Okay, so we use the term “news” pretty loosely around here! But it’s that time again: a collection of interesting aural skills bits and pieces from around the internet.

Jump to:

Garageband Music Theory

Develop tempo aural skills with iOS Garageband
Have you bought the new iOS version of Apple’s Garageband music creation software? Check out this excellent intro by musician John Anealio on using the new iOS Garageband app to learn about tempo.

There are further tutorials, on whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes.

If you’re just starting to get your head around music theory and have an iPhone, iPod or iPad, you should definitely check out these articles!

Jazz Improv Tips

If improvisation is a big part of your musicianship, whether as a jazz or blues player or ‘play by ear’ master, this series of improvisation tips blog posts by pro jazz trumpeter Jason Klobnak may provide you with a few handy clues.

You’ll find out about creating a good practice routine, using triplet rhythms, listening to others and much more.

Have dig back through the archives – there are 40 posts and counting!

Music To Your Brain

A lovely infographic explaining how music you hear gets processed by your ears and brain to reach your mind (click to enlarge):
Learn about aural and neural processing of music: Music to your Brain Infographic
(from Scientific American)

Ever wish your kid had an off switch?

Here’s a great article for Music & Life readers, describing a fun game you can play, teaching basic awareness of sound and self-control:

Using a remote control, pretend your child is a radio. Explain how, when you point and click, you are switching the radio off, making it – and him – silent. Make an audible clicking noise as you press the button. When you click again, the radio turns on and music (whatever noise the child desires) should continue. Once the concepts of on and off are well understood, make things more fun: increase and decrease the time between clicks; throw in a few false movements and double clicks; walk around the room and click from different places, and so on. Any instrument will work and you can extend interest in the game by using different instruments, even attempting to switch instruments between clicks.


This is a very simple game, but a great one with which to start, because it develops impulse control and demonstrates that most fundamental binary property of music: sound and silence.

Read the whole article.

New Axis of Awesome video for “4 Chords”

We’ve been very focused on chords here lately, and have used the excellent Axis of Awesome ‘4 chord song’ video to demonstrate the most common 4-chord progression. They’ve followed up the original live performance video with a swanky music video:

Check the description on YouTube for the full list of songs used!

Dynamic Range Day

After years of a musically-destructive arms race in the loudness war, it seems like the record industry might finally be realising that compressing every pop song to kingdom come may not be the best strategy… This month a new initiative celebrated “Dynamic Range Day” with a superb open letter to the record industry:

  • Most people don’t notice the effects of “loudness”
  • Most people who do, don’t like it
  • “Loudness” has no effect on sales or chart placements
  • In the near future, all music will play back at a similar level, regardless of how “loud” it is

The loudness war is insane, irrelevant, and obselete. The obvious thing to do is to stop competing.

Read the full letter.

The story of the ᗅᗺᗷᗅ sound

There are some fantastic documentaries of bands and studio engineers recounting the making of their incredible tracks and albums. This “Classic Albums” one on The Dark Side of the Moon is a particular favourite of mine. Check out this 8-minute video about ABBA’s first big hit “Ring Ring”, for which engineer Michael B Tretow used multitracking, echo and chorus effects to create their distinctive “wall of sound”:

(press the CC button to enable English subtitles)

Over to you

So that’s what we came across lately… How about you? Have you discovered a great new ear training tool? Got a great aural skills tip to share? Just want to complain about the woes of ear training class or ask for help with a song writing challenge?

Leave a note in the comments below!

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