I’ve previously been on these forums complaining about how much I hate transcribing, and how bad I am at interval ear training … and while those things are still true, I have had some little “wins” lately that give me some hope that my ears are starting to sharpen up a bit.
The first little win: I was just picking out random notes on the fretboard one day, no particular scale or tune, just fiddling around. I played one note and then suddenly I thought “hey that sounds just like the first note of Stairway”. And you know what, I was right! The note I played was the 5th string at the 12th fret, which is the same A as on the 4th string 7th fret from the Stairway intro.
It sounds like a small thing but from my point of view this is a really big deal, because I wasn’t thinking about the frets and crunching the numbers, I really did hear the note and recognise it, by absolute pitch, and with no context. Crazy!
The other win: I needed to tune into Drop D for a song, but I wasn’t too fussy about getting it right, I just wanted to practise the chord grips in the song without it sounding completely wrong. So I tuned the low E string down roughly 2 semitones, didn’t use a tuner, just got it in the ballpark. Then when I was done with the song, went to tune it back to E standard and decided to try tuning it by ear this time. I got it to where it sounded right, and when I checked it with a tuner, it was bang on!
I remember trying to tune strings by ear in the past and having a horrible time of it.
So that’s it, just wanted to share these little good news stories. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be able to do this kind of stuff today, I would have raised a very skeptical eyebrow. But here we are! If I can improve my ears, almost anybody can.
have you been using any type of ear training app?
No, not really. Just playing guitar and listening to music a whole bunch every day. Trying to pay attention to the pitches when I am listening.
I tried interval trainers a couple of times, but it felt like I couldn’t even do the most basic exercises so I gave up on that. Might be interesting to try it again now and see if I’ve gotten better.
You mean, there’s hope even for me?
Just kidding . Congrats, and thanks for sharing
So cool! Someday, I hope to have better ears, I am still trying to figure out what note my tinnitus is…
Hi Brendan, it’s nice to hear from you and with good news too!
That’s what I say, referring to myself! IMHO what it really takes to start off is some self-confidence that we can do it.
I find that when I don’t try and I’m just spending some relaxed time with my guitar my ears are more responsive and I can work out melodies by ear, which I’ll soon forget…but since I know I was able to do it I’m confident I’ll be able to do it again, I relax down without trying hard, my ears are more responsive and over and over again the happy circle
Exactly same feeling! And a few weeks ago I worked out the first verse of Hey Jude and Let it be and some children 'stuff…if I’m dreaming please don’t wake me up!
Oh, I was forgetting…congratulations on this new awareness of yours! Keep on going and trust the process
Playing and listening will definitely improve your ear. It happens over time, as you said. You can’t really force it to happen but you can help it to happen by playing and listening to intervals.
Over time, your ear becomes more finely tuned and the different intervals become more distinct.
Play What You Hear is a great exercise and sometimes it turns into Hear What You Play.
I can be just messing about with the major scale and something familiar pops out and then I’ll try to find a bit more of the tune.
Yeah it’s fun when that happens. I have stumbled into stuff like When The Saints and the Star Wars Force Theme just plonking around the major scale. It’s nice when you get that little spark of recognition and think “oh hey, isn’t that …?” and then see how far you can go with it.
I totally get this one. I had a moment like that a few weeks back. Just messing around, played something, stopped and thought “that sounds like the beginning of X Supertramp song” (forget which ATM). Found a lesson video and confirmed I was correct.
Stupidly satisfying moment. Told my wife about it after the practice session (acknowledging I was being ridiculously proud of a tiny thing).
And I say this as a guy who 100% resonates with the comment in the (I think) 2nd Captain’s Privates video that transcription “just feels like homework”.
There might be hope for all of us yet!
Yep, you got it! These little lightbulb moments all add to our learning and playing!
This might help you identify the frequency, and then once you have that, this table can tell you the musical note. Mine seems to be around 12KHz which equates to somewhere between an F# and a G.
That is pretty neat. For a quick office trial with a lot of ambient noise and iPhone speakers, I get around 2500 hz or Eb to E.
The tone is not obnoxious, but it is loud, often.
Tinnitus really stinks… I’ve had it really bad since a Van Halen concert in 1981… the absolute loudest show I’ve ever seen… I woke up the morning afterwards with what sounds like a swarm of cicadas in my ears that have never gone away…
I loved Van Halen SOOOO MUCH, but was the concert worth it?
At least it was a concert. Mine got bad after using a leaf blower…
Mine’s mostly likely a mix of live fire training in the Army, and then a concert a few years ago with about 8th row seats and my right earplug not properly set. The tix were a gift, so not even a particularly favorite band. It’s thankfully not too bad, but some days…
My sympathies to anyone who has tinnitus. I only had it for a few weeks (secondary symptom from being sick with a cold) but it was extremely annoying.
Dang power tools.
I wonder if there is a relationship between the causation (concerts, firearms, power tools, etc.) and frequency of tinnitus…
That’s cool Brendan, in many ways the little wins are better because they just appear out of nowhere!!