Ear Training question

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by lhallam, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    I am hoping one or two of you will try something for me.

    Be sure that your guitar is in good standard tuning (ie A = 440).

    With a pristine clean sound play an A on the G string and let it ring until it fades. Listen carefully but effortlessly in a relaxed manner. Now move up a 1/2 step and play a Bb on the same string and let it ring until it fades.

    You may have to do this a number of times.

    Try it on the D string 7th and 8th frets.

    Try it on the B string 10 & 11th frets.

    I swear as the Bb fades out it puts a sour taste in mouth. It sort of makes me cringe whereas the A sounds bright and singing.

    What do you experience?
     
  2. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    Well, I don't find a Bb at the 5th or 6th frets on the D string with my guitars! :)

    I just checked it out (Tele stright into a Pro Jr.) & don't hear it. It's possible that what you're hearing is a byproduct of your gear. If you're playing typical Fender-type single coils, sometimes there are weird ghost notes if the pups are too close to the strings, in which case you could try lowering them a bit. However, my experience has been that this is most prevalent in the bass & lower registers.

    It's also possible that you're encountering "cone cry" (an effect of voice coil rub) in your
    speaker(s). This phenomonen can create some undesirable sympathetic overtones, & yes, it does sometimes prey on certain notes. If this were the case, you might alleviate the problem by lightly doping your speaker(s).

    I could be way off base here, just tossing out ideas. It's tough to say without actually hearing what you're hearing...
     
  3. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Whoops, I really do know the notes. I'll edit thanks. It's very subtle and not amp related although I am using the same gtr.
     
  4. therealting

    therealting Member

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    It's not a byproduct of the sympathetic string vibrations giving the A more depth, is it?
     
  5. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Could be. This is more of a feeling that something that's going to jump right out at you. As I said, my mouth got a sort of sour feeling to it.

    I should've mentioned to be sure that the guitar is in good tune.

    This is an ear-training exercise. I'm going to try this on a piano and see if my experience is similar. I was just wondering if anyone else felt it the same way.
     
  6. therealting

    therealting Member

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    Try muting your other strings and the A will not sustain as long.

    I have perfect pitch so maybe I am not the best person for the experiment. If you are talking about the inherent tonality of the note, then yes they do sound quite different to me. A has a much more laid back sound than Bb, which is one of the more aggressive notes (to me).
     
  7. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Actually you are EXACTLY the person I want to hear from. Hmmm, aggressive can be another word for it. It definitely gives me a feeling of gritting my teeth, but I notice it more as it fades out.
    The A seems to be brighter to me than the Bb so yes, I can see it as less aggressive as it is more relaxing than the Bb.

    Thanks, this helps enormously.
     
  8. mikenz66

    mikenz66 Guest

    Hmm, aggressive...

    For once I'm reading this with a guitar in hand. Bb does indeed sound more aggressive to me than A.

    Dammit, now you've got me going up and down the high E string looking for aggression. The next most aggressive note appears to be D? Umm, then G? Does anyone else agree?

    Perhaps we could all rate the notes (maybe someone has already done this). It's starting to remind me of a colour-blindness test I did last year where I was handed a bunch of coloured sticks and had to arrange them in whatever order seemed right (I passed --- it turned out to be the colours round the edge of the chromaticity diagram).
     
  9. therealting

    therealting Member

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    Many people have rated the notes. I have heard of people associating them with colours (which makes a lot of sense).

    I find the different chords and keys sound completely different too, which is why I can hear a song and tell the key immediately. I have also heard cover versions done in different keys and just the key makes it sound completely different.

    Try this - take a familiar song. For the purposes of our experiment, try a simple song like "Yesterday". As you are aware, it is a rather sad song. Try it in all twelve keys, and see which key fits the best.
     
  10. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    I do not have perfect pitch but am working on it. See my thread in here on the David L Burge perfect pitch course. Yes, color is the example of what Burge uses to equate tones to. In other words, he says that each pitch has it's own colour.

    It seems you are hearing the colors, now the trick is to learn how to differentiate them.

    therealting confirmed what I thought I was hearing and that's was what I was looking for.
     
  11. BBHollowbody

    BBHollowbody Member

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    Sorry to hijack the thread, but I'm interested in hearing from people with perfect pitch. Can you hear the difference in absolute pitch and pitch from a instrument with tempered tuning?
    I'm serious about this, once it was pointed out to me, it affected the way I hear notes. Sometimes notes sound sour or out of tune to me even though the instrument playing them is in perfect tune.

    for example, play on C on an sustaining insturment like an organ. Now sing the fifth (G) until it locks, or pops as they say. Now keep that G going and play the G on the keyboard. Its different, a little flat.

    Now try that with with flat 7th. Play C and sing a Bb till it locks. Now play the Bb on the organ, its way off.

    Just a little experiment to try. It won't really affect your instrumental playing, but if you sing harmonies-don't sing with a piano-use a pitch pipe and build your intervals from the root.

    So if you have perfect pitch, does that G on the organ (if played by itself) sound weird? Do fifths on a piano sound a little dead? I'm not being a smartass, I really want to know, cause sometimes they do to me.
     
  12. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    No hi-jack at all, interested in anything anyone has to say on the subject of perfect pitch.

    It's wide open gents.

    What did you hear before it was pointed out to you?
     
  13. BBHollowbody

    BBHollowbody Member

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    I would hear things that sounded out of tune, but I couldn't explain why. I would practice four part harmonies with the band that I was in, we would match notes with the keyboard, but the chord would sound a little... off. They wouldn't "pop".
    Once I figured out how to adjust the intervals, things would get a little better.

    I think subconsciously (before and after this was pointed out) I adjust notes on guitar when I'm improvising. Like when your jamming in E, and you hit that high B. Sometimes it won't sound exactly right. It always sounds better (to my ear) when you bend up to that note. You let your ear guide you.

    Also, vibrato helps mask these inconsistencies in our tuning scale.

    Sorry if I'm rambling.
     
  14. Supertgtr

    Supertgtr Member

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    try this with a sine wave generator. I'll bet the colors and flavors will be hard to detect.
     
  15. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Definitely harder. I don't recall all the steps, but the first step is to be able to identify the tones on your native instrument. The highest developed ears can hear the tones on any instrument, even a sine generator and can sing any note from their head.
     
  16. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Not rambling to me, I'm highly interested. Since working on my relative pitch I can hear how just out of tune a guitar is as you move up the neck. The curse or benefit of this remains to be seen.
     
  17. therealting

    therealting Member

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    Perfect pitch is a curse and blessing.

    Blessing, because I can listen to a song the first time and write the chords or tune out as it is going along. I can start singing a tune before the other instruments come in without needing a prompt note. I can retune the guitar midtune without having to completely stop playing. I can play fretless solo without worrying about what will happen when I finally hit the open string. I can sing scat and play completely random notes. Numerous other benefits.

    Curse, but mainly because it can make it hard to think in relative terms. I can't play instruments tuned a semitone down, because the notes don't sound like they play (a *very* confusing phenomenon. I often start okay, but then accidentally play a chord or note one position lower because that's what it sounds like it should be). I am useless with a capo if I play anything above root position because the dots drive me bananas, I forget which key I'm in, and I have to remember to play in "wrong" G lower down the neck and "correct" A further up the neck (but maybe that is an intrinsic problem with capoing anyway). I can tell when a solo guitarist is playing an instrument that is out of tune by more than a few cents. Everything else I can just about work around.

    The problem with just intonation and tempered intonation is inherent to the Western 12-tone scale. You will often hear choirs and a capella groups sliding between them.

    I can work out pitch on any instrument, including sine generators, computer generated signals, or music put through a transposing device. Believe me, people have gone to all kinds of lengths to try and catch me out...
     
  18. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Supporting Member

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    I've been working on the perfect pitch thing like Lance, albeit not as diligently as I should. Different notes have different colors. And slide guitar is where you will realize how the frets are lying to you! In the key of "E," the "B" isn't a real "B" according to what the fret tells you. Your ear and your hands will push it a little. It's a funny thing, but it's a lesson in "Trust your ears."
     
  19. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Ultra cool Pedro58 I'm very interested in your progress.

    Do you hear that A and Bb thing?
     
  20. mikenz66

    mikenz66 Guest

    This thread is so intersting that I've started going to people's offices and asking their opinions on Bb.

    Last night I asked my son (who plays Sax) and he told me to go away :-(
    He did have a suggestion though. If we play guitar we tend to hear a lot of E, G, Am chords. Do those condition us to think of some notes as more "comforatable"?


    [Dm, the saddest of all keys -- Spinal Tap]
     

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