Ear Training for Single Pitches
Repeat Pitches is a very basic activity that focuses on simply repeating a pitch that is played by the computer. This is a good one for singers using a microphone as input to
the program: a correct answer means hitting that same note clearly on the first attempt. It can also be used with keyboard input, in which case it's a simple keyboard
These single-pitch ear training activities are exercises in hearing relative pitch relations. In Pitch Matching, two tones are played, the first one is displayed
on the staff, and you must find the second note on the staff, or on the piano or fretboard or an external instrument. Custom Pitch Matching is the same except that you can
choose which intervals are used (seconds, thirds, fourths, etc.) Scale Degrees in Context (also listed under Scales, below) plays a harmonic cadence followed by a single pitch.
You are to answer by choosing the box that identifies the degree of that pitch in the current key.
Practica Musica has two activities dealing with "absolute pitch," sometimes called "perfect pitch." These were by user request; we don't consider
them part of the typical musical curriculum because it is not certain that all people can acquire a sense of absolute pitch - that is, the ability to know the name
of a pitch without reference to any previous pitch. A person with absolute pitch can hear a note played and know that this is an F. There are many questions about not
only the learnability of this skill, but about its usefulness; there are great musicians both with and without absolute pitch. The activity Absolute Pitch gives you
systematic practice in attempting to identify single tones by sound only. Custom Absolute Pitch is another activity that lets you choose a set of pitches to work with.
Ear Training for Intervals
The exercise Pitch Matching (above) is in a sense an interval activity, though one doesn't have to identify the interval heard. There are a number
of activities that deal with identifying intervals by ear. The easiest of are are two from Chapter One of the textbook course: WholeStep-HalfStep asks you to distinguish
whole steps from half steps, and Octaves asks you to distinguish octaves from all other types of intervals without having to name the others.
In Course 1 you'll find Hearing Interval Qualities, in which two known intervals are played and you tell which came first.
This is a good next step in ear training because you hear both intervals side by side and are always comparing two.
Interval Ear Training has four levels of difficulty, starting with those intervals that are easiest to identify and
proceeding to more difficult distinction such as that between the major and minor sixth. Custom Interval Ear Training is similar except that you can choose the intervals
you want to study. Speed Intervals tests your quickness at identifying intervals: to score a point you must correctly identify the interval before a falling balloon pops. The
Interval Exam is a series of specific intervals that works like a test; your score on this indicates how well you would do on a similar test in school.
Getting more difficult, Interval Series combines interval identification with musical memory: you hear not one but two or more intervals, and must identify each. As you get more advanced the number
of intervals rises. Custom Interval Series is similar, but with you again choosing the intervals. Finally this category might also contain Mistuned Notes, in which certain
notes found in a melody or a chord are mistuned: what is meant to be a major third, for example, might be too flat or too sharp. Your task is to identify the mistuned notes.
This activity requires that you use the "sampled" instrument sounds provided in Practica Musica; these are the only ones that can be reliably mistuned this way.
Ear Training for Scales
Scales are the basis of melody, and Practica Musica is able to teach you to recognize all the scales and modes used in music of the western tradition,
that is, classical, pop, and jazz. A Major Scale Melody, in Course 1, displays a familiar melody and asks you to find its notes on
the keyboard. As you find each one (aided by the solfege syllables Do, Re, Mi...) the harmony also plays, just for fun. This and the activity before it, The Major Scale, could be
classified under both theory and ear training.
Scale Degrees in Context performs a cadence in a randomly chosen key and then plays a single tone whose
degree you must identify by number - is it the 1 (tonic), 2 (supertonic), and so on. See also the Melodic Scale Degrees and Solfege activities listed under Ear Training for Melody,
below. Modal Melodies is an activity that has no grading - it simply creates random melodies in the chosen mode (e.g. Phrygian) to give you a feel for the sound of melodies using the chosen
The Scale Ear Training activity
has three levels, beginning with distinguishing the major from the natural minor scale. Level two deals with the three types of minor scale: natural, harmonic, and melodic. In Level three
you learn to recognize the Church Modes (Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian) in their various transpositions. In Custom Scale Ear Training you can pick the scales
you want to work with, so your choices expand to include octatonic, two types of pentatonic, and chromatic. It is also possible to create arbitrary scales for ear training, which
opens the possibility of training with still more exotic scales. In the AP Prep Course, I.A.11. Hearing Key Relations asks that you listen to an example
containing a key change and then identify the relationship of the new key to the old. Examples are from the literature.
Ear Training for Meter
In the AP Course, activity A.09.Identifying Meter plays a number of examples and ask you to tell the meter of the example, using
multiple choice boxes. The example is afterward displayed and can be played as a beat marker that moves to mark the beat.
Ear Training for Melody
This topic can be further divided into Ear Training for Melodic Pitch, Ear Training for Rhythm, and Ear Training for both Pitch and Rhythm together.
Ear Training for Melodic Pitch.
In Melodic Scale Degrees you hear a melody and identify the scale degree of each note in the melody using multiple choice boxes (1, 2, 3, etc.)
The Solfege activity is very similar to Melodic Scale Degrees, except that it identifies degrees
using the familiar solfege syllables Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti.
In Diatonic Pitch Patterns you hear 4 brief and similar melodic passages, each of which is varied slightly while staying
in key. Which one was played? Chromatic Pitch Pattern is similar, but the variations are not within the key.
Dictation is one of the primary learning tasks in ear training for melody. Practica Musica divides dictation into separate tasks, so that you have the option of working just on pitch, just
on rhythm, or on both. Generated Pitch Dictation deals with pitch alone, using melodies invented anew each time by the computer. Rhythmic values are present just to make the melodies more interesting, but the rhythm values are automatically supplied
for you as you enter each note on the staff. All the usual tools for changing pitches on the screen apply: you can drag notes up or down to change their pitch, etc. Library Pitch
Dictation works in a similar way, except that the melodies are drawn from the literature instead of being created on the spot by the computer.Growing Melody Pitch Dictation adds an
interesting twist: the melodies begin at just two notes in length and grow longer and longer as your score rises. Progressive Pitch Dictation draws on a library of precomposed melodies
that begin very easy and grow progressively more difficult. The graduations of difficulty are more precisely controlled than in the generated melodies.
Getting more difficult, we have
2-Part Dictation and 4-Part Dictation, both using composed examples, plus Atonal Dictation and 2-Part Atonal Dictation, both of which present atonal music
freshly composed by the computer each time you ask for a new example. In Custom Atonal Dictation and Custom 2-Part Atonal Dictation you can choose the length, etc. of each example.
Also under this heading comes Pitch Errors, in which the computer invents a melody, displays it with one or more wrong notes, and asks you to correct the notes that were not played
as written. In the AP Prep Course set, II.A.3-4 Harmonic Dictation asks you to write out two parts (pitch only) of a four-part piece while also identifying the harmonies.
Ear Training for Melodic Rhythm.
Rhythm Matching invents and plays a brief rhythmic idea and asks you to repeat it by tapping the keys of the computer (or a MIDI instrument) while keeping in careful
time with the metronome.Custom Rhythm Matching is the same, except that you can choose the complexity and length of the rhythmic examples. In all these activities involving rhythm tapping
the activities are set up to play the correct pitches automatically so that you just concentrate on rhythm, typically using a couple of fingers on the middle row of letter keys. That
makes the exercise more fun.
Rhythm Patterns creates a melody and then presents 4 rhythm variations on 4 separate staves and plays one of them. Which one did you hear? In the AP prep course
you'll find these similar activities: I.A.04. Rhythmic Scale Variations, I.A.07. Dotted Rhythm Patterns, and I.A.08.Compound Rhythm Patterns.
Generated Rhythm Dictation invents melodies for dictation but requires only that you enter the correct rhythmic values: the pitches of notes will adjust automatically to match the model. Library
Rhythm Dictation does the same thing with examples drawn from the literature.
Ear Training for Pitch and Rhythm Together.
Intermediate to Advanced:
This category includes all activities dealing with full melodic dictation in one or more parts. Generated Full Dictation has four levels of
difficulty and creates an infinite number of new melodies that you can write by ear. The program marks any pitch or rhythm errors in your transcription and lets you hear both your version and the
original. Library Full Dictation is similar but uses precomposed examples from the literature. Another difference is that the Library version of this activity doesn't let you
see the correct answer unless you've figured it out. The generated version lets you see the answer regardless since it knows you'll never see that melody again. Two activities in the AP Prep Course set
also do full melodic dictation, each with one level of difficulty. These are II.A.1 Dictation, in simple meters, and II.A.2. Dictation, in compound meters.
Ear Training for Single Chords
These activities all present chords individually, with no context.
Major and Minor Triads is in Course 1. It plays two chords on the same root, one major and one minor, and asks you which came first. This is a good place
to start because there are only those two choices, and you are always hearing two chords side by side that are the same except for being major or minor.
In Chapter Seven of the Textbook Course, Recognizing Triads presents major, minor, and (after
you are getting the major and minor) diminished triads in various voicings and you identify them by type. Though the chords may sometimes be inverted you are not required
in this activity to identify the inversion.
Intermediate to advanced:
Recognizing Seventh Chords presents the common seventh chords for identification. You can compare a wrong answer with the right one, as is the
case in other activities where we think it would be helpful.
Chord Ear Training has four levels, Triads, Seventh Chords, Inverted Triads, and Inverted
Seventh Chords. In the levels with inversions you need to be able to distinguish the different inversions; for those levels of this activity it is not enough to recognize just the chord
type. Hearing Chord Inversions concentrates on the topic of distinguishing the different inversions of the most common chords. Chord Pitch Patterns displays four different
chords that each have the same bass, and plays one of them. You identify which chord was played by clicking the appropriate box. Custom Chord Ear Training is like the Chord Ear Training
activity except it has only one level, in which you can choose which chords you want to study.
Ear Training for Chords in Progression
The common element in these activities is that they use Roman numerals to identify chords, so again this requires some theory - you need to know the
meaning of Roman numerals as applied to chords.
The easiest of these is from Chapter Nine of the textbook course, Recognizing Primary Chords. In the beginning you will only tell I or i
(the tonic chord in major or minor) from V (the dominant chord, built on the 5th note of the scale).
Chord Progression Ear Training is a larger activity with 4 levels of difficulty
all generated by the computer so that each example is different: level 1 is primary triads, level 2 adds the supertonic and submediant, level 3 adds other secondary triads, and
level 4 introduces secondary dominants. Both minor and major keys are covered. Library Chord Progressions works in a similar way but draws all its examples from Bach's chorale harmonizations.
Custom Progressions lets you choose which chord groups you want to appear in generated progressions.
Hearing Altered Chords concentrates on progressions involving secondary dominants, Neapolitan, and augmented sixth chords. Under this heading could also be included the activities
that combine dictation with chord identification: activity II.A.3-4 Harmonic Dictation from the AP Course is mentioned above under the dictation topic because one must write out 2 of the voices in
a four-voice texture. But the other part of the problem is identifying the chords by Roman numeral (examples are again drawn from Bach). See also Pitch Dictation with Chords, in which you again write
two voices of a four-part texture while identifying the chords by Roman numeral.