If you are a musician, the most important part of your anatomy
has to be your ear. And you should make every effort to develop
your ear to the utmost. There are a lot of tools available to
help you do this. From books on sight reading, to various computer
programs that test your ability to hear different aspects of music.
Once such program is called the "Functional Ear Trainer".
Functional Ear Trainer is a program that was originally written
by musician/computer programmer Alain Benbassat to help improve
his own ear. And now he is very generously offering this program
to the general public as free download on his website. (http://www.miles.be/)
Here is how it works. The program will play a cadence of chords
to help your ear establish a key center. The program will then
play a random note. You have to name what note has been played
based on how you hear it in the context of key. Hence the name
of the program "Functional Ear Trainer". You are
learning how to hear notes in relationship to the key that they
are being played in.
While that is the basic idea of how the program works, there
are a few features that help you customize your ear training experience.
First you can choose to work with any major or minor key. You
can choose to work with random keys, or stick with one at a time.
You can also choose what notes that you want the program drill
you on. If you are new to ear training, you might choose to have
the program only drill you on a couple of different notes. As
your ear develops you can keep adding more notes until you have
all 12 note possibility. The program includes some preset options
for which notes you will be tested on, but they are just a convenience
and you are not limited to only those sets of notes.
The next option that you have is how you want the program to
establish the tonality of the key for you. The default setting
is to have the program play a I-IV-V-I in major, or i-iv-V-i in
a minor key. Or for a more Jazz oriented cadence, there is a IIm7-V7-Imaj7
for major, and a iim7(b5)-V7-i in minor. There is also the option
of playing just the I chord of the key, or just the root. Or there
is even the possibility of having the program not play any cadence
You can either view choices for the answers as the actual note
names, or as solfeggio syllables (do, re, mi, etc.). Alain also
supplies good documentation for the program, and helpful suggestions
on how to practice using the Functional Ear Trainer.
Functional Ear Trainer is a great program, and I strongly recommend
that everyone download this and use it as part of your daily practice.
There are a lot of ear training programs out there that do more,
but I have not seen many that test your ear to hear notes in the
context of a key. And in a real world situation, that is a very
important skill to have.