Sound

Sound admin Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:18

Although not included in most traditional ear-training methods, the ability to recognize different sound qualities is a critical skill for most musicians. An experienced player with a sharp ear can quickly discern which instruments should be louder or softer in the mix, which parts need more treble or bass, and where to most effectively apply reverb, echo, and other effects. We group these properties under the general heading of Sound, and learning to identify and describe them is a key part of training your ear.

Volume and Mixing

Volume and Mixing admin Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:20

When a group of musicians play together, one of the most important components of their sound is the mix of their instruments, and the respective volume of each instrument in the mix. Most experienced musicians have trained their ears to pick up not only melody, harmony and rhythm, but also the subtle differences in volume levels and instrument sounds that make up the overall sound of a group.

To develop a strong sense of instrumentation, dynamics and acoustics, practice listening to individual parts during a group performance, "zeroing in" on particular instruments. Learn the sounds of various different instruments, and how particular sets of instruments sound in combination.

Channel Scramble will train you to quickly catch small changes in the mix of a song. You will also begin to hear more clearly the sounds of individual instruments in various genres and styles.

Effects

Effects admin Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:21

A vast array of audio effects are used in virtually all popular music today, both in studio and live settings. Effects can be used to add color to a sound, or to completely reshape it. If you play guitar or bass, you are probably already familiar with at least some of the effect pedals that can be used to alter your tone. Effects are also found frequently on amplifiers and PA mixers.

Here are some of the most widely used effects:

Equalizer (EQ) - Boosts or reduces specific frequencies in a signal. Adjusts the bass, mid-range and treble components of a sound. Frequently found on PA mixers, equalizers can also be used to reduce feedback.

Distortion/Overdrive - Creates a 'dirty' or 'fuzzy' sound by compressing the original signal and adding overtones to it.

Reverb - Simulates the effect of a room on the original signal, based on the echoes created when the signal bounces and reflects off the walls of the room.

Delay - Repeats the original signal after a specified unit of time.

Chorus - Thickens a sound by producing the illusion of multiple instances of the original signal.

Flanger/Phaser/Tremolo - Creates a 'whooshing' sound by mixing the original signal with another that has been 'phase-shifted'.

Regardless of your instrument or style, knowing the basic sounds produced by each of these effects will help make you a better musician. It will also help you to make better decisions about what kind of gear and settings to use. When you are sound checking for a live performance, you will be better able to explain to the engineer at the mixing board what kind of sound you want from the PA (especially regarding reverb and EQ).

 

Instrumentation

Instrumentation admin Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:21

In music, instrumentation refers to the combination of instruments used to perform a song or piece, as well as the sound of each individual instrument. Musicians should be able to discern which instruments are playing at any given time. Songwriters and composers can greatly increase their creative choices by having a large mental vocabulary of instrument sounds at their disposal.

See also: Instrumentation (Wikipedia)

Band Match will train your ear to recognize the sound of many different instruments and instrument combinations.

Equalization

Equalization admin Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:22

Equalization is used to adjust the sound of an instrument so that certain frequencies are either accentuated or reduced. This is useful in both recording and live performance, and some form of equalizer (EQ) unit is used by all audio engineers. By adjusting its EQ, the engineer can change the timbre of an instrument, causing it to stand out prominently or pushing it into the background.

EQ units are also used to balance out peculiarities in the acoustics of a particular room or hall, especially in live settings. The simplest kind of equalizer is a tone control which adjusts the bass (low frequecies) or treble (high frequencies) of the audio signal. A typical graphic equalizer has slider controls for at least 5 frequency ranges (bands), allowing the gain for each frequency range to be boosted or cut. Many instrumentalists - especially guitarists and bassists - use graphic equalizer pedals among their effects in order to get better control over their tone.

See also: Equalization (Wikipedia)

EQ Match will train your ear to hear the different frequencies on a 5-band graphic equalizer, using a wide variety of instrument samples.