The Basics of Relative Pitch

Relative Pitch is the ability to be able to listen to music and identify intervals between pitches (and even chords). Having relative pitch is different from ideal pitch.
This is an article on how to listen effectively. There are various ways to harmonize the melody. For example, in the event you determined the one note melody to Jingle Bells, you'd be able to apply elementary chords in a matter of minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What if I don't require to play a chord on every melody tone?
2. How do I figure out the chord progressions that I'm hearing when the melody isn't as evident?
3. What if I require to play chords and not follow the melody?
4. What if I'm accompanying someone who is already playing or singing the melody?
Harmonizing the melody is more common for hymns, basic songs, nursery rhymes and melody-intensive tunes.

1. Ideal Pitch

When it comes to effectively listening to music to learn new songs, there's different ways to do it:
Some folks think you require ideal pitch to play by ear but that isn't true.

2. Relative Pitch

Ideal pitch is the ability to listen to exact tones without the use of a musical gizmo or reference. One out of 10,000 people have the ability to listen to a C tone & say that's a "C" without using the piano.
Now, some people with ideal pitch have a hard time with relative pitch (which is more practical for learning by ear).

Relative pitch does not depend on specific notes. It depends more on intervals & distance between notes.

With relative pitch, you may not know specifically what chords or tones are being played (like "C" or "E") but you know what's going on(e.g. - You know that a song is beginning on a major chord & moving to the minor sixth keynote).

Someone with nice relative pitch would know that a melody line like C to E to G is utilizing the notes of a major chord, but might not know which major chord (because unlike ideal pitch, the exact note is unknown until you sit in front of a piano & determine it.)
In the event you can listen to the changing chords in your head and can quickly transfer this knowledge to the piano (after determining the major key), then you have developed nice relative pitch.
Often times, it is going to the piano and matching up tones that allows you to play a song (literally in seconds because you already know what's going on -- you require a reference a reference point -- a major key.

Let's say you've been studying intervals and by now, you know that a "2-5-1" progression is common at the finish of a song. Now, you're listening to a song & there you listen to it, a "2-5-1". You even know that it's a min9 chord because it sounds jazzy going to some kind of dominant chord (like a 13 chord) and then finally returning home to a pleasant major chord.

Most of "playing by ear" occurs in the mind. If you've gotten to the point where you can pinpoint 2-5-1 & 1-4 progressions in songs, then you're relying on relative pitch. You're doing well.
You may not know specifically that it's a Gbmin9 or an Fmin9 but you know it's a minor9 and it occurs on the second tone of the scale. The 'actual' note will be determined one time you actually figure out what major key the song is in. The major key usually brings everything together at the finish.
The missing factor is the major key the song is being played in. So the same person would go to the piano, hit a few notes & shortly determine that the major key is C Major.

Ask yourself a few questions:

1. What is the 2 of C major?
2. What is the 5 of C major?
3. What is the 1 of C major?

The answers to those questions would provide the keynotes for the chords you already know.
Apply the chords: Dmin9 -- G13 -- Cmaj
So, the keynotes of a 2-5-1 progression in C major would be: D to G to C.

This gets simpler as you play 2-5-1 progressions over and over. They become second nature as any other progression will.

Ideally, if they call out, "play a 2-5-1, your response ought to be, "in what key?" That's what level you require to be at -- where you know all of your chords and progressions in all twelve keys and it literally takes seconds to play any chord progression in the event you know the key to play it in.

I know it's not that elementary but one time you get it, you'll be hearing music in your head and know what's going on before you get to the piano.

If you've been struggling to pick out the chord progressions in your favorite songs, then you'll want to take a look at these music resources.

* The Secrets to Playing Piano by Ear

This theory book is full of easy-to-understand tricks, tips, techniques and secrets to playing piano by ear! Home Study Course Book

* Gospel Keys 101

A great video course will teach you everything you need to know to get started playing basic hymns and congregational songs. You'll learn step-by-step, how to harmonize every single tone of the major scale. Since songs are based on melodies (and melodies are based on major scales), you'll be able to harmonize most songs. GK101

I just wanted to wish all of my musician friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thanks for stopping by. It's always great to hear from you!

Love, LadyD

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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