• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.
sax.co.uk

learning chords

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
Subscriber
Messages
754
Location
Breda, Netherlands
#21
Just out of curiosity, I downloaded the app and had a quick play with it. As a self-test in 'naming that interval' it has it's merits. I think the value of the app is as a learning tool for practicing musicians is rather limited. Not least because (as far as I can tell) there's no sound so the app is a theoretical exercise.

Update: 13/1: I was too quick off the mark with my initial (crossed-out) comment above. After another hour of playing around with app. I'm much more positive about it's value as a learning tool.. I really like the many different 'levels' (39 in this version with more to come) so users can start off with relatively 'easy' questions ( 3rd and 5th intervals for major chords) and gradually progress up to more advanced levels (Maj/min 7th chords) At each level same questions are repeated until the app thinks the user's nailed that level and it's time to move on.. It's great for self-testing how well and how quickly you're able to apply 'knowledge of chords' (at different levels) in answering questions about specific chords and intervals. There's also a 'Free Practice' option where users can set any options they want to be tested on, including different Maj/min chords and intervals and with or without 'accidentals' in the root. I hope a future version will come with sounds.
There's a brief explanation of the intervals used at each level. I think a separate 'tutorial' on the structure of chords would be useful. for most users. But the app is great for developing and expanding the 'mental map' of chords.


-------
I agree with @jbtsax and @Colin the Bear that learning about the the fundamental structure of chords first is a better approach. Any chord consists of notes that have a relationship (in relative intervals) with each other. Each chord also has relationships with other chords (dominant, sub-dominant, relative minor, etc.). There are also a number of common chord progressions in different musical genres. that are worth knowing about. Having generalised 'mental maps' of chord structures, relationships between chords and common chord chord progressions is an enormous benefit! But these 'mental maps' are still general. They're fine for working out (and practicing) a solo beforehand when you know the chord structure. But the 'mental maps' don't immediately translate to 'just the right notes' when you're improvising or jamming. Sure they help, but there's always (at least in my experience) a slight delay in translating the 'mental map' to 'fingers on the right keys in the right order'.

I played guitar for many years and I've dabbled at piano. For me. playing chords on these instruments is (compared to sax) a doddle. The basic chord 'shape' (discounting inversions) stays broadly the same. Both guitarists and pianists make adjustments when shifting the 'shape' up or down. Maybe it's just me (starting out on sax late in life) but playing chords on a sax always seemed more difficult. I have the 'mental chord maps' from playing guitar but for anything with more than 3 sharps or flats I really have to think about it!

So however good your 'mental maps' are, I think it's worthwhile practicing (over and over) translating these 'mental maps' into actual notes in relevant keys/chords/notes that you can play without really thinking about. I can still do this on guitar though I've rarely played in 15 years. Through lack of practice, I still can't do this on sax other than for up to 3 sharps/flats.

When soloing/improvising I often just 'wing it'. It usually goes OK but occasionally it's a disaster! So I've started mapping out the chord changes (on paper). In both cases, I try to mentally 'hear' the melody (or at least the next couple of notes) that I want to play. I sometimes play notes that are out of tune but usually this is because I play notes that just miss the ones I had in my mind.:(.

In any case, I think the ability to mentally 'hear' the interval you want to play and to find this note securely from wherever you are is something to aim for.
Mike
 
Last edited:

Keep Blowing

Member
Commercial Subscriber
Messages
205
Location
Bottesford
#23
Just out of curiosity, I downloaded the app and had a quick play with it. As a self-test in 'naming that interval' it has it's merits. I think the value of the app is as a learning tool for practicing musicians is rather limited. Not least because (as far as I can tell) there's no sound so the app is a theoretical exercise.

I agree with @jbtsax and @Colin the Bear that learning about the the fundamental structure of chords first is a better approach. Any chord consists of notes that have a relationship (in relative intervals) with each other. Each chord also has relationships with other chords (dominant, sub-dominant, relative minor, etc.). There are also a number of common chord progressions in different musical genres. that are worth knowing about. Having generalised 'mental maps' of chord structures, relationships between chords and common chord chord progressions is an enormous benefit! But these 'mental maps' are still general. They're fine for working out (and practicing) a solo beforehand when you know the chord structure. But the 'mental maps' don't immediately translate to 'just the right notes' when you're improvising or jamming. Sure they help, but there's always (at least in my experience) a slight delay in translating the 'mental map' to 'fingers on the right keys in the right order'.

I played guitar for many years and I've dabbled at piano. For me. playing chords on these instruments is (compared to sax) a doddle. The basic chord 'shape' (discounting inversions) stays broadly the same. Both guitarists and pianists make adjustments when shifting the 'shape' up or down. Maybe it's just me (starting out on sax late in life) but playing chords on a sax always seemed more difficult. I have the 'mental chord maps' from playing guitar but for anything with more than 3 sharps or flats I really have to think about it!

So however good your 'mental maps' are, I think it's worthwhile practicing (over and over) translating these 'mental maps' into actual notes in relevant keys/chords/notes that you can play without really thinking about. I can still do this on guitar though I've rarely played in 15 years. Through lack of practice, I still can't do this on sax other than for up to 3 sharps/flats.

When soloing/improvising I often just 'wing it'. It usually goes OK but occasionally it's a disaster! So I've started mapping out the chord changes (on paper). In both cases, I try to mentally 'hear' the melody (or at least the next couple of notes) that I want to play. I sometimes play notes that are out of tune but usually this is because I play notes that just miss the ones I had in my mind.:(.

In any case, I think the ability to mentally 'hear' the interval you want to play and to find this note securely from wherever you are is something to aim for.
Mike
The app is a game and it's good fun, I have been using it for a week when I have 5 mins and it has already been a help. I can practice any where at any time.
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
Subscriber
Messages
5,717
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#24
Just out of curiosity, I downloaded the app and had a quick play with it. As a self-test in 'naming that interval' it has it's merits. I think the value of the app is as a learning tool for practicing musicians is rather limited. Not least because (as far as I can tell) there's no sound so the app is a theoretical exercise.

I agree with @jbtsax and @Colin the Bear that learning about the the fundamental structure of chords first is a better approach. Any chord consists of notes that have a relationship (in relative intervals) with each other. Each chord also has relationships with other chords (dominant, sub-dominant, relative minor, etc.). There are also a number of common chord progressions in different musical genres. that are worth knowing about. Having generalised 'mental maps' of chord structures, relationships between chords and common chord chord progressions is an enormous benefit! But these 'mental maps' are still general. They're fine for working out (and practicing) a solo beforehand when you know the chord structure. But the 'mental maps' don't immediately translate to 'just the right notes' when you're improvising or jamming. Sure they help, but there's always (at least in my experience) a slight delay in translating the 'mental map' to 'fingers on the right keys in the right order'.
Mike, your point is well taken. This gives me the opportunity to bring up Pete's least favorite topic---knowing which scales (or scale tones) go to the changes you are sight reading.

For example: Dm7 - G7 - C suggests the notes of the C scale, C7 suggests notes of the F scale and so on. G7b9 suggests an "altered" or diminished whole tone scale. I am not suggesting knowing scales replaces or is better than knowing chord spellings, but it is one more "tool" in the kit the improviser can use.
 
Messages
185
#25
No you don't,
[…know what any chord is by its name…]
or at least I don't. Doesn't matter what it is, I have to work it out every time. […] people using chords need them at their fingertips. Not after a couple of minutes thinking.
This can’t be right, I’m agreeing with @Colin the Bear - (normally he glosses over the 40 years’ practice needed to achieve x or y). But I started to practice chords a few months ago, and it’s straightforward enough to get the vibe/colour of different types of chord (I don’t have perfect pitch). Have I misunderstood you, Kev?
 

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
Subscriber
Messages
754
Location
Breda, Netherlands
#26
@Keep Blowing: Yes, I agree. I was much too quick off the mark with my initial comment about it having 'limited value'. I've used the app for another hour and I'm much more positive about it. as a (fun) learning tool. I've revised my initial post. I'll keep using it too.

Mike
The app is a game and it's good fun, I have been using it for a week when I have 5 mins and it has already been a help. I can practice any where at any time.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Cafe Moderator
Messages
20,554
Location
Just north of Munich
#27
Have I misunderstood you, Kev?
Yes. I know what a chord is. I know triads, major, minor. But ask me the notes of, say, F major triad and I have to work it out. No different to multiplication tables at school. I was never able to memorise them, always had to work out from a number I knew. But I could do that as fast as others could remember the answers. I have a similar problem with names, languages. Anything that requires learning a pile of facts.
 

Caz

Member
Messages
110
#29
Yes. I know what a chord is. I know triads, major, minor. But ask me the notes of, say, F major triad and I have to work it out. No different to multiplication tables at school. I was never able to memorise them, always had to work out from a number I knew. But I could do that as fast as others could remember the answers. I have a similar problem with names, languages. Anything that requires learning a pile of facts.
For me learning the circle has been quite long and hard. I always thought of way how not to do it. But i finally caved in and began learning it. Like you i have always loathed trying to learn anything where i had to learn facts. I was an adult before i finally learned the multiplication tables*. If i had to learn anything i had to drill it over and over again before it stuck, and even then i would forget if i didn't continually practiced it. But if music has tought me anything, its the fact that anything can be learned, it just takes different paces with different people.
It took me at least 3 months learning the twelve major and minor scales. I practiced them every day on my horn and while going to work. Also trying to write them down seemed to help me.
I promise you (unless you have a medical condition, which i dont think you have) that this is something you can learn if you commit to it.


*funny story actually, my son is 9 years old and have to learn the multiplication tables, so we set the goal of learning the tables at 95bpm by using a metronome. we would start out at 40bpm and work our way up from there - that way we both trained rythm and the tables themselfe. Think there could be some really intresting excercises connected to that. 3/4 vs 5/8's anybody??
 
Last edited:

brianr

Senior Member
Messages
852
#30
. Think there could be some really intresting excercises connected to that. 3/4 vs 5/8's anybody??

A few possibilities for speaking tables out loud in time.

single figures could be quavers in 3/4 .ie
first beat : five ....times
second beat six....is
third beat ..... thir...ty

actually, possibly better in 4/4 with a beat rest to keep it from getting manic ( and to breathe) :)

double figures could be in 9/8 ie
first beat; thir.... teen...times
second beat: seven... teen....is
third beat : two......hundred... twentyoneo_O

Ok, a bit of artistic licence on the "twenty one", but if you can do that stuff in your head, im sure you can squeeze two syllables into one third of a beat.:confused:
besides working on triplets at mm 30 will do wonders for your time feel.

I think we are on to something here, Caz. shall I submit a patent.
 
Last edited:

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
20,499
Location
Cheshire UK
#31
I've just been playing with this app, I'm sure it will commit the intervals to memory. It would be great if you could play them and have that scored....

Jx
 

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
Subscriber
Messages
754
Location
Breda, Netherlands
#32
Great idea, Jeanette! Maybe the Music School:Interval & chords – Android Apps on Google Play supplier (gamyagames@gmail.com) would be interested in it. There are plenty of 'tuning apps' around that translate sounds via a mobile phone mic into 'notes'. Combining these two technologies could mean that the 'Interval & chords' app could offer an option for playing intervals and chords via a mic rather than only clicking on 'notes'. I have no idea whether this would be interesting from the 'business' perspective. But it's likely that something like this will come along sooner or later. I recommend patenting your idea and earning a lot of money by selling licences to implement it. You are of course always free to donate some of these earnings to your favourite charities.

I've just been playing with this app, I'm sure it will commit the intervals to memory. It would be great if you could play them and have that scored....

Jx
 

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
Subscriber
Messages
754
Location
Breda, Netherlands
#33
Having spent more time using this app, I'm much more positive about it than initially (see my revised post). It's well-designed and it really does help people memorise key notes for each chord. I really like the way in which users can step through (currently 39) levels or choose what they want to practice; It's a valuable and fun way of developing and expanding 'mental maps' of chords and intervals. And as @Keep Blowing rightly points out you can use it anywhere, anytime.

Developing and expanding 'mental maps' of chords and intervals is huge advantage for all learners (including myself)! Ideally this goes hand-in-hand with practicing these chords/intervals on the sax. When it comes to performing the more you can play from 'muscle memory' (automatically, without thinking, developed through practice), the better.
 
Last edited:
Messages
185
#34
Yes. I know what a chord is. I know triads, major, minor. But ask me the notes of, say, F major triad and I have to work it out.
Turns out, I may have misunderstood myself :) There is a working out process in naming the notes of a chord, but to play them I have trained myself like a dog: “Go fetch a minor 7 starting on F# Fido!” And I let my fingers gallop off in pursuit of the sound of minor7, without troubling myself about the note names in the moment.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
10,580
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
#35
(normally he glosses over the 40 years’ practice needed to achieve x or y).
:thumbs:

Maybe not 40 years but practice does make perfect. I don't like dots. I can make sense of them but don't sight read. Playing in jazz bands where the only written information you get, if any, is a rhythm section chord book, you have to pick it up if you want to play. In a very short time I could read a concert chord sheet for an Eb instrument and sub the bass from his chord book, on baritone, while he came to the mic to sing. I payed in a duo for a while and although I didn't play banjo at the time, I could tell the banjo players where to put his fingers (No rude comments please) if he was stuck for a chord

If I can't hear a chord, and some of them old songs change key twice in the middle eight, a glance at what the piano or guitar or banjo is playing on somebody else's solo or while the singer sings, helps.

I was one of them kids at school that struggled with times tables and the long list of rods, poles and chains etc. in the old systems. Couldn't remember them. Always the last to progress. Also, I didn't sing for ages because I couldn't remember the words. However, when I needed to sing, and found songs I liked and wanted to sing, I had no problem remembering the words. The more I learn, the easier it seems to become to remember the lyrics.

My point being that we can do what we want to do, or need to do, because we keep at it.

The brain is a fantastic instrument, always with you, more flexible than any pocket devices I know of. Tell it what you want it to do and it will adapt and comply.

Knowing your way around harmony instruments, strings or keys helps hear and visualise harmony, even if you don't play. Playing with an app on your phone will teach you how to play with an app on your phone imo.
 
Last edited:

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
Subscriber
Messages
754
Location
Breda, Netherlands
#36
I agree with you, Colin, especially with your point about when you really want to learn something and really like what/how you're learning, your brain suddenly become more curious, adaptable and compliant in learning (and remembering).

Your comment about struggling to memorise tables and the 'old system measurements' at school jogged my distant memories of primary school 'arithmetic' lessons that I'd long forgotten. Like you, I probably spent hours trying to memorise the UK's 'imperial' measurement' system of gills, pints, gallons, pecks, bushels, ounces, lbs, stones, hundredweights, tons, chains, links, rods, furlongs, perches, roods, acres, etc. (I had to look these up on Wikipedia!). I didn't struggle quite as much as you did but in my generation the whole exercise turned out to be a waste of time when 'metrication' came along. I've lived in NL for 40 years so I don't even get the benefit of the remnants of the 'imperial system' (like pints, ounces, lbs, stones and gallons).

I read that the UK plans to re-introduce its traditional 'Blue Passport' post-Brexit. I wonder whether it will re-instate some of its 'imperial measurements' (replaced on accession to the EU) too ;)


...I was one of them kids at school that struggled with times tables and the long list of rods, poles and chains etc. in the old systems. ...
.
 

Keep Blowing

Member
Commercial Subscriber
Messages
205
Location
Bottesford
#38
The app is a game and it's good fun, I have been using it for a week when I have 5 mins and it has already been a help. I can practice any where at any time.
I have got to the end of the exercises on this app,. I can now recall all the chords on the app a lot quicker than I could before I started using it. The only problem is it doesn't have enough chords on it, I believe they will be adding more in the future. Does anyone know of a book that has every chord/arpeggio and every scale in every key?
 

brianr

Senior Member
Messages
852
#39
Does anyone know of a book that has every chord/arpeggio and every scale in every key?

If you are looking to do this stuff, I assume you want to be an improviser.

in which case, to be blunt......... do not read this stuff out of a book/ app/, on line/ etc etc

it would be much to your benefit to work this out in your own mind and undestand it theoretically.

it will seem slower initially, but it is the way to learn it properly.

but a word of warning. DONT try to learn everything at the same time. It will do your head head, you way only half learn everything, and the little you do learn will be next to useless when improvising.

Here are the 5 chord types you need to learn.
CEGB : c maj7
CEGBb : c7
CEbGBb : c min7
CEbGbBb : c min7 flat 5
CEbGbBbb : ( last note is A.) This gives a diminished 7 chord

Note, one note being flattened everytime as you move through the chord types..

play each chord type in all 4 inversions. eg: cegb, egbc, gbce,bceg up and then back down

Work this out in all keys, but only after TOTALLY nailing it in one key. doing this will enable you to transfer it to other keys..

If you go for this, forget scales for the moment. there is enough work in this.

dont overload !!

good luck
 

Keep Blowing

Member
Commercial Subscriber
Messages
205
Location
Bottesford
#40
If you are looking to do this stuff, I assume you want to be an improviser.

in which case, to be blunt......... do not read this stuff out of a book/ app/, on line/ etc etc

it would be much to your benefit to work this out in your own mind and undestand it theoretically.

it will seem slower initially, but it is the way to learn it properly.

but a word of warning. DONT try to learn everything at the same time. It will do your head head, you way only half learn everything, and the little you do learn will be next to useless when improvising.

Here are the 5 chord types you need to learn.
CEGB : c maj7
CEGBb : c7
CEbGBb : c min7
CEbGbBb : c min7 flat 5
CEbGbBbb : ( last note is A.) This gives a diminished 7 chord

Note, one note being flattened everytime as you move through the chord types..

play each chord type in all 4 inversions. eg: cegb, egbc, gbce,bceg up and then back down

Work this out in all keys, but only after TOTALLY nailing it in one key. doing this will enable you to transfer it to other keys..

If you go for this, forget scales for the moment. there is enough work in this.

dont overload !!

good luck
Thanks very much for that, I am wanting to improvise,. I have been looking at various songs and realised I don't know many of the chords. I not very methodical and jump from one thing to another,. I will take your advice on board and try and knuckle down