the bat you should be able to instantly recognize major, minor, augmented and diminished chords, plus understand why they are called that, and name the notes in the principle triad of any such chord in any key. This stuff is all well-known and rather 'old hat', but you must have it to progress in music.
One thing that I started doing many years ago is thinking in concert pitch. Although I obviously know the names of the notes on a sax, to me it's easier to call them all their concert pitch because I'm essentially an ear player. So on the baritone, concert C is an A, and on tenor concert C is a D. Thinking in concert simplifies everything - you're talking the same language as the rhythm section.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,687 Posts
Sing the intervals. One thing about an interval, it sounds the same in every key. So, for ex, once you know what a maj3rd sounds like, you can hear it regardless of key and you can transpose it to all keys. Same with min3rd, perfect 5th, flat 5th, etc...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks. Those are all very helpful tips. I had never thought to try singing intervals. I'll have to wait until the girlfriend isn't around...

I don't know if I'm at the level where I can start thinking in concert pitch. I play both alto and tenor, and I think it would get confusing pretty fast.

I guess I'll start with simple tunes I know and just start transposing them to different keys. That seems helpful regardless of if it helps me learn interval theory better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
928 Posts
The following are examples in a diatonic context:
C-C is perfect unison
C-Dbb is a diminished 2nd
C-C# is augmented unison
C-Db is a minor second
C-D is a major 2nd
C-Ebb is a diminished 3rd
C-D# is a augmented 2nd
C-Eb is a minor 3rd
C-E is a Major 3rd
C-E# is augmented
C-Fb is a diminished 4th
C-F is a perfect 4th
C-F# is augmented 4th
C-Gb is a diminished 5th
etc.
Some of the above are enharmonic and appropriate use would be dependent on the prevailing major or minor key center.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,687 Posts
I had never thought to try singing intervals.

I don't know if I'm at the level where I can start thinking in concert pitch. .
You don't need to think in concert pitch. What is most useful is relative pitch. You 'think' or play relative to a tonic center. That is what intervals are all about.

And you don't need a good singing voice to sing scales, chords, intervals. You're trying to develop your ear. I'd suggest starting by singing a major scale, since you probably have that well established in your mind (if not, play a major scale over and over on the piano or your horn until you do). When you sing the scale, it doesn't matter what key you're singing it in; start with a random note as the tonic that is comfortable for your vocal range and sing the scale from there. Once you can do that, start singing triads, up to the tonic and back down (i.e. 1 3 5 1 5 3 1). Then pick out the major 3rd (1 3) and sing that a few times, then on to a minor 3rd (1 b3), a 5th, a 4th, and other intervals.

You can play these intervals first on the piano or your horn if necessary. Also try to find tunes you know really well with a given interval. For example, "Here Comes the Bride" starts with a 4th.

I'm telling you, singing chords, scales, intervals will be very helpful and is the best way to train your ear.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks again. I'll definitely start working on that.

I think I'm going to have a question about learning chord progressions, but I'll make another post for that.

It's a whole new world for me!
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top