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!