Melody admin Thu, 06/23/2016 - 10:54

A melody is a sequence of notes played one after the other. It is the "tune" of a song - the part that most people generally know and sing. Melodies can be described in terms of numbers, where each note in the melody receives a number corresponding to its position in the scale. This numbering system is at the heart of learning to play melodies by ear, as it makes them easier to identify, recall and transpose to other keys.


Scales admin Thu, 06/23/2016 - 12:07

A scale is a set of notes grouped together in a specific pattern. The most commonly used scale in popular music is the major scale. The notes of the major scale are numbered from 1 to 8, with the tonic assigned the number 1 and other tones moving up in sequence to the octave, which is number 8.

Major Scales

In the major scale, notes are arranged in a specific sequence of half steps and whole steps. A half step is the distance from one note to the next closest note. On a piano, the distance from any key to the next closest key (regardless of whether it is a black key or white key) is a half step. A whole step is equivalent to two half steps. To construct a major scale from any starting tone, use the following arrangement of whole steps (W) and half steps (H):

Here are some examples:

C Major: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
D Major: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
D E F# G A B C# D
G Major: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
G A B C D E F# G
Notice that the pattern of whole steps and half steps (W-W-H-W-W-W-H) is always the same regardless of which tone is used for the tonic. The first step in ear training is to learn the pattern for the major scale and the numbers for each note in the scale. The numbers of the scale are sometimes called scale degrees. For further reference: Major scale - Wikipedia The Major Scale -

Minor Scales

Compared to major scales, minor scales have a darker and heavier sound. They also have their own pattern and order. Here is the pattern of whole steps (W) and half steps (H) used to create a minor scale:

And here are some examples of minor scales:

C Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
D Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
D E F G A Bb C D
G Minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
G A Bb C D Eb F G

As you can see, the minor scale follows the interval pattern of W-H-W-W-H-W-W. To create a minor scale in any key, begin on the tonic of the key, and add scale tones according to this pattern.
You can use the piano keyboard below to see examples of any major or minor scale. Simply choose the tonic (starting tone or "root" of the scale), press the play button for either the major or minor scale, and observe which notes are used to build the scale.

Paddle Tones and Tone Drops will train you to quickly match each scale tone with its number as soon as you hear it. This will strengthen your sense of relative pitch.

Melodic Intervals

Melodic Intervals admin Thu, 06/23/2016 - 12:07

An interval is the distance (in scale steps) between two pitches. A melodic interval occurs when two notes are played in sequence, one after the other. Intervals can also be harmonic, meaning that the two notes are played together at the same time. For example, taking C as the tonic (the "1" or the first degree of the scale), then the third degree of the C major scale is E, so the interval between C and E is called a major third. If we the second tone in a major interval is lowered by one half step, the interval becomes minor. The example below shows a major third and a minor third, each starting on C.

Major 3rd
Minor 3rd

There are four intervals which are called perfect intervals, and are found in both major and minor scales. Perfect intervals include the unison (same tone repeated), fourth (five half steps), fifth (seven half steps) and octave (twelve half steps). The examples below show the perfect fourth and perfect fifth intervals starting on C.

Perfect 4th
Perfect 5th

Intervals provide the basic framework for almost everything in music. Small intervals such as half steps and whole steps combine to form scales. Larger intervals combine to make chords. The ability to identify intervals by ear is one of the major goals of ear training. Intervals are fundamental to working out melodies by ear. They are also used to help identify the quality of chords, in determining for example whether a chord is major, minor, augmented or diminished. Use the Interval Demo application below to compare the sounds of different melodic intervals. First select a bottom tone, then press the buttons to hear how various melodic intervals sound when played from that tone. Also be sure to check out the difference between ascending and descending intervals.

Melodic Drops will help you quickly recognize the most commonly used intervals. It starts with a small set of the most basic intervals and progresses gradually through the complete set, played with a variety of instruments.

Melodic Dictation

Melodic Dictation admin Thu, 06/23/2016 - 12:06

Melodic dictation (also called transcription) involves the ability to hear a piece of music and quickly play it back or write down the notes of the melody. One of the main goals of ear training is to strengthen your powers of visualization - being able to hear a phrase and immediately visualize how it will look and feel when played on your instrument. Melodic dictation is closely tied to visualization, and is a skill that most experienced improvisers and composers have developed to a high degree.

To begin building this important skill, start with very short fragments - three or four notes of a simple melody. Try to sing the phrase and convert the tones of the melody to scale numbers. Visualize how the melody will look and feel on your instrument. Soon you will be ready to move on to longer, more complex phrases. Notice how the longer phrases are often made up of shorter melodic patterns that you already know. As your ability increases, you will eventually be able to mentally practice and compose music away from your instrument.

Parrot Phrases will greatly increase your visualization skills. By regularly training your ear with this game, you will soon be able to mentally 'see' exactly how to play all kinds of melodies on a piano or guitar.