Ear Training Blog by Bruce Arnold for Muse Eek Publishing Inc. Key Retention

Hearing Songs in One Key Center

The Idea of Hearing Songs in One Key Center

Hearing Songs in One Key Center presents a concept in ear training that can take a good amount of time for a musician to fully hear and comprehend. The sooner you work on it, the better, because when you learn music you are learning it both intellectually and aurally. Getting both of these sides of learning music to think within one key center requires you to leave behind many of the usual ways musicians are taught to think about and hear music. Try some of the exercises below and I think you will shortly be convinced that this is the proper path to hearing music.

How to Start Hearing Songs in One Key Center

First, take some simple Tin Pan Alley tunes like those found in the Practice Perfect Applied Jazz Standard Ear Training and sing the 1, 3, 5, and 7 of each chord.  Do this with and without a MetroDrone.  All the notes you sing will be in the key center of the song. Also, sing the melody all in one key center.  That is usually your first clue that the composer probably heard all or most of the melody in one key.

Remember there was a period (approximately pre1960’s) when most every song had a fairly complex set of changes. Melodies were almost always heard in one key. Those were the Tin Pan Alley songs that we now call jazz standards.  With the advent of rock, folk, modal jazz etc… starting in the 50’s the melodies were still in one key but now you would have one chord vamps and many other types of construction that muddied the situation.

Case in point: I was born in 1955 and didn’t hear a jazz standard till I was about 18 or 19 years old.  I was playing rock and blues but mostly one chord vamp types of songs, so I didn’t develop the ability to hear a song with multiple changes in one key.  First it took learning the contextual ear training which I didn’t get till I was in my 30’s. Then it took 15 years to first realize how I was hearing and then to start working on fixing that issue.  The earlier in your life that you realize that you need to make this change, the better. Then you don’t have to unlearn decades of thinking and hearing the wrong way.

Things to Remember when attempting to Hear Songs

Here are some things to think about.

  • If a song is slow enough you will sometimes modulate on every chord.
  • Switching over so that you hear more and more chords in one key naturally takes time, so be patient.

Hearing Songs in One Key Center Courses

There are actually many more books on Hearing Songs in One Key Center that I’ve created. But rather than get you confused with a long list of books, the two books below are where I would recommend a student start to train their ear to hear a complete song in one key center. Also the recommendation I made earlier about singing chord tones and melodies has to be part of the overall strategy.

If you haven’t worked on it and have time, the Scale Analysis course would help you to see what kind of scales you end up with when you stay in one key.

A Smaller Hearing Songs in One Key Center Course

The Secondary Dominants course is like a super miniature version of Scale Analysis that just concentrates of how you would hear the modes of melodic minor ascending in one key center.

Switching both your ear and your mind to think of all scales of a song in one key is going to take some time as mentioned and you need to realize that until you get to that point your ear will be all over the place as far as what it hears as the key center.  In general follow your ear but work towards hearing more and more within a key center because that actually makes it easier to play, and be more musical.

This idea of hearing II V I’s within a song as parts of the overall key center is something that flies in the face of most improvisation and ear training methods. So the psychological side of learning this method may only get totally on board once it starts to really kick in with your ear.

Bruce Arnold Music Education Genealogy Chart

You might enjoy checking out the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located on my artist’s site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by Muse-eek.com which derives its content from a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!


Bruce-Arnold-Guitar-Flutterby-Modulation Key Center Course Blog Hearing Songs in One Key Center Hearing Songs in One Key Center

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About Muse Eek

Muse-Eek Publishing Company is a publishing house with a broad focus on music education. Muse-Eek also publishes fine art and poetry books, and has its own record label, Muse-Eek Records. Our online presence, Muse-Eek.com specializes in the publication of music workbooks, video courses and sound and video recordings that teach the foundation of good musicianship through groundbreaking and innovative methods along with traditional methods that have been taught for centuries. These historic methods date back through centuries of great musicians and educators. To see these interesting relationship please see Bruce Arnold's Music Education Genealogy Chart which tells you a lot about the where many of his educational ideas took root and some of the educational pillars that are evident throughout the books you find on this website. The Muse-Eek Records catalogue contains a diverse selection of music much of it by Bruce Arnold in collaboration with some of today's best players in classical, jazz, rock and avant-garde music. These are available in CD, DVD and mp3 formats. We believe in a working relationship with our music education customers; they are free to interact with the author after purchasing a book to help them through any material they don’t understand or which they need further clarification. We also have a member's area which contains a wealth of free information to help a student understand music at a deeper level and access additional files for our books. Many of our books offer cutting edge ideas regarding ear training, guitar technique, rhythm and time. These methods have a proven track record. Our main author Bruce Arnold has taught at some of the most prestigious music schools in the world, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, The New School and NYU. Along with Mr. Arnold's publications on the Muse-eek.com website he has also written books and appeared in educational DVDs for MelBay and Truefire. Over the years Mr Arnold has used his experiences with his students to develop a program that can elevate a musician's ability to world class caliber. If you have questions about any of our books or recordings please send us an email. Along with general questions about either our record label or our publishing company we also welcome questions to help a student choose the proper materials to reach their goals. We have over 300 products to help you learn any style of music and to develop your musicianship to its peak. We also make recommendations for practice schedules for students who use our methods to get the most out of their study time. This, along with personal interaction with Bruce through email, nurtures the student's ability through a closely monitored situation, ensuring there is no wasted time or misunderstanding.

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