Play Music by Ear - A New Guide for Music Lovers


In trying playing music by ear, to play any piece, the primary step is to learn where the tonic, the fundamental keynote, is. Sing the piece or believe it through till you discover the note that has that strong, fixed sensation which determines it as tonic. Some discover this extremely simple to do; others discover it practically difficult.

If required, sing the piece to the very end, and you will there discover the tonic. Listen especially to that tone every time it takes place in the piece; accent it; make it stand out; and you will quickly establish level of sensitivity for that tonic. At the very same time you will be establishing your satisfaction of playing music by ear.

Having actually identified exactly what tone of the scale the piece starts on, you can pick the type in which you want to play it then discover the very first note of the piece because secret.

Another observation will assist you: Notice where the dominant, the 5th note of the scale, is. Given that a lot of the tune focuses on the dominant, it is valuable to have that pivot point knowingly situated in the secret and on the keyboard.

As an example of this treatment in playing music by ear, let us take the chorus of Old Black Joe. Sing it through and you discover the last note resting strongly on the tonic. Now start the chorus once again and you will hear that it starts on 5. Let us choose to play it in the secret of Eb. Play the scale of Eb and you will observe that 5 is Bb. We start on Bb.

Keeping in mind that Eb is the strong tonic tone which Bb is the figured out dominant tone, you will now have the ability to exercise the tune. Follow this very same procedure with other tunes and you will quickly discover that you can find the tonic and dominant and very first note practically without an idea.

Now play any basic music by ear that you have actually currently discovered however play them in various secrets. Consider the tune and let the fingers look after themselves. Establish a flexibility that will allow you to enjoy exactly what you are playing.

Attempt other pieces that you have actually wished to play. As soon as you have actually practiced the scales and learnt how to recognize tonic and dominant, you will have the ability to play numerous things which were difficult to you before.


Pieces do not constantly remain in one secret. They hardly ever do. When they go from one secret to another, we call it regulating. The majority of your problems in the pieces which you have actually been not able to finish have actually been triggered by modulations. The tonic and dominant are always altered when a modulation occurs. Naturally this is puzzling; however you can assist the circumstance considerably by understanding exactly what the modulation is - by understanding exactly what the tonic and dominant remain in the brand-new secret.

There is no simple guideline for doing this while playing music by ear; one ultimately learns how to feel a modulation simply as he feels the next note of a piece. This takes time. Without this power one needs to either stop or determine the brand-new secret by singing the passage up until he can find the tonic, or simply guess. The most regular modulation, especially in the kind of pieces we are utilizing, is to the dominant. Attempt the dominant.


The Star-Spangled Banner is a fine example. When you get to "flag was still there," you have actually regulated to the dominant secret. On the word "still" you need to use a note which is not in your initial secret. This is your modulating tone, and if you pay attention to it acutely, you can discover the strong upward thrust which defines a modulation to the dominant. It does not stay in the dominant secret, nevertheless, however leaps instantly back to the initial secret with the words "Oh, state, does that.”

This is called a half-modulation because it does not remain in the brand-new crucial enough time to develop it securely; however it is a tidy illustration of the point.