Ear Training Through Solfege: Lesson 2

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Ear Training Through Solfege - Lesson II.a: Simple Major Melodies

A masterclass by benxiwf

Welcome Back Everyone!

I hope that you have all enjoyed my first Masterclass on ear training. If you missed it and need caught up, check here: [url="http://forum.youngcomposers.com/t23616/ear-training-through-solfege-lesson-i-major-patterns/"]http://forum.youngco...major-patterns/[/url]

This time, I am going to walk you through the process of actually sight singing melodies through six examples. These examples are all in major keys, all use simple meter (3/4 or 4/4) and do not use very difficult leaps. Some of them are melodies created by me for the sake of example while a couple will be familiar. Even if you do know the melody it will be beneficial to sing in solfege to actually identify what is going on in the music. In fact, i suggest that after completing this, you take the time to figure out simple melodies in your head in solfege and experiment with different scale degrees in major keys to discover what you are hearing.

When sight reading any melody, there are a few important first steps to take:

[list=1][*]Establish a key. Figure out what the key is and play the tonic (home pitch) on an instrument. Sing into the key (Do-Mi-Sol-Mi-Do)[*]Examine the melody: What is the time signature? What are the starting and ending pitches. Where are the anchor tones (Do-Mi-Sol)?[*]Identify difficult passages: Is there a hard rhythm? A large leap? Where are you likely to stumble?[/list]

[b]EXAMPLE I[/b]

Let us look at the first example which is found here: [attachment=11278:Major Sight Singing Melodies.pdf]

Let's go through the steps:

[list=1][*]The key is C major. Play a C on your instrument of choice (make sure it is concert C if playing a transposing instrument). Sing into the key (Do-Mi-Sol). Realize that Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do will coincide with the pitches C D E F G A B C.[*]The time signature is 4/4. Starting and ending on C, Do. I notice that all of the measures end on an anchor tone; Sol, Sol, Sol, and Do respectively. This can help to guide you. Measures alternate between beginning on Do and Re. Practice singing Do-Re and Do-Sol to get the sound of these pitches.[*]Examine the leaps: in measure 1, beat 4 there is a leap of a perfect 4th from G down to D in beat 1 of measure 2 (Sol-Re). Practice singing this leap. Measure 2 beat 4 to measure 3 beat 1 features a leap of a perfect fifth from G to C (Sol-Do). Practice singing this interval. From beat 3 of measure 3 to the end, there are only leaps. E-G-D-G-C (Mi-Sol-Re-Sol-Do'). Luckily, these are all anchor tones except the D (Re). Isolate and practice this passage.[/list] Now, check yourself against your instrument and make sure that you have not fallen flat or become sharp in pitch from this practice. Maintain the original key. Now, try to slowly sing through the melody using solfege syllables throughout. If you get stuck, go back and find each pitch. Practice until you can smoothly sing it.[b] Resist the temptation to grab your instrument and play the melody, but use your inner ear.[/b] At first, this may be impossible. But with practice, you will be able to accomplish this.

Once you smooth the melody out, check yourself against the recording [attachment=11272:Example I.mp3]. Make sure you are using the correct syllables-this is VERY IMPORTANT.


While I wanted to challenge you with the first melody and really walk you through the process, I believe that you will find this melody much more accessible if you struggled with the first one. Take note of:

[list=1][*]Key: F major. Play and F, sing into the key. Realize the key in your head (F is now Do, so F G A Bb C D E F becomes Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do).[*]The time is 4/4 again. This time we start on A (Mi), end on F (Do)[*]No leaps are present. The entire range is only a Perfect 4th. You may find this melody to be familiar to you. Since the first melody did not have Fa (in this case Bb), you may want to find Fa in your head (Sing Do-Re-Mi-Fa and then leap from Do to Fa for practice).[/list] Sing through, smooth, and check yourself against the recording: [attachment=11273:Example II.mp3].


[list=1][*]Example III is in D major. (D is now Do, so D E F# G A B C# D now becomes Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do).[*]Time signature is 3/4. Start and end on D (Do)[*]The entire melody is almost all leaps. Luckily, they are almost always some kind of arpeggiation of either a I chord (contains Do-Mi-Sol) or a V chord (contains Sol-Ti-Re), but this is not always true. The largest leap occurs at the end of measure 4 to the first beat of measure 5 of the melody. This leap of an octave is not that difficult, though your voice may need some practice. Try singing Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do' where Do' is high D and then sing Do-Mi-Sol-Do', then Do-Sol-Do', and finally Do-Do'. This should help you to feel and hear the octave interval.[/list] Practice slowly, smooth, increase tempo, and finally check against the recording: [attachment=11274:Example III.mp3]


[list=1][*]Key is: B Major. "OH NO, LOOK AT ALL THOSE SHARPS," you may say. Luckily, we don't have to worry about sharps when we are singing, there are no unusual fingerings. You can almost ignore them if you realize the lack of accidentals means that B C# D# E F# G# A# B now becomes Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do. Since the example uses no alterations, this is really no different than the other examples.[*]4/4 time signature. Begin Do and end on high Do (Do').[*]This has several leaps, though none bigger than a perfect 4th. All of the passages either outline a I or V7 chord OR move by step. A good practice for this one is to arpeggiate I and V chords. So sing something like Do-Mi-Do-Sol-Mi-Do-Sol-Do'-So-Mi-Do-Sol,-Do Where Sol, is low Sol It really doesn't matter the order you sing these in, but practice in several different orders. Do the same thing for the V chord (Sol-Ti-Re-Fa)[/list] Practice slowly, smooth, increase tempo, and finally check against the recording: [attachment=11275:Example IV.mp3]

[b]EXAMPLE V[/b]

[list=1][*]Key is G Major (G A B C D E F# G become Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do)[*]Time is 4/4 Begin on B (Mi) end on G (Do)[*]Motion is all stepwise. You should find this one pretty easy if you have completed the last couple of exercises successfully. You should also be able to recognize the melody quite quickly![/list] Practice slowly, smooth, increase tempo, and finally check against the recording: [attachment=11276:Example V.mp3]


[list=1][*]Key is Ab Major (Ab Bb C D Eb F G Ab becomes Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do)[*]3/4 time signature. Begin and end on Ab (Do)[*]Most of the motion is simple when compared to some of the previous examples and uses similar ideas. However, the motion from measure 3 beat 3 to measure 4 beat 1 is a little unusual and one we have not yet experienced. The melody moves from C (Mi) to F (La). An exercise like singing Mi-Do-Mi-Sol-La-Sol, then Mi-Sol-La_Sol_MI, then Mi-La-Mi will help to find this interval.[/list] Practice slowly, smooth, increase tempo, and finally check against the recording: [attachment=11277:Example VI.mp3]

This concludes lesson 2! I hope you have made it through and feel comfortable doing this. Practice singing ANY melodies in major keys that you can find. I would not encourage you to move on to minor keys or any other modalities until I offer you my recommended strategy. If you struggled with this, DO NOT become frustrated. Master these melodies even if you have to memorize them. Then experiment with either melodies of your own creation or out of a beginner method book or book of folk songs. Make sure they are in major keys and work on mastering them. Experiment singing from one scale degree to another, thinking of ones that you have not yet mastered.

Let me know if there are any problems with the lesson or if there is any way that you feel I can make it more accessible to you!


Part B

Hi All!

I felt that everyone could use a few more melodies. This time we will be using the same skills taught in the first two ear training lessons, but this time we will use compound meters. If anyone is unfamiliar with that language, simple meter refers to time signatures in which the beat is broken in groups of two: 4/4, 2/4, 3,4, 2/2, 4/2, etc. are all examples of this. Compound meter refers to when the beat is broken into threes: 6/8, 9/8, 12/8 are all examples of this.

I have a few examples of these meters to share with you. You will want to start by opening the attached pdf. Start by applying the skills that you have learned in the previous classes and try to perform each melody. If you are struggling, read through my tips for each below. Finally, listen to the recordings to ensure that you have discovered each melody correctly.

[b]Melodies:[/b] [attachment=11400:Major Melodies II.pdf]

[b]Melody 1:[/b]

Key: D Major - Sing into key The rhythm is quite varied so it is a good idea to go through and perform the rhythm vocally before attempting to sing.

The highest note is A-Sol and the lowest is A-Sol. Starts on Sol. There are several chord outlines in this song. Find these spots. (example: measure 1: Sol Mi Do Sol - outlines a I chord) This melody may be familiar to you as it is a famous folk song.

Example: [attachment=11401:Ear Training Major Compound-1.mp3]

[b]Melody 2:[/b]

Key: F Major - Sing into key Notice the three sections of this melody. It begins moving mostly by step and then measure 3 introduces some movement by thirds before introducing the section of all dotted quarters. Measure 6 uses an ostinato which is mirrored a second lower in the 7th measure. The melody ends with an arpeggiated figure. Begins on F-Do. Lowest note is C-Sol, Highest is D-La.

Example: [attachment=11402:Ear Training Major Compound-2.mp3]

[b]Melody 3: [/b]

Key: Eb Major - Sing into key Note the pick-up beat Explore the leaps at the beginning. Sing through any that you are unsure of before singing through. Melody starts on Bb-Sol. Lowest note is Eb-Do, highest is Eb-Do.

Example: [attachment=11403:Ear Training Major Compound-3.mp3]

That's it for this lesson! If you can read through these correctly, great! If not, practice until you can and then try composing your own melodies without using any kind of playback features. Do they sound how you intended? Find melodies in any method books you may have or in a book such as Robert Ottmann's Melodies for sight singing. For now, practice melodies using only the major scale. Upcoming lessons will begin to explore other tonalities.