Playing by Ear - Melodies
We already know a lot of melodies. Just need to train our fingers and hands to get them out.
Published: Jun 25, 2014 Updated: Jun 11, 2019 • Visitors: 2 • Page Views: 1
Playing melodies, licks, riffs, motifs, single note lines by ear is all about getting your ear to recognize intervals and train the fingers to follow your inner ear and play these melodies on demand.
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This training involves the *mind,* *hands* and *ear* connection. Of the three the hands need the most work.
Melodies com from four sources:
ALL four of these can be addressed for training the ear and hands to work together.
There are six (6) essentials scales for contemporary music to master and 17 for someone exploring the jazz repertoire. All melodies will be from one of these scales.
An interval is the distance between two notes. Scale, intervals and sequences are all made up of intervals. The most common intervals that are used for creating melodies are seconds and thirds. However ALL common intervals of every scale need to be explored. This typically means seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths and octaves. These intervals all show up in melodies and improvisation.
Arpeggios are simply the notes of a chord played as single notes.
A sequence is a melodic phrase of any length repeated from each scale degree of a scale.
Checkout the Related Material for this lessons for links to related lessons on Scales, Intervals, Arpeggios and Sequences.
Learning a Melody
When learning a melody to later *play by ear* you first must really know the melody.
To learn any melody, whether a simple melody that stays on one key and scale to a complex jazz standard that modulates through several keys and scale. You need to Learn the melody and one fingering in one key. This is your reference, go back to key and fingering if needed. use the following steps to master this process.
1. The starting melody note relative to the key and scale that the melody cam from. This implies that you can analyze the melody relative to harmony, the chords. This is your reference, go back to key and fingering if needed.
2. Identify the starting melodic interval based on the starting key of the song. And example would be This Old Man starts in the perfect fifth of a major scale and descends a minor third.
3. Identify the intervalic distance, type and direction of the second interval.
4. Further identify a few more of the starting melodic phrase of line to get to full essence of the melody. This is all for reference and training the ear to hear the melody.
All the work comes when trying to play the melody in any key starting on any finger.
Notating the Melody for Reference
You can notate this information using any method you like. However learning and using one of the following two established methods will serve you better in the long run.
Intervalic Method - Identify the first interval with the interval type followed by the scale degree number related to the scale the melody came from. e.g.
- M = Major
- m = Minor
- P = Perfect
- A = Augmented
- D = Diminished
TEST - Simple Melodies
Grab your ukulele and from any Major Scale that you can play. Try the following songs by ear without looking at any music.
This Old Man - Starts on the fifth note of the scale and the first interval is a descending minor third ( P5 down m3 ). In a C Major scale ( C D E F G A B C`) that would be G descending to E.
Brother John - Starts on the root and ascends up to the second ( R up M2 ) and then the third and back to the root, twice. In C major this is C D E C, C D E C'
If you can do this right out of the box - GREAT - Your totally playing by ear. Your fingers know right where the notes are. I personally struggled with this early on and after going through all the above - the scales, intervals, arpeggios, scale and sequences started to have more success a bit more success.
What typically happens is you play wrong notes and know they are wrong notes. Your fingers are more than happy to not follow your inner ear. It just means the hands need a bit more training to get in line and get with the show and follow your ear.
Related Lessons for Playing by Ear - Melodies at this time.
Ear Training is the development of the active and passive capability to relate to music aurally.
Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the ukulele’s construction supports it and a string is available.
The six essential scales are: Blues, Major Pentatonic, Mixolydian, Dorian, Aeolian, and Ionian.
Most players struggle with learning the names of the notes of the ukulele fingerboard.
Playing by ear is the ultimate goal for any musician when playing a musical instrument.
Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant advance in the teaching and application of rhythm.
Congrats, you have finished the Reading Music on Ukulele - The Primer series.
There are a few things in music that students and players avoid.
Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets
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Related Lesson Series
Related Lessons Series for Playing by Ear - Melodies at this time.
An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has a name and a type. Intervals can be played one note (melodic) or two notes (harmonic) at a time, ascending or descending.
Simple and Compound Intervals are taken from a major scale.
Chromatic Intervals are NOT taken from a major scale. They are derived from the diatonic intervals.
This series is all about understanding intervals.
Exploring Improvisation Using Tetrachords
Traditionally, a tetrachord is a series of four tones filling in the interval of a perfect fourth. In modern usage a tetrachord is any four-note segment of a scale or tone row including the augmented fourth (+4). The term tetrachord derives from ancient Greek music theory, it literally means four strings.
A Tetrachord of tetrascale approaches improvisation utilizing this smaller module of four notes vs. a more traditional scale approach. This smaller module becomes a bit more manageable when initially exploring improvisation.
Six Essential Ukulele Scales
The Six Essential Ukulele Scales series is based on the fingering principles from my series of books in the QuickStart Scale and Arpeggio Fingerings series.
The six essential scales are: Blues, Major Pentatonic, Mixolydian, Dorian, Aeolian, and Ionian. These six can get you through a wide variety of traditional and contemporary music.
A scale is simply collection of pitches or notes, not really “this is a Jazz scale”, “this is a Blues” or “this is a Rock scale”. It’s how a scale is used that really matters.
Most music starts with a scale. The melody, chords, licks and riffs all can be related back to a particular scale or scales.
Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard
If there's one thing that has the biggest return on your time and investment to learn it's really, really knowing the names of the note of the ukulele fingerboard. This series takes a step-by-step approach to finally learning the fingerboard.
Reading Music on Ukulele - Primer
There are a few things in music that students and players avoid. These are things like learning to read and knowing the notes of their own instrument. It is hard on guitar - but not so hard on ukulele. With the right guidance and plan of attack. IT IS EASY.
It is really quite easy on a uke. Starting with natural notes in in the open position you can finally check off the Reading Music to do item.
Learning to read standard music notation is really, really easy.
Reading for Ukulele - The Next Steps
Reading can be thought of on many different levels. 1) the ability to slowly and painfully work out the written music. 2) the ability to hear the music by looking at the notation. 3) the ability to notate< your ideas in standard music notation. 4) the ability to read music as you read a book or an article. 5) the ability to communicate with other musicians in the written language of music. 6) the ability to learn songs that you have never heard.
This series of lessons picks up after right after the Reading Music on Ukulele - Primer which focused on reading in the open position. This series is a Pro level series of lessons to get you really reading.
QuickStart Scale and Arpeggio Fingering Series
QuickStart Scale and Arpeggio Fingering Series are a concise, well organized series of books and lessons ideal for any ukulele, guitar or fretted string player beginning to explore scales and arpeggios. Unlike so many other instruction books on the market, QuickStart Scale and Arpeggio Fingering Series keeps a sharp focus on the six critical scales, their fingerings and their related chords. All material is covered in every key.
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