The ability to recognise chords by ear is one that so many musicians desire. Even if you play an instrument that can’t play chords, the ability to recognise the chords other musicians play can give you incredible benefits. And if you do play an instrument that plays chords – such as the piano or guitar – then the benefits are even bigger: you can play chords by ear!

Fortunately, when you train your ears using a tonal approach, learning to recognise chords is simple.

The way that a chord sounds is determined by two things:

  1. The scale degree of the root note
  2. The quality of the chord (Major, minor, dominant 7th etc)

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a major chord built on the tonic, or a b9#11 chord built on the b2nd scale degree – the scale degree of the root note and the quality of the chord tell us what that chord is.

So how can you recognise the chords you hear?

There are 3 steps to recognising any chord:

  1. Identify which note is the root note of the chord
  2. Recognise the scale degree of the root note
  3. Identify the quality of the chord

If you’ve been trying to improve your ability to recognise chords with limited success, there’s a problem with one (or more) of these steps. The secret to busting through the blockade is to target each step individually.

I’ve designed exercises that do exactly that. In 80/20 Ear Training you’ll find exercises that focus on identifying the root note, exercises that focus on recognising chord qualities and of course exercises that focus on identifying the scale degree of the notes you hear. You’ll also find exercises that put everything together and get you recognising complete chords.

If you’d like to find out how these exercises work, you’ll find explanations of all of them in my ebook: The Roadmap to Relative Pitch.

If however, you’re ready to get started, why not just get straight to it and sign up for 80/20 Ear Training today.

CONTINUE TO: 80/20 Ear Training


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