There are many ways to get the job done.
But, if you want get relative pitch now, make it last permanently, and avoid major headache, then there is one way to do just that.
Here is a specific method of ear training that will teach you relative pitch in the best way, no matter what instrument you play.
The Whole Point Of Relative Pitch
It’s first best to understand that relative pitch is a completely different skill than absolute pitch. That understanding alone tells you that you need to approach your practice to these skills very differently.
Absolute pitch (otherwise known as perfect pitch) is simply the skill to name notes that are being played, without the use of a reference note.
Relative pitch determines the relationship of those notes that are being played. That relationship defines the meaning and the function of these notes.
By focusing on the function of the notes, a deeper understanding of the music takes place.
However, determining the function of notes has everything to do with how you understand notes to be organized.
So here is the best method for developing relative pitch in a painless and permanent way.
The First Step Toward Establishing Relative Pitch
The first step toward establishing relative pitch begins with your ability to correctly spell enharmonic notes.
These 2 notes (Ab and G#) essentially have the same sound. However, the choice you make to spell the note determines the way you perceive that note to be functioning.
For example, Ab is the flat 6th of a C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A (6th note in the scale), B).
If I spell the same note G#, then I am understanding that note to be functioning as a #5 of a C major scale instead of a flat 6th (C, D, E, F, G (5th note in the scale), A , B).
So, for step 1: get your enharmonic spellings correct.
Write out and spell the notes out for minor seconds, major seconds, minor thirds, major thirds, perfect fourths, augmented fourths, diminished fifths, perfect fifths, minor sixths, major sixths, minor sevenths, major sevenths, etc….
This honestly should take only a fews days of serious focus and then it should just snap. You’ll just see the pattern of how these notes should be spelled out correctly.
You may be thinking that this sounds very intellectual and has nothing to do with actually hearing the notes. But, remember that relative pitch is really how you ultimately process the notes you are hearing.
If you understand how to spell notes correctly, you will process them clearly, learn music more efficiently, and recognize what you’re hearing faster.
You wont make the mistake of calling a minor 7th interval these notes: C and A#. This is actually a raised 6th interval.
Instead you will call the notes of a minor 7th interval: C and Bb.
The Next Step Interval Ear Training
Now that you got your enharmonic spellings down pat, you need to start training your ears to hear intervals.
Start out with listening to basic intervals a lot. You want to get to a point where you recognize basic intervals without the need of calculating the distance of the notes in your head.
There are a few ways of doing this:
- You can use ear training mp3′s like the ones I’ve made.
- You can use online ear training websites like Good Ear.
- You can use ear training software like EarMaster.
The Final Step Transcribe Music
Now that you know how to spell and you understand the very basic of the musical language, transcribe music. A lot of it.
Immerse yourself in all styles and sounds of music and transcribe musical phrases that speak to you emotionally. Make music become a language.
This final step is where most musicians trying to learn relative pitch fall short. They feel that all they need to know is how to name intervals, chord qualities, chord progressions, etc…
Naming is not enough.
What good is relative pitch if you cant apply it? What good is knowing how to name a minor 6th if you don’t know when to play a minor 6th to make someone feel a specific emotion?
Ignoring this final step is one of the main reasons why musicians trying to learn relative pitch have difficulty recognizing intervals when music is actually happening. They can only recognize intervals in an isolated way.
Don’t be that person. Save yourself years of headache.
- Understand music in an organized way.
- Master recognizing the basic intervals.
- Immerse yourself in music and understand how these intervals function in a musical context.
A few months of focused ear training practice using this method is all you need to reach a good level of relative pitch that can allow you to play what your hearing, learn songs faster, improvise on your instrument, and jam with other people.