Developing The Ear/brain
Phil66
Jun 12 2021, 07:56 AM
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Hello folks,

I don't think I'm "tone deaf" because I can tune my guitar to itself once I've got the low E sorted, I can do unison bends, and I know if the tab I'm using is a semitone out (as long as I've listened to the solo enough or if I play the incorrect note over the recording).

What I really really struggle with is bending to pitch, my brain doesn't seem to recognise when I've reached a semitone or a whole tone etc, I've spent many hours with ear training apps, many hours picking a note, dropping down a fret or two then trying to bend to it but I have to rely on my Boss TU-3 to tell me if I'm correct. I don't use the Boss to help me get there, I only look at it when I think I'm at pitch, but, most of the time the needle is halfway between 0 and - 50, it's not very often sharp, mostly flat and once in a blue moon it's within 5 cents but I just put that down to luck.

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to get it, it's not like a mechanical skill that can be developed, it seems to be like colour blindness.

Any ideas to find something that might help? I've even thought about hypnosis rolleyes.gif

Thanks

Phil

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Caelumamittendum
Jun 12 2021, 12:08 PM
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Totally brainstorming an idea here:

Have you tried using, making or perhaps kindly asking Gabriel for a slow backing track with maybe just triads playing, then bending into the chord tones and trying to use your ear to hear if you've done it correctly - just as you would when you've tuned your guitar.

Example:

Chord: D minor
Bend: From 13th fret of the B string to the 15th. C note to D note. Whole step.

Then maybe it moves on to an F chord and you could bend from E to F. Half step.
You can bend quickly or slowly, but at some point you should hopefully have the same sensation of being "in pitch" that you have when you tune your guitar. For me I sort of think of and feel it as wavelengths - when the C note is bent to a D note, it will have either the same wavelength as the D in the chord, or at least a harmonious wavelength (doubled, same, half, quartered*). This is of course only relating to bending a note into a chord tone. The wavelengths for an F note and an A note would obviously be different.

In my mind it's very much relating pitch and muscle memory, so I'm gonna argue it's partly training your hands too, but equally your mind. But maybe it's easier to do so if it's in a musical setting rather than just the practice with a tuner. If you can use your ear to tune from one tuned note, then I'm sure you can do it when bending as well, as it would seem your ear is fine, and it's more related to that connection between ear and muscle memory.

*

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Mertay
Jun 12 2021, 01:12 PM
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If I had to guess, it would be about playing the sound in your head while playing guitar related and there are many levels to it.

Think of it like a song you know well playing on the radio, you don't "actually" replay it in your head while listening as that would feel uneasy. But a sense of the next moment (in miliseconds) is always there. If that song would have changed in anyway unexpected, you'd immediately notice.

Now actually do that (don't hold a guitar in hands) while relaxed and try memorizing you state of mind. After grasping it, try studying the basics of bends again but force yourself to be in that relaxed but aware state.

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Phil66
Jun 12 2021, 03:47 PM
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Thanks Ben and Mertay

Even a song I know really really well like Always With Me Always With You by Satriani, I've listened to that thousands of times, know it or by heart, can hear when Satch makes a mistake live, but still couldn't work out the beginning, not even any bends there, someone gave me their homemade TAB and I played the first few bars and instantly heard an error, his transcription was one fret out on one note.

It's a really strange thing going on with my brain/ear/pitch memory connection sad.gif

I was working on a book with Troy Stetina a few years ago, Hal Leonard liked the idea but life got in the way for Troy at the time. We worked on about three chapters before Troy had to pull out. My concept was to start out with two note exercises giving only the first note, student had to find the second. Then student given the second and had to find the first.

Next: three notes student given first second or third and had to find the others.

Next: Increasing the amount of notes, varying which note is given working up to bends etc and finally, long runs with no notes given.

I think that's a good way to do ear training. Maybe I should record a few myself, log the answers and wait until I've forgotten them and then work through them.

I think I'll have to stick to slides when improvising laugh.gif

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Todd Simpson
Jun 12 2021, 06:16 PM
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The way I taught myself to mimic songs was pretty basic. I would listen to the song and just move my hand around the sixth string to find what I thought might be the root note as that note would often match up. Then I would play the blues scale from that point and see if it matched any other notes that I'd heard. Then I'd stitch it together one note at a time. On bends I'd find hte actual note and then go back to frets to find the source fret. It was not high tech, and it took years, but now my ear is sorta trained smile.gif

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Mertay
Jun 12 2021, 06:20 PM
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QUOTE (Phil66 @ Jun 12 2021, 02:47 PM) *
...


I actually had a lyrical song in mind rather than instrumental. Maybe you're one of those who didn't spend enough time on the acoustic guitar before going electric laugh.gif

But seriously though, I didn't look deep into it but Gab. new songwriting course may be more beneficial for you than we might guess. Atleast being able to strum and sing one song at the same time (you don't have to sing well, but in tune and timing must be proper) has tremendous advantages if you never tried it.

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Phil66
Jun 12 2021, 06:51 PM
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QUOTE (Mertay @ Jun 12 2021, 06:20 PM) *
I actually had a lyrical song in mind rather than instrumental. Maybe you're one of those who didn't spend enough time on the acoustic guitar before going electric laugh.gif


My Yamaha FG 411C was my third guitar and my least played, maybe you're right buddy tongue.gif

I did go through a stage with Gab where I was transcribing stuff, I struggled transcribing anything non guitar. That's another problem, if it's a different sound but the same now I find it even harder. I transcribed a few lines of Adele's Someone Like You, that was okay but there are many subtle nuances in the human voice that throw you off, some words I had Reaper looping at quarter speed just to find the notes laugh.gif I found Paul McCartney hard, McCartney's voice sounds like something from the Exorcist when slowed right down, nowhere near as pure as Adele.

My finest moment and the one I was most proud of was the intro to Style Council's You're The Best Thing. I actually worked a few notes of that without resorting to looping one note, I looped three of four laugh.gif it goes from open strings all the way up to the 14th fret.



Maybe I should do more of that.

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This post has been edited by Phil66: Jun 23 2021, 09:29 PM


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PosterBoy
Jun 13 2021, 04:24 PM
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Best thing about learning the guitar in the 80's and early 90s was there was no internet or tabs to learn from.
So my teenage years were spent constantly rewinding tapes and listening to 5 secs segments over and over again.

As for bends each string has different tension and requires more or less effort so remember that.
I would suggest play a note and then go to the fret below and bend up a half step to that note, then check it again. Then try 2 frets below.
Do that for a major scale down a string then go to the next string.

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Phil66
Jun 13 2021, 05:07 PM
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QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Jun 13 2021, 04:24 PM) *
...


Thanks for that. I've tried many many things, I just never actually know that I'm at pitch or not without checking on the tuner. It's kinda like I don't know/remember the pitch or interval in my head.

Regarding string tensions, I can't really rely on physical movement as all my guitars are different, hard tails, Floyd's, 10s 12s and my SRV Strat currently has a set of balanced tension D'Addario 10s on.

I know they say people lose perfect pitch over 50 so I know I can never develop that but some kind of relative pitch would be good.

As I said though, I realised that my friend's TAB for AWMAWY was out by a semitone on one of the licks so I must have something there.

Cheers.

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This post has been edited by Phil66: Jun 13 2021, 08:27 PM


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Monica Gheorghev...
Jun 14 2021, 10:01 AM
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QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Jun 13 2021, 03:24 PM) *
Best thing about learning the guitar in the 80's and early 90s was there was no internet or tabs to learn from.
So my teenage years were spent constantly rewinding tapes and listening to 5 secs segments over and over again.

I also spent my teenage years in the same way. Rewinding tapes over and over again and putting the notes that I hear on my piano. smile.gif Best time to develop good ears.

QUOTE (Phil66 @ Jun 13 2021, 04:07 PM) *
Regarding string tensions, I can't really rely on physical movement as all my guitars are different, hard tails, Floyd's, 10s 12s and my SRV Strat currently has a set of balanced tension D'Addario 10s on.

Haha....this made me laugh. biggrin.gif See....too many guitars are not always a good thing. biggrin.gif
Now talking serious....you don't need to change the guitar daily because isn't a sock. biggrin.gif Usually, when you buy a guitar, you need to spent enough time with it to create a connection. A bond relation between player and guitar it not appear over night. It's all about how much time you spent with that guitar.
Choose a guitar and practice on it few weeks minimum. Work at ear training on the same guitar. When you will control that guitar perfectly, you will see that when you will play on other guitar, things will be easier. wink.gif


Are few things that really help on developing the sense of pitch.

1. Your voice.
Train your ear to recognize notes by playing the same note over and over while singing or humming it. Then associate the sound with the name of the note in your mind. The more clearly you can hear a note in your head, the better you’ll become at identifying pitches.

2. Singing solfege (i don't know how to write this in english: solfege or solfeggio)
When I was in music school the solfege classes were difficult courses but very important for ear training. Those million of hours that I invested on doing solfege, have made the difference years later.

3. Avoid using tabs.
Tabs are a real enemy for ear developing. The brain stay in a lazy mode and the eyes remain the ones who make the job. This is a bad thing because the purpose is to strengthen the connection between your head and your fingers.
I personally even when I learn lessons, I avoid to use the tabs. Why? Because even a good ear developed need a constant training. So, I prefer to make things in the old way with no tabs and letting all my trust in my ears.

4. Don't mess the practice.
If you start to work at too many things in the same time, everything will goes wrong. Each new thing that you learn require a highly focus.
If you want to work at sense of pitch, don't try to learn to recognize all the notes in the same day because it will be a mix of sounds in your head and the next day you will not be able to recognize something.
In each day learn to recognize the sonority of a note (normal and bends). Do this thing million of times for the same note and at some point you will be able to make the bends in a correct pitch. wink.gif

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Phil66
Jun 14 2021, 12:21 PM
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QUOTE (Monica Gheorghevici @ Jun 14 2021, 10:01 AM) *
...


That's great advice Monica, thank you.

I don't play a different guitar every day tongue.gif I have three that are my go to guitars, my SRV Strat, Ibby RG1570 and my PRS SE Custom 24. Maybe I should just pick the most versatile and wear it out by only using that one.

The Solfege idea is a good one, and I think maybe, in the past, I've tried to do too much at once. I think I might be convincing myself that I'll never be able to do it because of reading about not being able to develop perfect pitch and or losing perfect pitch over 50 years old. Maybe perfect pitch is a different thing to recognising the twelve western notes, I don't know.

Thanks again.

Phil

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Monica Gheorghev...
Jun 14 2021, 03:02 PM
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Phil...I just remembered one more trick that I learned in music school. It's very easy and perfect for ear training. smile.gif

When you start to work at your sense of pitch, choose a note to use as your personal reference pitch. With other words a reference pitch means that you have a note that you can sing accurately at any time.
As an example, if I want to sing something I always use the note A to tune my voice. This because in school we always used a tuning fork before to sing something. That sound remained to my mind forever.
The best thing is the fact that when you memorize your reference pitch, will allow you to easily sing intervals, scales, chords. Believe me, learning to use a reference pitch is the most valuable tool in ear training.

Usually the pianists use middle C and guitarists E as reference pitch but no matter on what instrument I play, I prefer to use A as my personal reference pitch. smile.gif

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klasaine
Jun 14 2021, 03:30 PM
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You don't need perfect pitch to bend in tune.
Most musicians do not have perfect pitch.
All of the comments and suggestions above are great. I will only add two things ...

1) Focus your efforts with only one of your guitars for a while - a month or two. Learn to "feel" it on that guitar. Once you can do it consistently and confidently on one axe, the others will be easier.

2) I had a guitar teacher who made me play a major scale (slowly) by bending up to the notes: one fret bends, then two fret bends. His reasoning was that it's easy to 'hear' the intervals of a major scale.

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Phil66
Jun 14 2021, 03:45 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Jun 14 2021, 03:30 PM) *
...


Thanks Ken,

Interesting. I'll give it a whirl.

cool.gif


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Phil66
Jun 23 2021, 09:48 PM
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A big thank you to you all. I read through all of your posts a few times and I think it was more down to you all being positive and believing that I could do it that somehow made ME believe that I could do it.

I'm no Dylan Beato by any stretch of the imagination but tonight I did ten A to B bends in a row and they were all within 2cents, then I started to go off a bit. I am getting more consistent though smile.gif

My method, I have my Boss TU-3 permanently on, I start off picking a note looking at the the display, saying the note name, closing my eyes and saying the target note. I pick again and bend until I think it's correct and then open my eyes to check. I do it on random strings and frets and get quite close, sometimes spot on but after a couple of minutes I start to drift and get larger errors. I then get on with my current lesson and at random times I do another few minutes of ear training as above. I'm only concentrating on whole time bends at the moment but I'm definitely improving. I guess it will be harder with a backing track to distract me but at least it's a start.

Thank you so much for helping me believe that I could do it. The results I'm getting are giving me more self belief too.

Strange thing the power of the mind.

As Ben (Higgins) says, "The only enemy is within".

Thank you again you wonderful people wub.gif

Stay safe

Phil

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