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Ear Training Software

Identifying root note of chords

Goal: To be able to hear and sing the root note of chords
Level: Beginner
Module: Triads

Dial up the triads module because we're going digging for roots. The root note is the most important note in the chord to listen for. So how do you get good as hearing them? By singing them of course. Confused yet?

In the Happy or Sad exercise we set BigEars to ONLY play root-position major and minor chords. You should set it up the same way for this exercise. Root-position simply means the root is the bass note of the chord, ie the lowest pitch.*

Under the Settings menu select Arpeggiate Chords. Now BigEars will play chords one note at a time from lowest to highest pitch. Drag the tempo slider to a nice slow tempo, like maybe 40 bpm! Press the NEXT button to hear a chord. Try to match the pitch of the root of the chord with your voice. Use REPLAY to try the same chord over and over until you can sing the root.

Notice that I haven't said anything about guessing what chord was played. The journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step, right? The journey of training your ears starts with learning to clearly hear ( and sing! ) the roots of chords.

After a while you should switch back to block chord playing style ( all notes played at once ) and see if you can still sing the root notes of the chords. Only after you've clearly got the root note in your head should you try to figure out what type of chord was played.

* It doesn't matter if you can tell a C from a Db just by hearing them. When I say "identify" the root I mean match its pitch with your voice. Don't worry about the name. Perfect pitch is fine but its not necessary to be an accomplished musician with great ears!

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