WHAT DOES EAR TRAINING MEAN?
The term ‘ear training’ means developing the competence to recognize instantly what you hear. This applies to all musical concepts including melodies, chords and rhythms. As a musician, the ability to respond spontaneously to the music around you is crucial, both on stage and in the studio. Not everything is rehearsed and written down, some of the most sublime moments in recorded and live music are improvised. This is where ear training comes in.
Having taught ear training for several years, I still have difficulties understanding why some people can do this naturally, whereas others may struggle for months on end without much progress. This secret may be revealed by neurologists some day. In the meantime, some of us will continue practicing the usual drills of music; triads, 7th chords, inversions, scales, rhythms and so on. All of these are well represented in apps like Ear Master, which are fine tools in their own right, but don’t make the process of ear training any smoother.
EAR TRAINING VOCABULARY
Maybe the fixed terms we use to denote what we hear form part of the struggle itself. Terms such as “major triad”, “minor seventh chord”, “2nd inversion”, “Dorian scale” can often sound alien and intimidating. If a student is not very familiar with these terms and the systems they represent then I can imagine this to be a big obstacle. The vocabulary itself can often also shroud the basic musical processes that they name.
INTRODUCING MELUDIA For EAR TRAINING
Meludia is a beautifully designed web app with quite a different approach to the subject. It doesn’t confront the user with any difficult jargon until the base process of recognition has been established. Instead it uses layman’s terms to annotate the exercises; such as high or low, stable or unstable. It starts at the very beginning. One must initially, for example, distinguish the difference between only one note or more than one, or make an assessment as to whether a fast flurry of notes is either ascending or descending in pitch.
It uses very good sounds, mainly piano, orchestra and drums for the rhythm exercises. Every once in a while, technical terms are tentatively introduced, like major and minor. They are not explained and nor do they need to be. Meludia conveys the lesson through audio, which greatly aids the process of ear training. Indeed, in most cases, the ideas explain themselves.
Each exercise is presented with gorgeous graphics and a kind user interface. Piano keyboards, interval numbers and other useful information is all helpfully displayed. Although designed to accommodate the very beginner, the tasks and theory presented in Meludia become very complex indeed.
Meludia is split across four difficulty levels – beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert. You can begin any of these at any time, but cannot skip ahead within a section. I think this allows a better learning curve.
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WHO IS MELUDIA MADE FOR?
- Musicians or music students of any level, any age and any instrument
- All professional musicians
- Music teachers or professors for use in class
WHAT ARE THE KEY FEATURES?
- Practice sessions
- Perfect structure to slowly grasp how to ‘hear’ music
- Good sounds and overall design
OUR FIRST IMPRESSION
We had a very good first impression of Meludia. At Uberchord we share in the mission of developing innovative new ways to make learning music more accessible and enjoyable. The graphics are very appealing as are the sounds to the exercises. The exercises load quickly and we got into the flow of improving through the levels and took us all the way to the advanced level 27. Sharing Meludia with my students and colleagues led to a lot of positive feedback.
Meludia will hopefully make ripples within the musical education market. It will improve the way its users hear and recognize music. It also trains both focus and memory, which can only lead to a higher level of composition among musicians. Ear training being one of the most difficult and unexplainable skills in music education – and also one of the most important – definitely needs some innovation. It is good to see Meludia finding new ways to approach this important and overdue domain! Can’t wait to enter the expert level!