Hearing Intervals (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown

Hearing Intervals

In lesson three of his ear training series, Matt Brown explains how to identify melodic intervals by ear.

Taught by Matt Brown in Ear Training with Matt Brown seriesLength: 52:34Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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jonmm66jonmm66 replied

whats the software mentioned?

Bradley.ConwayBradley.Conway replied

Hello jonmm66! The ear training software that Matt refers to is called "Macgamut" You can find out more information by copy and pasting the following link into your browser: https://www.macgamut.com

scullen17scullen17 replied

What is the name of the software you mentioned?

grburgessgrburgess replied

Minor seventh - last note of the 4 note vocal build up in the "Twist and Shout" song. It's basically an arpeggio of a dom 7th chord.

jayspencerjayspencer replied

Your awesome! Im doing a course called 'David Burge's Relative Pitch', and i couldn't get the sound of the perfect fourths 'in my head', the second you did the 'here comes the bride' example i passed the mini exam on the course perfectly! Thank you! Just one question, you said in an earlier comment that your either born with or without perfect pitch, but David Burge also has a course to develop PP, he seems like a very reputable guy and he says anyone can develop it, i'm just wondering if you think this is something worth doing? Can it definitely not be developed? Or is it that it takes so much effort its almost not worth it, better to spend your time on other musical stuff? Thanks anyway, your lessons are awesome!

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hey Jay! I'm so glad that you're finding these lessons useful! On the perfect pitch topic, it's definitely not worth your time trying to develop it. "Relative perfect pitch" (what I'm teaching here -- the ability to identify intervalic movement) most definitely is. Let me clarify...I don't have perfect pitch. If you were to play a random note on guitar, I could guess a note in the neighborhood of what you played. A person with perfect pitch could guess the exact note and maybe even tell you how many cents sharp or flat it is. On the other hand, if you play any sort of musical passage and tell me what the starting pitch is, I can almost instantly play or sing back the passage without even picking up an instrument to hunt for the correct notes. That's far more practical and useful of a skill to develop as a musician. By developing perfect pitch, you'll be able to play anything by ear. In addition, you'll instantly be able to apply the song ideas floating around in your head to your instrument.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Sorry. I meant to type "by developing RELATIVE perfect pitch"...in the last sentence.

jayspencerjayspencer replied

Thanks for your reply! Perfect Pitch is out of the window then! Im going to train my relative pitch like crazy! :)

raynobleraynoble replied

Dear Matt-While learning lesson 3 you mentioned some ear training software. I did not catch the name-sounded like 'mat gammet' or something. I am enjoying your lessons. It is very important for me as I play guitar and fiddle at Irish sessions where it is very uncool to be able to read music which is how I learned to play.

raynobleraynoble replied

I found the answer to my question in an old comment for another lesson: Macgamut

gilbert714gilbert714 replied

Are these lessons leaning toward rock music .

mattbrownmattbrown replied

I would say they are not genre specific at all. The information presented in these lessons can be applied to all styles of music.

flyingtachflyingtach replied

Hi Matt, I just joined JamPlay a couple of weeks ago. So far, I am enjoying your teaching style the best so far. A couple of comments for your other students: I did some formal ear training about 30 years ago and are just getting back to it. We used the Solfege system. We would have passages and have to sing them in front of the class using the Do-re-me-etc notes. Like Twinkle song: Do-Do-Sol-Sol-La-La-Sol... It is a very effective way to learn. One more comment: Quiz 3 question 17 is listed as C# to E, but is listed as M3 instead of m3. Thanks a lot for your lessons.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hi there! Thanks for the kind words! If and when more lessons are filmed for this series, I'll definitely get into Solfege and sight singing. I do a lot with that in private lessons. I don't think anything improves your ears better than singing. I'll get the supplemental content fixed...Thanks for the heads up on that!

echegollenechegollen replied

In order to become good at transcribing songs, wouldn't it be more effective to learn to recognize the different pitches (A-B-C-D-E-F-G) instead of learning the intervals?

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Well, that only works if you have "perfect pitch." Typically, perfect pitch is something people are either born with or without. If you're not born with it, you need to develop what's called "relative perfect pitch" by working on hearing intervals. Developing relative perfect pitch is the best way to get close to having perfect pitch. Like I said though, if you weren't born with it, you'll probably never truly develop "perfect pitch" (where you can recognize the pitch of a certain note when no other notes are played). Regardless of whether you have perfect pitch or not, you'll always be able to transcribe music more quickly and accurately by using interval relationships rather trying to figure out isolated, individual pitches by themselves.

echegollenechegollen replied

Good explanation. Thanks! Now correct me if I'm wrong, let's say I identify a sound as being a minor 3rd, I still need to figure out which notes are being played? This means I would have to guess one of the 2 pitches...

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Right...The exercises in this lesson are just designed to improve your ability to identify intervals. So, if you're trying to figure out something by ear, you need to know what the starting pitch is. If you have perfect pitch, you can probably identify this note right off the bat. For the rest of us though, we need to use our guitars, a keyboard, pitch pipe, etc. to figure out what the first note is. From there, if you know your intervals inside and out, you can figure out the rest of the song without any help from your guitar. Of course, it takes a long time and a lot of practice to get to that point. But, it's definitely worth it! My primary goal as a musician is to write great songs. Through developing my ear training skills, I'm able to instantly hear ideas I'm hearing in my head to a song I want to write, regardless of whether it's a guitar part, vocal melody, bass line, etc.

echegollenechegollen replied

Last question for you! :-) I don't understand how knowing the intervals helps you writing songs...

mattbrownmattbrown replied

I almost exclusively wright songs by ear. I've found that having a guitar, bass, a piano, etc. in front of me usually limits my creativity. I feel like I'm limited by what my hands are used to playing and what I'm used to hearing out of each specific instrument. Instead, I usually come up with ideas in my head and enter them into some sort of notation software program like Finale or Guitar Pro. Then, I just learn how to play / sing what I wrote. That's just me though. Obviously, this would be impossible if you haven't developed your ears. I think the writing process is a little different for everyone though...Keep the questions coming! That's what I'm here for!!! :)

kingpinned89kingpinned89 replied

As you said : some good tricks ..

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Good question...Presently, I transcribe music for a living, so I get plenty of practice in that department. Before though, I used to work on this stuff in the car / on the bus / train...Just listen to anything that has a melody line - instrumental or vocal (oh, and make sure it's something you really like, otherwise this won't be as effective)...After I hear the melody, I sing it in my head and analyze what intervals occur between the notes and the melody...Obviously, at this point, you need some way to check and make sure you're right...So maybe learn the notes to a couple of these melodies on guitar afterwards to see how you did...Also, getting the sound of certain intervals in your head from famous melodies is immensely helpful...like the perfect 4th is in "here comes the bride" and stuff like that...You'll eventually get to the point where you can hear a melody for the first time and be able to notate it with 100% accuracy without having an instrument around...takes practice and time though!

kingpinned89kingpinned89 replied

Hey matt im finding it difficult to hear intervals without my guitar..! Whats the best way to : practice hearing intervals , which scale to use while going through the different intervals and then while answering the quizzes how do u get "good" at hearing the intervals and then writing your answer down Without the guitar.. ?? These are my main questions and if answered i guess i can go around learning with ease ! :)

mickyhickymickyhicky replied

Hi Matt, I found identifying the notes and intervals on Quiz 1 much easier if I used my guitar - is that defeating the purpose? Regarding transcribing, what do you think about tRanscribing software such as that from seventh string?thanks mike

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hey Mike! At first, if you need help from your guitar, that's understandable. You do need to develop the ability to hear what each interval sounds like without help from your guitar or another instrument. For example, if I were able to pick to random notes and sing them, it's important to be able to identify the interval between the notes no matter what it is. You won't get too far with ear training and transcribing without these skills. As far as transcribing programs are concerned, I use The Amazing Slow Downer. It can do everything you'd possibly want it to do. You can install it on mobile devices too, which is a pretty big deal for me since I have to travel a fair amount, and I make roughly half my living transcribing music. I'm not familiar with the program that you mentioned.

bonasabonasa replied

Matt, I want to thank you a lot for this course. I find it well thought of and presented. But the most important thing that I got from these lessons was that I came to realize how little attention I have paid so far to the ear training issue. I have now focused on it and it is bringing good results. Not only my playing is positively affected by it, it is also my listening experience with other people's music - I have now the feeling I hear things with details and nuances that I either did not hear before or ignored them.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Glad to hear it! Keep up the good work! I think most people neglect the ear training aspect of being a musician since it can be kind scary and intimidating at first. I think developing your ear by transcribing songs, singing, etc. along with developing solid rhythm are the two most important things to work on as a musician.

thebraverygirlthebraverygirl replied

Thanks for doing these lessons, the song examples are really helpful. Sometimes when I'm listening to music now I'm able to identify certain intervals without having to try too hard....or things in one song sound like things in another song - I never made those connections before...it almost enriches the music listening experience...

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hooray! That is the goal...Pretty soon you'll be transcribing new songs in your head when you hear them for the first time.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hi! It's not very important to know at this point in the series, but it's something that will be referenced quite a bit later on. I found solfege to be extremely helpful when I first started singing. Singing is probably the single best way to develop your ears. I'll be doing some sight singing type exercises down the line that will use the solfege system. The system is relatively simple. Each of the seven pitches in the major scale are assigned a syllable. 1: do 2: re 3: mi 4: fa 5: sol 6: la 7: ti Then, let's say you flat the pitches in the scale. Here's what each syllable becomes 2: ra 3: me 4: if you flat "fa", you basically get mi. 5: se 6: le 7: te. If you sharp the pitches, you get these syllables: 2: ri 3: mi becomes fa. 4: fi 5: sol becomes le (sounds the same as the b6). 6: La becomes te (#6 sounds the same as b7). 7: If you sharp ti, this pitch becomes do.

echegollenechegollen replied

So would the order of the whole solfege be: DO-RA-RE-RI-ME-MI-FA-FI-SE-SOL--LE-LA-TE-TI

mattbrownmattbrown replied

That's correct...Just remember that "ri" and "me" refer to the same enharmonic pitches (notes that sound the same but can be written 2 different ways). For example in a C tonality, a D# would be "ri," and an Eb would be "me". The same goes for "fi" and "se". An F# in a C tonality would be "fi," and a Gb would be "se".

edwinpengedwinpeng replied

i have no experience with the solfege do-re-mi, is that crucial to this lesson? you talk about it a lot, how important is it for ear training?

Ear Training with Matt Brown

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Matt Brown provides instruction and exercise to facilitate ear training.

Chord Qualities Lesson 1

Chord Qualities

Matt Brown introduces his new series on ear training. He covers basic chord qualities for the first training session.

Length: 39:01 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
Introduction to IntervalsLesson 2

Introduction to Intervals

Matt Brown offers up a lesson on how intervals are notated and their spacial relationships on the neck of the guitar.

Length: 48:58 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Hearing IntervalsLesson 3

Hearing Intervals

In lesson three of his ear training series, Matt Brown explains how to identify melodic intervals by ear.

Length: 52:34 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Harmonic IntervalsLesson 4

Harmonic Intervals

In lesson four, Matt Brown demonstrates listening techniques for identifying harmonically stacked intervals.

Length: 33:46 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
ProgressionsLesson 5


Matt Brown discusses and demonstrates how to identify common chord progressions by ear.

Length: 30:09 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Matt Brown

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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