Reading by Ear



Now that you can recognize the notes two higher and two lower, you’re ready to start drawing these notes out of the tonescape without hearing them first.

But rather than practicing with a recording, we’re going to start reading the notes from music notation.

And since you can already recognize the tensions, you don’t need the recording to tell you if you’re imagining the right note. Instead, you can listen to that note in your mind’s ear, or hum it at first if you need to, and check for yourself if you’ve got it right.

So turn on the tonescape, and then there are two different notations that give you notes to hear inside the tonescape.

Both notations place the anchor on the middle line of the staff. But in the first notation, every note is only one note higher or lower than the previous note. And in the second notation, the notes are random—any note can follow any other note.

You might find the first notation a little easier to begin with, because you’re always finding the next note higher or lower than the note you just heard. But as you move between the notes, be careful to keep yourself positioned at the anchor, and to really feel each new note as a tension to the anchor.

Moving between the notes in this way will set you up for the second notation, because to find a random note, you want to develop a feeling for how many steps higher or lower it is than the anchor.

To practice, you can start at the anchor, then move through each step between the anchor and the note that’s written. Then when you reach that note, feel it as a tension that many steps higher or lower than the anchor, and then work your way back to the anchor. Take as much time as you need to do this.

Before long, you’ll be able to jump right to each new note and feel it as a tension to the anchor, without having to step through the notes in between.

When you start to get the hang of this, it’ll feel like reading a book quietly to yourself. You’re building an instrument in your mind’s ear, that you can use as you’re reading, or writing, or listening, or playing a real instrument. You’re developing musical fluency.

So give it a try. And when you’ve gotten the hang of hearing both notations in the tonescape, that’s when you’re ready to come back for more.

Tonescape Exercises

A Tonescape Alone

Notation: Reading Imagery 1

Notation: Reading Imagery 2