5 ways to develop a natural music sense

Posted by Pratibha Sarathy on 24 Feb 2018

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Not everything in music can be explained in words. A large part of music learning comes from our natural ability to understand and perceive music. Even to correctly repeat what your teacher sings, you need to have a good ear for music. Here are 5 ways in which you can develop a natural music sense.

1.Scale shifts - We usually learn classical music on one single scale or shruthi throughout. Multi-scale practice is a great way to stimulate your brain and understand swara positions relative to the base note.
Exercise: Try singing the standard sa-pa-sa on different shruthis. See if you are able to easily shift the base note.

2.Note matching - Usually when we hear a note, we manage to sing it correctly. But have you tried the opposite? This is a great test of how strong your musical ear is. The more you do it, the easier it gets!
Exercise: Hum any random note, and then try to match the pitch using a keyboard or harmonium.

3.Root note identification - Every song is based on a certain root note (or Sa). It is not necessary that the song begins with Sa, but at some point it usually lands on Sa(the position of rest). It takes a good ear and natural sense of music to be able to quickly detect the position of Sa.
Exercise: Play any song and try to hum the root note or Sa of the song.

4.Raga shift - We often get comfortable singing in a particular raga, so it takes us sometime to sing the exact same tune in a different Raga. Practice your vocal exercises in multiple Ragas always. This greatly improves your pitch control and musical ear.
Exercise: Sing a familiar pattern of notes or an exercise, in 3 different ragas.

5.Swara Translation - This is my favourite form of ear training! In classical music we first learn the swaras and then the words corresponding to them. But have you tried to do the reverse?
Exercise: Take a song and try to translate it into swaras. (Hint: You would be able to do this only if you are comfortable with exercise 3 (root note identification)