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Harmonic Ear Training
Harmonic Ear Training
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational
NR     2004

An excellent workshop from the assistant chair of the Ear Training Department at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, this DVD is a vital intro to the topic for songwriters and performers looking to improve their list...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational
Studio: Berklee Press
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/22/2004
Release Year: 2004
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Too many presumptions, too little explanations and material
Mr. C. Rhucroft | 07/01/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"please excuse lack of punctuation but i have a multiple fracture of left collar bone at the moment (left-handed as well)

there is a 5 minute introductory section on the DVD which seems to focus exclusively on how the students (presumably of berkelee school ) already have significant knowledge of theory ,secondary dominant harmony, many hours of melodic and rhythmic dictation experience etc. trouble is it's me that bought the dvd...i am not "the sudents"! i was not aware that this was supposed to be for in-house use only.

the core presentation is only about 25 minutes . i frankly found elements of this perplexing. the purpose of ear training is to analyse music by ear, either live or recordings, therefore usually in real time. however having suggested that identification of the tonic is the first element (fair enough) she proceeds to play a tonic chord before playing at the keyboard the example piece to be identified ! and totally misses any discussion of how to identify the tonic in the normal scenario where it is not first delivered on a plate..any methods, difficulties or key ambiguities that might come into play etc are not discussed. try bruce arnold's key note recognition book and you may find that finding the tonic is not such a piece of cake as is suggested here.

next step is to extract the bass line formed by the harmony...again this presents no difficulty since she sight reads it ! the example is not replayed and an attempt made to extract the bassline from this hearing, with discussion of how to do this,..she just plays it from the page!

next step is to hear the bassline as a tonal melody using solfege. again this is an acquired skill in itself but it is more or less assumed that you, the presumably Berkelee student of the introduction, can already do it. in fact there is no actual explanation of solfege other than the mention of do,re, mi ..certainly no ti,li,say etc.

the following chapters may be of use if you can already do the stuff above and the theory it was assumed you already knew, but with a total length of about 10-15 minutes or so this seems to be in contradiction with a question from the introduction re. how long it takes to learn this stuff to which the answer was 'i hope you are not doing anything else for the rest of the week'. the emphasis is more on inferring and guessing chords from theoretical presumptions rather than just plain hearing them ..perhap this better represents the reality of things but if you where hoping this dvd had the magic answer to that one then look elsewhere.

especially if you are,like me, not already a college level etc music student with aural skills falling just short of hearing chord progressions i would forget this in favour of working with bruce arnold's books, gottschalk/kloeckner 'functional hearing' etc. the dvd visual format is not exploited here and the short duration and lack of in-depth discussion/explanation makes most ear-training book/audio systems preferable to this to my mind

These techniques really work!
Brian Shaw | Canada | 03/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The aim of this Berklee Workshop DVD is to help students recognize chord progressions. There has been a scarcity of material in this area of ear training and this DVD helps fill that gap very nicely.

Berklee instructor Roberta Radley discusses how students can take a logical and analytical approach to breaking down the hearing process by listening for one element at a time such as the bassline, the chord's third, or whether the chord sounds "in key' or not. By applying these processes individually and combining them with theoretical knowledge the student can determine the chord progression. Radley does a great job of explaining and providing suitable examples.

The second half of the DVD consists of listening exercises of increasing complexity played on piano followed by the answers (I did notice one error in the answers).

Radley doesn't pretend these skills can be learned by watching the DVD a few times and in fact says right at the beginning that it takes a very long time. Also basic ear training and music theory is required before starting harmonic ear training.

This DVD is a very good investment for anybody wanting to learn how to recognize chord progressions, just expect to invest a lot more in time."
Waste of money
dante | Rio de Janeiro | 03/24/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I threw this dvd out after one watch, Berkeley should be embarrassed. A five minute lesson basically with some very basic theory. Here is the entire dvd: Listen for the bass note in the chord and try to figure it out from there."
A vital introduction ?
Anna Kuklosis | 04/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"NB. As might be apparent I previously posted a negative review under a different account for this- however since then I've not really been happy with my own review so here is another ..I've set this to three stars just so I don't too much influence the overall rating.

This is described on the box as ' A vital introduction to ear training for songwriters and performers looking to improve their listening skills...', however, in the introductory dialogue between the instructor, Roberta Radley, and the 'host' Matt Marvuglio they immediately start talking about 'the course is designed for students who already..' and how ' most of these students already have a lot of experience of..melodic and rhythmic dictation, theory of harmony through to secondary dominants (you might have to look that one up) etc etc. Neither host nor instructor at any point in this introduction addresses themselves to you the viewer and it comes over mainly as an 'in-house' study aid for students of Berkeley College.

This is far from being a vital introduction since the elements 'the students' are assumed already to have much experience of are taken for granted and there are no introductory sections devoted to the material the viewer may need to acquaint themselves with before tackling any chord progressions ....whilst you cannot necessarily expect a long introduction to basic physics in a book on quantum mechanics, explanation of arithmatic in a complex math book, I think you would expect to find here at least a brief explanation of the preliminary skills and knowledge needed, guidance on how to acquire them if you don't already have them, or at the very least other publications to refer to. I would imagine there are even quite a few professional songwriters and performers who have never heard of secondary dominants (quite apart from knowing that if the bass note has dropped by a fifth between 2 chords it probably means the first chord was a secondary dominant.. I think I got that right!) and don't own a copy of Walter Piston (see Amazon). I've seen a quite a few instructionals where they insist 'switch the tape off here and don't come back till you've thoroughly studied page. X etc... in this case you might be coming back several months, a year later..but unfortunately you can only pick up indirect hints at what it is you are supposed to do.

Without going into too much detail (and I'm a learner rather than an expert) you need to understand the idea of a tonal centre and be able to hear the way individual notes sound in relation to a tonal centre before you can tackle anything on this DVD. A key phase of working out a chord progression suggested here is to to be able to hear the bassline as a 'tonal melody', however, this term is not defined, there's no substantial explanation of what this's just assumed you can already do it (which may be the case if you are 'on the course'). It's also suggested that for any particular note you are trying to identify you reference the key (eg. C major) rather then the chord of the moment.. this will be a new concept to many but it's only treated briefly.

My advice - if you have not already done so first check out Bruce E. Arnold's ear training books and website where these concepts are properly explained (and also 'Harmonic Experience' by W.A. Mathieu). Once you've done that you might well decide you don't need this DVD.. on the other hand it does not cost that much so you might want to give it a try anyway.

You will also need to study some way into an academic harmony text such as Walter Piston or Aldwell/Schachter to be able to understand the terminology and theory used here..part of the working out what a chord is is done here by 'deducing' what it must be from the kinds of 'rules' for harmonic sequences found in these books, but I suspect many popular artists you may be seeking to follow in the footsteps of never heard of any of this.

What's further frustrating about the presentation is the limited 'academic' context, which I suppose is inevitable given what I said about the introduction. The main presentation lasts about 20 minutes and consists of a sort of dictation exercise to work out a block chord progression played by the instructor on the keyboard (the rest of the time is drills in the same context). There's nothing on other musical contexts...perhaps the most obvious one being the approach to take for live music where the rest of the musicians won't stop or let you 'rewind the tape' to hear what just happened. Songwriters are mentioned on the box but there's nothing on using your ear training to better understand and compose your music. There's nothing on how to score read harmonic sequences, contrapuntal sequences etc.

I've tried hard to think of postive things to say about this DVD but at the end of the day I think for many potential buyers the negatives are the things to point out. Unless you are already almost there the most you can pick up is indirect hints are what else you might's something to do with moveable-doh, solfege, secondary dominants.. I'll have to go and look that up somewhere else.

PS. the word modulation is not used at any point- nothing on that one."