EarTest 1.0 by Brent Hugh
What EarTest is All About
Can Perfect Pitch Be Learned?
About the Author
Typical EarTest Exercises
The Main EarTest Exercise
Long Term Perfect Pitch Exercise Plan
A Second Exercise—Chords
A Different Order
If You Don't Believe in Perfect Pitch . . .
A Few Sample Ways to Practice with EarTest
Fast and Furious
Classic Burge Perfect Pitch Exercise
Ear Training 101
Ear Training 102
Ear Training 201
Ear Training 301
Ear Training 099
EarTest Menus and Options
Controls and Options on the Main EarTest Window
New Note Button
Play Again Button
Test Mode Button
Note and Octave Selection
Midi Output Device Selection Box
Midi Input Device Selection Box
Wrong Note Length
Wrong Note Reps
"Note" or "Chord" Radio Buttons
Midi Note for "Replay Note"
Sound to Play on Wrong Answer and Sound to Play on Right Answer
More About Test Mode
A Few Miscellaneous Notes
General Midi Percussion Map
General MIDI Instrument Patch Map
+#K$What EarTest is All About
What EarTest is All About
EarTest is a computerized ear-training program. It is designed to put into effect two of the most basic ear training exercises suggested by David L. Burge in his course for acquiring perfect pitch (sometimes known as absolute pitch).
Burge teaches the each note of the scale has a certain "pitch color". By learning the notes one by one, beginning with only two notes, C and D, and adding them one by one (E, F, G, A, B, etc.), the student can learn to distinguish the pitch colors of the various notes.
EarTest is very flexible, so it can do Burge’s exercises, but also a lot more. EarTest can test you on any group of notes in any octave(s), with any sound your midi instrument (or midi-capable soundcard) can produce. EarTest can select notes in a totally random way (which Burge suggests for his exercises) or it can be set to move melodically, with the same proportion of large and small intervals as typical musical melodies. The selection of notes can be weighted, so that you can, for instance, concentrate your practice on a few particularly difficult notes (which is very helpful if you are practicing Burge-style perfect pitch exercises) or make melodies that have the right distribution of notes for F major or C# minor.
You can respond instantly to the question notes, by either clicking your mouse on the correct answer, or responding with a midi keyboard. EarTest can gives you instantaneous visual (and, optionally, aural) feedback that tells you whether you have responded correctly. This immediate reinforcement of both right and wrong answers is very powerful in helping you build your musical reflexes.
EarTest has powerful statistical features that tell you how well you are learning each note and can help you pinpoint which notes you are getting confused with which.
All these features make EarTest useful not just for practicing Burge’s perfect pitch exercises, but also for practicing the sort of ear training exercises that are helpful for all musicians who wish to improve their relative pitch ability. EarTest can be used like a melodic dictation program, with the advantage that you can respond immediately with a midi keyboard (which is very comfortable for most musicians) and you get immediate feedback on your answer. The combination of these two factors leads to a very fast improvement of a musician’s aural skills. Although EarTest doesn’t take the place of a real melodic dictation program, it will very quickly increase your skill at the most difficult and vital aspect of melodic dictation: hearing the relationship between the various notes of the scale. You will soon learn to distinguish do from re, la from ti and fi from fa, and once you have developed that skill, understanding any tonal melody becomes much easier.
EarTest was written because I looked all over to find a program that trains your ear in just this way, and didn't find anything. Ear training is fundamental to the education of every music student. As musicians begin to make more use of computers, EarTest and another similar programs will be used in every music studio by every music student. Computers can make it easy and fun to do the repetitive drill necessary to develop a good ear.
Pitch Color is David L. Burge’s term for the subtle difference in sound quality between the different notes. It is Burge’s way of explaining how people with perfect pitch can immediately tell what note is playing, without the need to relate it to any other notes.
People with perfect pitch can do this because to them, each different note (or "pitch") has its own unique sound. An F just sounds different than an A, and both of those sound different from an Eb. It is not because one note sounds higher or lower than the other, it is because each pitch creates a distinct reaction in the ear of the listener. This "distinct reaction in the ear" or "unique sound" of each pitch is what Burge calls Pitch Color.
"Pitch Color" is not color per se—you don’t try to see yellow, red, or blue while listening to C, F# ,or Db. It is just that the difference in the sound of the different notes is a small, subtle, difference that is difficult to explain to those who don’t experience it, just as the differences between colors are difficult to explain but certainly real. Other possible analogies with these differences in the sound of different pitches are different smells, the feel of different fabrics, or the taste of subtly different foods. All are undeniably real, but difficult to explain. In the same way, different notes sound darker, brighter, more piercing, have more of a buzz, have a hollow sound, etc. etc. etc. It is all quite hard to explain but quite obvious once you hear it. To experience it yourself, go to a real, live, in-tune instrument (preferably your own primary instrument) and listen carefully—comparing the sounds of—F# and Eb. Play the sounds towards the middle of the instrument’s range (or in your own vocal range, if comfortable). If you listen deeply to the two sounds, you will hear that F# has a more vibrant, lively, buzzy sort of sound, while Eb has a deeper, flatter, richer sort of sound. The difference between these two sounds is difference in the pitch "color" between these two notes.
The difference in Pitch Color really is related to the pitch of the note—if you take an F#--which most people describe as having the buzzy, piercing sort of pitch color--record it, and slow the playback so that the actual pitch being played is an Eb, the playback will not have the sharp buzzing sound of F# any more, but will have the softer, fuller, richer sound of Eb.
In this way, every note has a unique "pitch color", distinct from the pitch color of all other notes. The pitch color of a single note over several octaves (for instance, the pitch color of the 8 different Cs on the piano keyboard) remains essentially the same, but takes on different "shades" in the different octaves (to extend the "color" analogy).
Since every different note has a different "pitch color", as soon as you hear a note, if you hear the pitch color you can identify the note and distinguish it from all other notes.
If you talk to people with perfect pitch, you will discover that they do think that every note has a different sound. They may not call these different sounds "pitch color" (in fact, they probably don’t call it that) but if you can get them to describe the sensations they feel when hearing the different notes, you will find that they correlate remarkably well with the idea of "pitch color".
Learning to have perfect pitch is a process of first learning to hear that there is "pitch color" and then, through experience, learning to associate a note’s pitch color with its name and to differentiate it from the "pitch color" of all other notes.
Just as with learning any other skill, it may take a good deal of practice over a period of time to develop this kind of recognition and discrimination. Just as with any other learning process, it is helpful to start with the known and relate it to the unknown (that it why it is very helpful to start practice with the familiar notes of the C major scale; you start with these familiar major scale relationships and try to relate the note's position in the scale to its "pitch color").
And there is no question that you recognize more easily the notes you practice or play more often. Researcher David Huron has done a fascinating study relating recognition of notes by possessors of perfect pitch to the frequency of the notes’ occurrence in common-practice era music. In general, studies of perfect pitch possessors have shown that black notes are identified less readily than white notes. Certain of the black notes are identified less readily than other black notes. Huron, in a massive computerized study of hundreds of common-practice era pieces, shows that white notes do occur in this music more often than black notes (no big surprise there!) and also that the more and less commonly occuring black notes in music correspond exactly with the black notes more and less easily recognized by perfect pitch possessors. In short, perfect pitch possessors recognize best the notes they hear the most.
The corollary of this, is that you, too, will learn best the notes you practice most. If you have difficulty recognizing some notes, you can improve your fluency with them by practicing them more frequently. In EarTest, this is easy to do by changing the weights of the notes you practice.
+#K$Can Perfect Pitch Be Learned?
Can Perfect Pitch Be Learned?
Whether perfect pitch can be learned or taught is a controversial subject. Many musicians (Hindemith, for instance) believe that it can be taught; others hold just as firmly to the opinion that it cannot. My own opinion is that it is not true that perfect pitch ability is a binary sort of thing (i.e., either you have it or you don't). Rather, "perfect pitch" is a continuum of abilities, ranging from tone deaf Uncle Clyde, who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, all the way to the incredible aural ability of a Mozart.
Those of us in the middle of the ear training ability continuum may never develop abilities the equal of Mozart. But we might edge away from Uncle Clyde a little bit, and maybe even quite a little bit.
I myself have not developed perfect pitch using the Burge method. But my ear has improved significantly and I feel that the Burge exercises are responsible for much of this improvement.
The main flaw in the Burge method is that it requires daily sessions with an ear training partner. This can be very difficult to arrange, especially over the long haul it takes to develop your ear to its fullest potential.
EarTest neatly overcomes this flaw in the Burge method. EarTest is your indefatigable ear training partner!
+#K$About the Author
About the Author
EarTest is written by Brent Hugh, professor of music at Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, Missouri. Brent is a pianist, teacher, and composer. He was the first classical pianist to release a complete CD on MP3.com (you can listen in at www.mp3.com/brent_d_hugh).
You can email Brent: brent @ brenthugh.com
+#K$Controls and Options on the Main EarTest Window
Controls and Options on the Main EarTest Window
#K$New Note ButtonNew Note Button
"New Note" picks a new note and plays it for you. If EarTest doesn’t seem to be doing anything, press this button to get things started.
#K$Play Again ButtonPlay Again Button
"Play Again" plays the most recent note again. If you have most recently missed a note and EarTest played a series of notes comparing the right answer and your incorrect answer, "Play Again" will repeat this series of notes again. This is very useful if you aren’t quite sure about the difference in pitch color between the two notes, and want to hear the comparison again.
#K$Test Mode ButtonTest Mode Button
"Test Mode" causes EarTest to enter (surprise!) Test Mode. You will be given a series of questions (you can choose how many). In Test Mode, EarTest doesn’t give you any feedback at all, so you don’t know whether you are giving the right answers or not. This is a good way to test your progress under EarTest. Are you developing perfect pitch, or not?
At the end of the Test Mode, EarTest displays a screen of statistics and also lists all the test questions and your answers.
More about Test Mode . . .
#K$Note ButtonsNote Buttons
You can click on the Note Buttons, arranged like a piano keyboard, to give your answers. You can also respond to the questions using a midi keyboard connected to your computer.
After an incorrect answer, when EarTest plays a comparison of the correct and incorrect notes for you, EarTest pauses. At this point, you can press any of the note buttons (or a key on your midi keyboard) to get things started again.
#K$Note and Octave SelectionNote and Octave Selection
Note Checkboxes and Octave Checkboxes determine the particular notes and octaves you will practice.
Octaves are numbered (rather arbitrarily—no one seems able to agree on a consistent system of numbering octaves) from 1 to 9. Each octaves goes from C up to the next highest B. Octave 5 includes middle C. The lowest 3 notes of the piano keyboard are in octave 1, and the highest C on the piano is in octave 9.
#K$Note WeightingNote Weighting
The numbers entered in the Note Weighting boxes determine how often that particular note will be selected. A note with a higher number will be selected more often. Note Weights can range from 0 to 99.
If all Note Weights are set to 10, except for the Note Weight for C, which is set to 20, then C will be selected twice as often as any of the other notes.
If all Note Weights are set to 10, except C, which is set to 5, then C will be selected half as often as any of the other notes.
You can use note weighting to concentrate your practice on certain troublesome notes. Or you can use it to make certain troublesome notes occur less frequently, which might reduce your frustration level (you won’t progress well if you are frustrated).
The Weights Menu at the top of the main EarTest window has several quick ways to set the Note Weights, including setting them automatically to emphasize notes you often miss.
#K$Midi Output Device Selection BoxMidi Output Device Selection Box
This box lists all Midi Out devices installed on your Windows system. You can select the device to use, or select "No Midi Output" (although EarTest won’t be good for much in that case).
EarTest doesn’t install or detect any of its own midi devices, midi cards or soundcards. It simply lists and uses the devices that are installed under Windows. If no midi devices are installed under Windows, then EarTest will not be able to play anything.
If you have problems with midi output, see the Midi Troubleshooter.
#K$Midi Input Device Selection BoxMidi Input Device Selection Box
This box lists all Midi Input devices installed on your Windows system. You can select the device to use, or select "No Midi Input".
In general, if you can use midi input in other Windows programs (sequencers, music notation programs), midi input should work in EarTest, too.
To help with midi input troubleshooting, you can open the menu "Midi/Show Midi In Values". If your midi input device is operating correctly, you will see values appear for each note you press or release. If you see no movement or change in this window when you press keys on your midi keyboard, then the midi input devices is not operating correctly, not connected properly, or not selected.
If you have problems with midi input, see the Midi Troubleshooter.
The Patch selects the midi patch EarTest will use. The "patch" determines the sound (or "voice" or "instrument", if you prefer) the midi device will use to play the notes. Patches can range from 0-127, but the number of usable patches depends on your midi instrument. It is common for some of the patches to be silent. Usually patch 0 is a grand piano.
Note that some midi devices number their patches from 1-128. Since EarTest numbers patches from 0-127, the patch numbers you enter in EarTest will be offset by 1 from the numbers your midi device displays.
The midi channel can range from 1-16. In normal circumstances, you can set it to channel 1.
Note that many Midi devices can operate in different "modes". Depending on the mode, all channels may be kept separate, or all may be funneled together. If your midi keyboard behaves in an unusual way, you might check the mode it is operating in. These might be labeled as "Remote", "Multi", "Omni", ‘Poly", or "Mode 1", "Mode 2", etc.
Velocity determines how hard the midi note is struck (higher numbers = a hard strike = loud). On high quality midi devices, the tone quality may change subtly with velocity (a soft note on a real piano has a different tone quality than a loud note, quite aside from the fact that is is louder or softer). You may need to experiment here, as these subtle differences in tone quality can influence your ability to hear the subtle differences in "pitch color". A softly struck note, amplified to a loud volume, may have just enough of a strange tone quality to slow your learning of perfect pitch.
Velocity may affect some patches differently than others, and some not at all (it depends on the exact capabilities of your midi output device).
The volume is like turning the volume knob on your midi device. 0=softest, 127=loudest.
#K$Note LengthNote Length
Note length determines the length of the note EarTest plays, in milliseconds. For a fast-moving game, set Note Length to 200 or 500. To really spend some time listening to the pitch color of the notes, set Note Length to 3000 or 4000.
As long as the note is playing, you cannot give an answer. With long Note Lengths and some patches (and especially with high notes, which tend to be short-lived) the sound may completely die away before long before EarTest releases the note. Still, you cannot give an answer until EarTest releases the note.
#K$Wrong Note LengthWrong Note Length
The length of the notes played when you give an incorrect answer, in milliseconds.
#K$Wrong Note RepsWrong Note Reps
The number of notes played when you give an incorrect answer. The correct answer and your incorrect answer alternate so that you can compare the pitch color of the two notes. If you don’t want to compare the two notes at all, you can set this to 0. This makes the game move along much quicker.
#K$Melodic StrengthMelodic Strength
Melodic Strength determines how melodic the series of notes is. If Melodic Strength is 0, the series of notes is totally random, with absolutely no connection between one note and the next. After any given note, any other note (including the very same note over again) is equally possible.
As Melodic Strength ranges up towards 100, the melodic connection between one note and the next grows. If Melodic Strength=100, the melody moves almost entirely by step.
Melodic Strength of somewhere between 20 and 50 approximates the relative proportion of various intervals found in common-practice-era music. You can consider Melodic Strength-50 to be "Easy" (mostly movement by step) and Melodic Strength=20 to be "Difficult" (a high proportion of large intervals).
For Perfect Pitch training, it is probably best to keep the Melodic Strength at 0. If you find this difficult, you may begin with Melodic Strength=50 and work it gradually towards 0. With a high Melodic Strength, the exercises should be easier because you have more relative pitch cues to help you guess the answer.
#K$"Note" or "Chord" Radio Buttons"Note" or "Chord" Radio Buttons
Selecting "Note" allows you to practice single notes; "Chord" practices major chords built on the note. For the purpose of the single note exercise, see The Main EarTest Exercise For the purpose of the chord exercise, see A Second Exercise—Chords.
The Options Menu allows you to set various midi options.
#K$Midi Note for "Replay Note"Midi Note for "Replay Note"
You can select a key on your midi synthesizer that is the equivalent of the "Replay Note" button. When you need to hear EarTest’s question note over again, just press this key on your midi keyboard. This way, you can use EarTest from you midi keyboard, without ever touching your computer keyboard.
You can enter the midi note number of the key you wish to use (if you know it!) or push the "Listen" button and then push the midi key you wish to use; the number is entered automatically.
If you don’t want to use a Midi Note for "Replay Note", just set the note number to 0.
#K$Sound to Play on Wrong Answer and Sound to Play on Right AnswerSound to Play on Wrong Answer and Sound to Play on Right Answer
EarTest can play any midi note or sound on any channel when you give a right answer and/or a wrong answer. Or it can play a short wave file when you give a right answer, and a different wave file when you give a wrong answer. The ability to play these sounds after right and wrong answers is very useful because it gives you immediate aural feedback, reinforcing your correct or incorrect response in a very powerful way.
If you choose to play a sound on right/wrong answer, be sure to choose a sound that is not pitched. If the sound has a definite pitch to it, you will consciously or unconsciously use that pitch as a reference point to the notes EarTest plays for you.
If you use a midi sound, as a general rule, you will want to use percussion sounds. By convention, percussion sounds are usually played on midi channel 10. Many (but not all) synthesizers use patch 99 for percussion sounds.
Options You Can Set for Sound to Play on Wrong Answer/Right Answer:
Play a sound when note is correct/incorrect
Check this box to enable the sounds. Uncheck it if you don’t want the sounds.
Play Wave/Play Midi
If you select "Play wave" then EarTest will play a preset wave file in the EarTest directory on right or wrong answer. The wave file is simple to use, but you can’t change its volume or sound easily. The wave file will play using your default windows wave device (see Control Panel/Multimedia/Audio/Playback/Preferred device).
If you select "Play midi" the EarTest will play a midi sound on right/wrong answer. In that case, all the settings listed below must be set correctly to get the sound you want.
The midi channel to play the note on. Range: 1-16. Typical value: 10.
Be sure to choose a different channel for these sounds than you do for the normal EarTest channel, set on the main EarTest window. If the channels conflict, results are unpredictable. If you encounter problems (i.e., your midi device funnels all channels down to one, no matter what you do), try setting all volumes (here and in the EarTest main window) to the same value. Volume settings are the main point of conflict when the different sounds must share a channel.
The patch (i.e., instrument, voice, sound) used. Typically, for percussion sounds, patch is set to 99. Range: 1-127.
The velocity of the midi note; that is, how hard it is struck. Range: 0-127.
The volume setting for the channel. Range: 0-127.
The midi note number to play. Typically on a percussion patch, each note number is a different percussion sound—high hat, gong, snare, bass drum, whistle, handclap, etc.
If your device conforms to the General Midi standard, you can look at the General Midi Percussion Mapfor help in choosing your note number
Press the (Listen) button, then play a note on your midi keyboard. EarTest captures both the note number of the note you play and the note’s velocity (i.e., how hard or soft you played it).
How long the sound will play (in milliseconds). Generally, a value around 120 works best. If the sound is interfering with the note that follows, make this value a little bigger. (Percussion sounds often ignore note-off signals.)
"Test" will play the sound so you can try it out.
More Advanced Issues:
Reset turns off all midi notes and returns the midi devices to a default state.
Midi/Show Midi In Values
Useful for testing the Midi Input Device, this menu item will show all raw midi data sent by the currently selected Midi Input Device.
The Stats Menu allows you to view a variety of statistics that allow you to gauge your progress and pinpoint which notes are causing you trouble, and which notes you confuse with which other notes.
Separate statistics are gathered for single-note exercises and chord exercises.
Statistics "Since Change" tell you your statistics since you last added a new note or a new octave.
Statistics "All Sessions" show you all statistics since EarTest was installed. If you should wish to reset these statistics, simply rename the "EarTest.ini" file found in your EarTest directory (this will cause all your EarTest settings to be lost, however).
Statistics ‘This Session" show all activity (single-note and chord exercises) since you started up EarTest.
The statistics matrix is particularly useful for seeing which notes you confuse with which others.
If you wish to keep separate statistics for different users, simply install EarTest multiple times, in a different directory for each user.
The Weights Menu allows you to automatically set the Note Weights according to the statistics that have been gathered, or to reset all weights to equal (even) values.
Setting the Note Weights according to the statistics makes EarTest emphasize those notes that you have missed most often. You can emphasize these notes weakly (for a slight emphasis) or strongly (for a more pronounced emphasis).
+#K$General Midi Percussion Map
Midi instruments that conform to the General Midi standard usually follow this table to a greater or lesser degree.
As a rule, percussion sounds are sent on midi channel 10. Many midi instruments use patch number 99 for percussion, but (many) General Midi instruments send percussion sounds on channel 10 and the patch number is irrelevant.
The FM midi synthesis of (many) Soundblaster compatible soundcards is General Midi compatible.
Note# MIDI Drum Sound
35 Acoustic Bass Drum
36 Bass Drum 1
37 Side Stick
38 Acoustic Snare
39 Hand Clap
40 Electric Snare
41 Low Floor Tom
42 Closed Hi-Hat
43 High Floor Tom
44 Pedal Hi-Hat
45 Low Tom
46 Open Hi-Hat
47 Low-Mid Tom
48 Hi-Mid Tom
49 Crash Cymbal 1
50 High Tom
51 Ride Cymbal 1
52 Chinese Cymbal
53 Ride Bell
55 Splash Cymbal
57 Crash Cymbal 2
59 Ride Cymbal 2
60 Hi Bongo
61 Low Bongo
62 Mute Hi Conga
63 Open Hi Conga
64 Low Conga
65 High Timbale
66 Low Timbale
67 High Agogo
68 Low Agogo
71 Short Whistle
72 Long Whistle
73 Short Guiro
74 Long Guiro
76 Hi Wood Block
77 Low Wood Block
78 Mute Cuica
79 Open Cuica
80 Mute Triangle
+#K$General MIDI Instrument Patch Map
Midi instruments that conform to the General Midi standard usually follow this table to a greater or lesser degree.
The FM midi synthesis of (many) SoundBlaster compatible soundcards is General Midi compatible.
(Note that these patch numbers are 1-based whereas EarTest uses 0-based patches. To convert, subtract 1 from these patch numbers—i.e., Acoustic Grand would be patch 0 in EarTest; Bright Acoustic is patch 1 in EarTest, and so on.)
Prog# - Instrument
1 Acoustic Grand
2 Bright Acoustic
3 Electric Grand
5 Electric Piano 1
6 Electric Piano 2
9-16 CHROMATIC PERCUSSION
11 Music Box
15 Tubular Bells
17 Drawbar Organ
18 Percussive Organ
19 Rock Organ
20 Church Organ
21 Reed Organ
24 Tango Accordian
25 Acoustic Guitar(nylon)
26 Acoustic Guitar(steel)
27 Electric Guitar(jazz)
28 Electric Guitar(clean)
29 Electric Guitar(muted)
30 Overdriven Guitar
31 Distortion Guitar
32 Guitar Harmonics
33 Acoustic Bass
34 Electric Bass (finger)
35 Electric Bass (pick)
36 Fretless Bass
37 Slap Bass 1
38 Slap Bass 2
39 Synth Bass 1
40 Synth Bass 2
45 Tremolo Strings
46 Pizzicato Strings
47 Orchestral Strings
49 String Ensemble 1
50 String Ensemble 2
51 SynthStrings 1
52 SynthStrings 2
53 Choir Aahs
54 Voice Oohs
55 Synth Voice
56 Orchestra Hit
60 Muted Trumpet
61 French Horn
62 Brass Section
63 SynthBrass 1
64 SynthBrass 2
65 Soprano Sax
66 Alto Sax
67 Tenor Sax
68 Baritone Sax
70 English Horn
76 Pan Flute
77 Blown Bottle
81-88 SYNTH LEAD
81 Lead 1 (square)
82 Lead 2 (sawtooth)
83 Lead 3 (calliope)
84 Lead 4 (chiff)
85 Lead 5 (charang)
86 Lead 6 (voice)
87 Lead 7 (fifths)
88 Lead 8 (bass+lead)
89-96 SYNTH PAD
89 Pad 1 (new age)
90 Pad 2 (warm)
91 Pad 3 (polysynth)
92 Pad 4 (choir)
93 Pad 5 (bowed)
94 Pad 6 (metallic)
95 Pad 7 (halo)
96 Pad 8 (sweep)
97-104 SYNTH EFFECTS
97 FX 1 (rain)
98 FX 2 (soundtrack)
99 FX 3 (crystal)
100 FX 4 (atmosphere)
101 FX 5 (brightness)
102 FX 6 (goblins)
103 FX 7 (echoes)
104 FX 8 (sci-fi)
113 Tinkle Bell
115 Steel Drums
117 Taiko Drum
118 Melodic Tom
119 Synth Drum
120 Reverse Cymbal
121-128 SOUND EFFECTS
121 Guitar Fret Noise
122 Breath Noise
124 Bird Tweet
125 Telephone Ring
+#K$The Main EarTest Exercise
The Main EarTest Exercise
The main EarTest exercise goes like this: You select the notes to practice (begin with C and D) and the octaves to practice (begin with four octaves centered on middle C). The computer selects a note and an octave and plays the note in that octave. You respond with your answer note by either clicking with the mouse or by playing the note on a midi keyboard connected to your computer. In this exercise, the octave of the note is irrelevant—if the answer is C, you can respond by playing any C on your midi keyboard.
What happens when you make a mistake? Suppose D was played, but you incorrectly answered C. Then the computer will alternate playing C and D several times each. While the computer is playing the notes, you must be carefully listening and comparing the pitch colors of the two notes. By comparing the pitch colors of the two notes, you gradually learn to distinguish the notes’ pitch colors.
Keep practicing C and D in this way until you can consistently get 95% accuracy (many streaks of 20 or more in a row correct). Then add E. When you can get 95% accuracy in C, D, and E, add F. Proceed in this way, adding the notes in this order: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, F#, C#, D#, G#, A#.
While doing this exercise, you should use a sound on your synthesizer (that is, a patch) that you are used to hearing. If you are a pianist, use a piano sound. Organists, use organ sounds; french hornists, use french horn sounds, and so on. You have spent many hours listening to your primary instrument, and this will be extremely helpful in detecting pitch color, which is very subtle. The ideal situation is to practice using your own, live instrument. Next best is a sampled patched based on that instrument. Third best is a purely synthesized sound resembling your instrument.
Consistent practice is important. Fifteen minutes daily would be ideal.
You can order the Burge Perfect Pitch Course for somewhere around US$100-$200. It is full of tips and advice, and well worth the money if you are serious about developing your ear. The main thing Burge talks about, and does a very good job of explaining, is exactly what you are listening for when you practice the Perfect Pitch exercises. This is a very tricky thing to explain, and Burge does a very good job of it (imagine explaining what colors look like to someone who is totally color-blind, or what smells are like, to someone with absolutely no sense of smell). The Burge course is advertised often in music magazines; you can find information online at www.eartraining.com.
+#K$Long Term Perfect Pitch Exercise Plan
Long Term Perfect Pitch Exercise Plan
Here is a long-term outline of how a person might set about developing perfect pitch. Your goal is to develop the ability to identify any note, in any octave, on any instrument, as soon as you hear it.
First, do the Main EarTest Exercise until you have mastered all twelve notes over the middle four octaves of the keyboard, using a sound that is most similar to your own primary instrument. This may take you several weeks or months.
After you have mastered all twelve notes on the middle four octaves of the keyboard, you should start to expand the range. The very high and very low notes are quite difficult, and it will take you a while to master them, even though you can do those in the middle of the keyboard quite easily. You can select different ranges by checking the "Octave" boxes on the main screen. Add one octave at a time, and practice with that octave until you reach 95% accuracy. Then add another octave, and so on, until you have mastered all the notes in the entire range of your instrument.
(Note that the piano’s 88-key range basically stretches from octave 2-8. The three lowest notes on the piano are in octave 1, and the highest note on the piano is in octave 9. Depending on the particular patch you are practicing with, the usable range of that patch may be either smaller or—rarely—larger than the range of the piano.)
Once you have mastered the full range of your own instrument, it is time to try different instruments. I would start out with an instrument that is quite similar to your own, and then work out to more exotic ones. When you first start working on a different instrument, you may find that you have to restrict the range again, and the gradually work out to the full range.
Once you can recognize all notes in all ranges on all instruments, you have perfect pitch! Congratulations!
+#K$A Second Exercise—Chords
A Second Exercise—Chords
David L. Burge suggests a second valuable exercise for develop your perfect pitch ability. (Actually, Burge suggests a whole series of useful exercises—get his course to find out the details.)
Instead of playing single notes, the computer plays major chords for you. You must respond by giving the root (in this case, always the lowest note) of the major chord.
You can select the chord exercise by clicking on the "Chord" button on the main EarTest screen. Return to the single-note exercise by clicking "Note".
EarTest maintains separate settings and statistics for the chord exercise and for the single-note exercise.
Burge suggests doing the "Chord Exercise" in the same format you used in the single note exercise. Start practicing with C and D; when those are mastered (95% correct answers) then add, in order, E, F, G, A, B, F#, C#, G#, D#, and A#.
As with the single-note exercise, begin practicing with the middle four octaves of the keyboard. When you have mastered all 12 notes in these octaves, gradually start adding new octaves until you have mastered the entire range of your instrument.
Start practicing this chord exercise when you have mastered about 5 or 6 notes in the single-note exercise.
The chords in this exercise are always played as a root position triad.
+#K$A Different Order
A Different Order
First, Burge suggests learning the notes in this order:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, F#, C#, G#, D#, A#
This order emphasizes a tonal relationship among the different notes. You tend to hear F#, not as just some unrelated bleep, but as the leading tone to G. A is la, the sixth note of the C Major scale, and so on.
Once you have practiced all the notes using the initial order, Burge suggests starting over and learning them again using this order:
C, Eb, F#, A, Db, E, G, Bb, D, F, Ab, B
As you can see, this order (based on three diminished seventh chords) discourages tonal thinking in the same way the first order encourages it.
This order is more difficult, but at the same time it encourages you to listen more closely to the "pitch color" of the notes.
You can use this second, more difficult order on both the single-note exercise and the major-chord exercise.
+#K$If You Don't Believe in Perfect Pitch . . .
If You Don't Believe in Perfect Pitch . . .
If you learn the notes in the order suggested by Burge (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, F#, C#, G#, D#, A#), the first notes learned are those of the C major scale. Practicing with EarTest and learning the notes in this order will strengthen your feeling for a tonal center and help you better understand the function of a relationship between the different notes of the scale. After the C major notes are learned, the black notes are added in circle of fifths order. This encourages you to hear them, as, for instance the leading tone of V (F#), the leading tone of II (C#) etc.
Thus, even if you don't feel you are learning perfect pitch, you are making some good advances in your relative pitch training. The EarTest exercise is in fact designed to do both at once.
To make EarTest act even more like a conventional ear-training program, set the Melodic Strength to a number between 20 and 50. This makes the series of notes presented by EarTest more "melodic", i.e., they don’t jump around randomly, but move mostly by small intervals, as melodies do.
You can practice ear training in different keys by simply selecting the notes of any scale as the notes to be practiced. You can emphasize the tonal feeling even more by weighting the notes in a way typical of tonal music (you can get close to this by simply increasing the weight of the tonic and dominant to 13 or 14, while keeping all other notes at 10). Putting all these together gives some practice, at least on the small scale, on something very similar to real melodies (of course, EarTest has no idea of long-term melodic contour, motives, modulations, etc. etc. etc.).
+#K$A Few Sample Ways to Practice with EarTest
A Few Sample Ways to Practice with EarTest
#K$Fast and FuriousFast and Furious
This is a fast-moving version of EarTest; you can easily practice 1000 notes in 20 minutes or so. You can combine these settings with any of the practice methods listed below, to practice either perfect pitch exercises or relative pitch exercise fast and furiously. This moves so quickly that don’t have time to "think"; you operate on pure instinct and reaction. This is a good place to be with ear training.
#K$Classic Burge Perfect Pitch ExerciseClassic Burge Perfect Pitch Exercise
This is generally the way David L. Burge suggests practicing in his Perfect Pitch course. You use the patch of your native instrument. You have plenty of time to listen to each note, and plenty of time to compare the pitch colors of the correct answer and the incorrect response if you make a mistake. Melodic strength is 0, so that the notes skip randomly all over the keyboard.
You can practice this with with either "Note" or "Chord" selected.
You start out practicing with C and D over the middle four octaves of the keyboard.
#K$Ear Training 101Ear Training 101
You are a music major and just enrolled for your first ear training/theory class. You feel like your ear isn’t that great. You need something that will help you with your melodic dictation, sight singing, and other ear training exercises.
You select the C major scale and weight the notes so that tonic and dominant are emphasized. This gives a feeling of tonality to the "melody" EarTest plays.
You select a moderate note length and 3 short repetitions on a wrong answer—just enough to help you get your bearings and get back on track. You select a relatively high melodic strength, so that the melody moves mostly by 2nds with occasional 3rds and very few larger intervals.
So that you get instantaneous aural feedback, you make sure that the response sounds are set up in the Options Menu:
Before you start practicing with EarTest, you play the C major scale several times on keyboard, and sing or hum the scale, to establish your sense of the tonality, and, especially, where the tonic, dominant, and leading tone of the scale are.
Then you practice with EarTest for 10-15 minutes. You repeat this routine several times per week throughout the semester.
Practicing this way will greatly help your ability to hear and think in a key, that is, within the context of a major or minor scale. This, far more than practice on abstract harmonic or melodic intervals, will help you in sight singing, melodic dictation, and even harmonic dictation.
#K$Ear Training 102Ear Training 102
Now in your ear training class you are studying the sharp fourth degree of the scale, which is like a secondary leading tone to the dominant. So you add F# to your C major scale. You know the sharp four (F#) occurs somewhat less often than the natural four (F), so you adjust the weights accordingly:
#K$Ear Training 201Ear Training 201
You want to develop equal facility, playing and thinking in all keys. So you practice in all different major and minor keys. Here is how you might setup to practice in C# major:
(Note that some notes are spelled enharmonically. Since you are responding on a midi keyboard, it makes little difference.)
#K$Ear Training 301Ear Training 301
By now you are getting comfortable with melodies that have larger skips and more chromatic tones. You might practice with a setup like this:
Here, the D major scale is selected, with extra emphasis on the tonic and dominant. To this scale, the sharp four (G#) and the sharp one (D#) are added, but these "chromatic" tones are weighted lower than the notes of the scale.
You reduce the Melodic Strength, which makes a higher proportion of larger intervals:
#K$Ear Training 099Ear Training 099
You want to improve your ear, but don’t think you can handle all the different notes of an entire scale all at once. You decide to simplify things. You pick only the notes of the five finger pattern CDEFG, in only two octaves.
You increase the Melodic Strength, so that the melody moves mostly in a very predictable way:
When you feel comfortable with these notes, you add B and then A. After a few weeks you add a third octave and then a fourth. Now you are ready to enroll in Ear Training 101!
+#K$A Few Miscellaneous Notes
A Few Miscellaneous Notes
When you are giving answers in EarTest, the octave of the answer is irrelevant. The reason for this is that the "pitch color" of all Cs--high, low, or middle--is very similar, and the same goes for all Ds, Es, Fs, etc. It is sort of like dark red, normal red, and light red--each is slightly different flavor, but all are fundamentally the same. In EarTest, we recognize that all Cs are slightly different. But what we are trying to recognize and learn is the fundamental similarity in the pitch color of all Cs.
You will notice that by default, the notes are played for quite a long time (2000 milliseconds, that is, 2 seconds). You can change this to a shorter value if you like, but for many purposes, it is actually more productive to have the note sound for a long time. Spend that entire two seconds really listening to the note that is playing, and you might find that you make faster progress than if you just rush, rush, rush, to practice a lot of notes. Make haste slowly.
The most important time you spend using this program is the time you spend listening. Even if you instantly know the right answer--especially if you instantly know the right answer!--spend the time to listen carefully to the note the full time it is being played. This is where you will learn something from this program. If you are just constantly in a rush to push the right button, you probably won't learn anything!
+#K$More About Test Mode
More About Test Mode
It can be fun to try Test Mode cold (when you haven’t practiced at all for several hours) and also when you’re warmed up after a practice session. That way you can find out if an EarTest practice session is having any effect on your ear.
Test Mode uses the same options as normal modes—the same note selection, note weighting, octave selection, etc. So, for instance, if you want to test yourself on all 12 notes over the entire piano keyboard, you must make those selections before clicking "Test Mode".
Be aware that in Test Mode with all 12 notes selected, by pure chance (i.e., no perfect pitch ability at all) you will get only 1 in 12 or 8.33% of the answers correct. If, coming in cold and on a reasonable large sample of questions—say, 100—you score even 20% correct answers, this is a strong indication that you have some degree of perfect pitch. If you can repeat this 20% rate over several test periods on different days, then this establishes with virtual certainty that you have some degree of perfect pitch ability. (One or two examples of rates higher than 8.33% could be a statistical fluke, but if you can repeat it day after day, the chances of it being a fluke get progressively smaller).
A 20% correct response rate (which I have picked purely for purpose of illustration) doesn’t seem impressive. Yet it is 2.5 times the rate due to pure random chance! If you can achieve even this rate of correct answers in test mode with all 12 notes selected (and over a significant number of questions), it proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have some—admittedly imperfectly developed—perfect pitch ability.
It is worth bearing in mind, too, that a person with a relatively highly developed sense of perfect pitch will not score 100% in every possible test. Even Mozart, in transcribing the Miserere made a few mistakes. Of course, they were mostly in inner voices, and of relatively small consequence to the overall effect, but still, it highlights the fact that when we see the term "perfect pitch" we somehow imagine that it must be some sort of infallible, machine-like perfection of the ear. Humans—even one as precocious as Mozart, just aren’t like that. Most perfect pitch possessors can be thrown by different kinds of high notes, low notes, notes in unusual contexts, notes with unusual timbres, and so on.
So don’t make the mistake of aiming for 100% machine-like perfection. Try the more achievable goal of taking your ear where it is right now, and improving it a little each week or each month.
You can check for midi device setup in your Windows Control Panel/Multimedia/Midi and Control Panel/Multimedia/Advanced. If no midi output devices are installed there, you may have to install the correct drivers for you midi card or soundcard, reinstall the drivers, buy new hardware, consult your local Windows guru, or sacrifice a small herd of goats to appease the great and inscrutable Add New Hardware Wizard.
Generally, however, if you have a soundcard installed, you should have at least simple midi playback capability. Most soundcards have something like "FM Synthesis Midi"; try that first.
If you can play midi files with Windows Media Player (mplayer.exe in the Windows directory) then EarTest should work, too. You may want to test using Media Player and a midi file (look for files with extension .mid); when you get that working, try EarTest.
If you think your midi output should work, but it doesn’t, try going through this checklist:
Two things to try if all else fails:
http://www.signum.it/ Signum 1100 DX
is a software professional sampler with many interesting features! It's a really
powerful sound module conforming with DIRECTX cooperative directives so that
you can easily integrate it with your audio/midi studio setup.
If you are developing your perfect pitch with EarTest, it is important to practice with a high-quality sound. Cheap FM synthesizer "piano" sounds really don't cut it.
To get a really good quality sound from midi, you might spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on high-quality sampling sound cards, synthesizers, or sound modules.
If you are on a budget, you might try some software synthesizers, which—in some cases—allow you to create high-quality sampled sounds using software. Some of this "SoftSynth" software presents itself to the Windows system as just another midi device. EarTest can use this "SoftSynth" device just as easily as any other midi device. Install such a SoftSynth and for a very cheap price you have got a very good quality midi instrument.
Below is a list of some online places you might look for SoftSynths.
A list of many different freeware, shareware, and commercial softsynths. There are many you might try, but keep your eyes peeled especially for tiMidity.
The original softsynth ver 1.3
3 Oscillators, each with 3 octaves, added detune (phat). Select classic analog wave forms or noise, design your own using a harmonic
synthesizer, or use a .WAV file.
LFO programmable just like an oscillator.
SVF filter captures classic Oberheim synth sound.
5 stage envelopes.
Built in stereo effects.
Audio Compositor 3.3b
40$ shareware (limited to 22 kHz mono and read-only of soundbanks in the unreg'd version), MIDI to WAV (16, 24 or 32 bit) renderer & player, soundbank editor and converter
works via DirectX or MME and is therefore the first realtime software-wavetable-MIDI-player I know which works under NT4 (Timidity didn't allow realtime MIDI input)
it reads a standard MIDI file or live input from MIDI IN port (use a loopback midi driver to route the signal from a MIDI sequencer into AC)
Wavetable synthesis—which is what you want for EarTest. The closer you get to the "real thing", the better off you'll be.
EarTest is shareware, and the unregistered version is limited in one way: all options work exactly as in the registered version, except that you can practice at most 5 notes at once. You can still do a lot of good ear training even with the unregistered version (you can select any 5 notes to practice, so you can still learn all 12 notes—you just have to do it in batches), but if you find EarTest helpful and useful, I strongly encourage you to register.
If have tried to keep the cost of registration very reasonable. A commercial product with these same features would cost several times the price of EarTest's registration fee.
Your registration will be good for all versions of EarTest, up to and including the next major release (i.e., through 2.x but not including 3.x; right now we are on 1.x).
Single User Registration--$10
For private individuals, Single User Registration allows you to use EarTest on any and all computers owned by one family or household.
Single User Registration gives businesses or schools the right to use EarTest on one computer at a time.
Registration for Teacher’s Edition--$20
Registering for the Teacher’s Edition of EarTest gives you the same rights as the Single User Registration, but also has this additional benefit: you may (legally) give registered copies of EarTest to any students you personally teach.
For instance, if a piano teacher registered EarTest, Teacher’s Edition, that teacher could use EarTest on his or her own personal computer at home, and also give (registered) copies of EarTest to all his or her piano students. If new piano students start taking lessons with you in six months, a year, or five years, you can give them all registered copies of EarTest as well.
Note that the actual software of the Teacher’s Edition is identical to the regular registered version of EarTest. The teacher’s edition is simply a very cost-effective way to purchase the software for all your students.
Paying the Registration Fee
You can register using a credit card online at http://brenthugh.com/eartest/index.html
Or send check, money order, or (if you trust the Post Office) cash for your registration fee to
5916 Arlington Ave
Raytown MO 64133
brent @ brenthugh.com
Please include your email address and specify "EarTest for Windows Registration".
In order to keep prices down, you will be sent only the registration key, not the actual software. The software can be downloaded athttp://brenthugh.com/eartest/index.html. If you have trouble downloading the software, email me.
The registration code will be emailed to you (under normal circumstances) within a week after the payment is received; often turnaround is under 24 hours.
When you receive your registration code, go to the "Register" menu in the main window of EarTest and enter the code.
Please don’t distribute the registered version of EarTest to anyone, or give the registration code to anyone (unless you have purchased the Teacher’s Edition of EarTest—in that case, please don’t distribute the registered software or the registration code to anyone other than your own students).
+#K$If you want to play percussion sounds with a different Midi Output Device than the one you use for the other EarTest sound, you do it this way: Select "Midi Mapper" as your Midi Output Device (on the main EarTest window). Within Midi Mapper you can map any midi device on your system to a particular midi channel—go to Control Panel/MultiMedia/Midi to set it up. Setup your main Midi Device on Channel 1 and your Midi Percussion device on Channel 10. Then set the Midi Channel on EarTest’s main window to channel 1. Set the midi channels on the Options menu to channel 10.