If you followed along with us a few weeks ago, you know how much interval ear training can help you as a musician and how to get started with training itself. If you haven't read it, head on over to Boot Camp for Your Ear.
This time, we're going to look at a bunch of applications and websites that will help you with regular ear training sessions. Most of these go beyond intervals, of course.
This article was previously published on the AudioJungle blog, which has moved on to a new format in 2010. We'll be bringing you an article from the AudioJungle archives each Sunday (or sometimes Friday).
1. MusicTheory.net's Interval Ear Trainer
Ricci Adam's MusicTheory.net is a well-respected site that offers loads of great lessons and trainers. One of those trainers is an Interval Ear Trainer and I confess that this is the one that got me a passing grade on tests. Best of all, it's free.
It has an Interval Trainer and an Interval Ear Trainer in the menu, so be sure to pick the one with "Ear" in it—unless you want to learn to see intervals on sheet music. This ear trainer lets you hear ascending and descending intervals, and lets you choose which intervals to test at any given time. For what it's worth I do recommend not trying to train on the whole set at first, just like muscle training. Start with minor seconds, move up to major seconds and minor thirds, and so on.
2. Sibelius Auralia
Auralia is pretty popular, especially among music educators. It allows you to train and test yourself on a range of things, from intervals and inversions (yeah, I never quite got those by ear either) to scales and rhythms. The pricing is a little overzealous: $199 for the average user or $99 for students, but it's money well spent if you intend to make ear training a long-term habit and go beyond just basic interval training. I've mainly listed because outside of web apps, it's damn hard to find ear training software for the Mac.
Auralia is available for Windows and Mac. Check it out here.
3. GNU Solfege
This free and open source ear trainer does a range of things, including singing and identify intervals and chords. It'll also test you on scales and your recall of various rhythms. It has a pretty spartan, down-to-business interface, not that this is necessarily a bad thing.
Auralia is available for Windows and Linux. Check it out here.
4. EarMaster 5
Where Ricci Adam's trainer got me through tests, I know a few people who did quite well with help of EarMaster. It has a ridiculous number of trainers: interval comparison, identification and singing, chord identification, progressions, and (ack!) inversions, scale identification, rhythm reading, imitation, dictation, and correction, and melodic dictation. Spend too much time with EarMaster and you'll ruin recreational music listening forever because you won't be able to stop analyzing it
You can grab a copy of EarMaster starting from $70. Unfortunately, it's Windows only. Check it out here.
With a name like that, this one is hard to miss. It's a free, web-based option that doesn't only do intervals, but chords and melodies too. It's always encouraging when the app's author uses their own software for training, and that's the case with this one. IWasDoingAllRight gives you quite a lot of control over your training session with options for the tempo, the delay between plays, and allowing you to select the key center and starting cadence.
Check it out here.
6. BigEars Ear Trainer
Here's one I used one time the night before an exam when MusicTheory.net was inaccessible. It's nice and simple, and it does the job. It gives you a choice between ascending, descending or both, and you can tick the checkboxes next to each interval to determine which ones you want to train on. It's also got a fairly unique feature where next to each interval name is a button that lets you hear that specific interval. Don't use it to cheat, though!
Check it out here.
As with any list, for every option I've listed there are a million more out in the wild. If you have a favorite, let us know about it in the comments.
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