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What's this mysterious scale-related "skill" called?

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What's this mysterious scale-related "skill" called?

Post by agro1986 on Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:38 am

Using the piano, I like to find the melodies of a song I'm already familiar with. Playing by ear, isn't it? (More of guessing by ear for me right now) Of course the first step is to decide what note we want to start at.

Because I don't have (yet?) perfect pitch, I don't bother about finding the first note that is the same with the original song. That's obviously because I can't recall ("hum") the real note to begin with anyway...

So what I do is I press the white keys on the keyboard to "feel" what sounds "right" and "not". "Sounding right" here means that I know in an instant that "If I start from this white key, then the other notes will also use the white keys". In a more technical term, if for example a song is in a major scale and it starts with the tonic note (e.g., twinkle-twinkle little start), I will feel that starting at "A" is "wrong" (it can be played, but we'll use the black keys).

Miraculously, my feeling is most of the time accurate! Sometimes I'm off by 1 step in the circle of fifth. E.g., I felt that the piece will play "nice" (white keys only) if it starts from C but when I continue to play it is evident later on that I'm actually starting with the dominant note of F major and ended up using B flat. At least it's quite close, only 1 black key Smile. I know it must have something to do with scales and whatnots. If "perfect pitch" is a skill name, is there also a name for this skill?

Also, is this skill just something automatic for most people after they've played piano for a certain while? If it is normally not, how do people learn it? How do you get it? Hmm, did I get it just by lots of trial and error when I was small? Please note that I'm not bragging: other than this curiosity (which as I've written above is not always correct), I'm still poor at everything else Smile.

Thanks.

PS: My piano background: I got a piano lesson for less than a month when I was around grade 5. I don't really remember what the teacher taught me on that short time period. After that I stopped getting lessons (don't ask me why, I forgot), and after that it was just messing around with the piano from time to time. Well, until now, in which I decided I should be a little bit more serious.
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Re: What's this mysterious scale-related "skill" called?

Post by Thomandy on Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:05 am

There has been a big discussion about perfect pitch somewhere on the forum...

The fact is that the experts disagree also. But its highly likely that its genetic!!! Smile And that you need to practice and learn pianotheory to get to practice it well on a piano. You CANT know if you got perfect pitch on your own unless you got good pianotheoretical skills and practice memorizing what keys the Hrz(sound) is atatched to... ect Smile
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Re: What's this mysterious scale-related "skill" called?

Post by wamaral on Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:55 am

That's called perception, and it's a very nice skill to have!
I do believe that perception, together with Relative pitch, is much more useful than Perfect pitch. And as a plus, they can be acquired with practicing! You just need to train your ear very very precisely to the sounds.
I do have a quite good relative pitch, and I'm really focused on training my perception. It helps you a LOT!

By the way, it's very common to be "off by a fifth" when you start practicing perception, as you know a fifth is the most "pleasant" and natural interval to hear (a 3:5 ratio in the wavelength, for you who likes math) Laughing
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Re: What's this mysterious scale-related "skill" called?

Post by agro1986 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 7:21 am

Ah, it's perception isn't it.

Anyway, talking about interval identification, I'm still struggling on identifying the (minor and major) 7th, tritone, and anything higher than a perfect octave Smile. I'm trying to practice that more...
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Re: What's this mysterious scale-related "skill" called?

Post by VictorCS on Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:27 am

When I do practice my relative pitch I usually listen to a song, then try to mimick it on the keyboard or guitar.
But there are som limits, right now i'm working on Rambo: First Blood's Home Coming.
And it's quite easy when there arent any other instruments playing than the guitar, but when mixed with other instruments, it's hard to isolate the guitar.

But playing by ear is a great skill, that should be practiced, and because most of us doesnt have perfect
pitch we dont get annoyed by playin it in a wrong key as long the intervals are right.
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Re: What's this mysterious scale-related "skill" called?

Post by pianohama on Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:06 pm

agro1986 wrote:Ah, it's perception isn't it.

Anyway, talking about interval identification, I'm still struggling on identifying the (minor and major) 7th, tritone, and anything higher than a perfect octave Smile. I'm trying to practice that more...

try humming the melody and find the notes on the piano..
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Re: What's this mysterious scale-related "skill" called?

Post by Admin Andrew on Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:20 am

The thing I do (which might sound very strange) is I take an interval and play back and forth between that interval. Many many times very quickly, then I Hum it, then I sing the interval while I say the name of the interval, this links that pitch to the name that it has. So for example play a minor 7th a few times, then hum it and then sing that interval while you say the words minor 7th. It's almost like creating a song that will stick in your mind with the lyrics of the song telling you the right answers. ^_^

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