We’ve been keeping our eyes and ears open for interesting ear training links for you! Here’s what we found recently. As always, let us know if you have any to add!

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The most famous opening chord ever?

What’s the most famous opening chord of any song? One which would surely make the shortlist is the jangly guitar strum which opens The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night”:

Site author Brad put us onto this great video explaining the sound of that oh-so-famous opening chord:

Four levels of musical awareness

In a segment from his bass masterclass, Anthony Wellington talks about the four levels of musical awareness which you progress through as you learn:

“I kind of equate it to a house. Imagine a house with four rooms. And these rooms are those four levels that I talked about. But the thing with this house is: it doesn’t have any walls! At any point you can freely walk from one room to the next. You just have to not be scared to walk to that next room. You can even see that next room, you can see all these great musicians in those other rooms. You just have to be willing to take that chance.”

Similar to the four stages of competence from the psychology of learning, this is a very useful mental model to keep in mind as you develop your aural skills and musicianship! Just keep trying to get into that next room…

5 minutes to a better mix

TheRecordingRevolution.com announces that their series “5 Minutes to a Better Mix” is making a comeback!

A terrific series of free 5-minute tutorials on various topics in audio and music mixing. Some are quite technical, but others are relevant for anyone looking to sharpen their ears. Audio professionals, studio engineers or DIY-musicians could all learn a lot from these videos!

Here is a great example, covering a particular technique for livening up lead vocals:

You typically want to mix the lead vocal straight down the center of the stereo field. Simple enough. Today’s technique, however, can help you get your vocal to come not just from the center of the mix but from the left and right as well! It makes your vocals sound like they are jumping out of the speakers, and that is really cool! Sit tight for 5 minutes and see if this tip can help you in your mixes…

Free university course: Listening to Music

Listening to Music course at Yale
As part of its Open Yale Courses initiative, Yale are offering their 23-lecture course “Listening to Music” as a free series of video lectures.

This course fosters the development of aural skills that lead to an understanding of Western music. The musical novice is introduced to the ways in which music is put together and is taught how to listen to a wide variety of musical styles, from Bach and Mozart, to Gregorian chant, to the blues.

You can watch the lectures online or download the video or audio.

What musical clichés do you know?

One of the most satisfying parts of developing your musical ear is to finally understand those little familiar tricks and tropes which show up again and again in music. There was an interesting recent poll on Reddit asking: “What musical clichés do you know?”

Have a read through the comments there and see how many you recognise. Here are a couple to whet your appetite:

The Lick permeates jazz, cropping up all over the place. What is it about this lick that makes it so contagious?

The “Amen” Break is another ubiquitous little snippet, but this time a recorded drum break which has probably been sampled more than any other in history:

Another contagious riff: The "Amen" Break

Another contagious riff: The "Amen" Break

You can hear it in action at amenbreakdb.com – and there’s even been a BBC documentary!

Any more?

Have you found good aural skills learning material online, like the Yale “Listening to Music” course? Reckon there’s a more famous opening chord than that Beatles favourite? Want to share your most loved or hated musical clichés?

Leave a post in the comments below!

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