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Musical ear: myths and reality

Musical hearing is a combination of abilities necessary for composing, performing and actively perceiving music.

Musical hearing implies a high subtlety of perception of both individual musical elements or qualities of musical sounds (pitch, volume, timbre), and the functional connections between them in a musical work (fret sense, sense of rhythm, melodic, harmonic and other types of hearing).

Among the various types of musical hearing, distinguished by different signs, the most important are:

There is a widespread belief that ear for music is something almost unique – a gift from God, and a person with ear for music is very lucky. After all, he can sing, make music, and in general, he, in a sense, is the chosen one.

How many people experience a sense of inferiority when it comes to music, stating: “I got a bear in my ear.”

Is it really such a rarity – a musical ear? Why do some people have it, while others do not? And anyway, where did he come from a man? Why did he appear at all? Maybe this is something like extrasensory abilities?

It is worth remembering that human abilities arise for a reason. All our ability comes from vital necessities. On two legs, a man learned to walk because he needed to free his hands.

Roughly the same situation with musical ear. This feature came about when living things needed to communicate using sounds. In humans, a musical ear developed along with speech. In order to learn how to speak, we need to be able to distinguish sounds by strength, duration, pitch and timbre. Actually, it is this skill that people call hearing.

Types of Musical Hearing

Absolute pitch

The ability to recognize by ear any note (d, re, mi, etc.) and play it by voice without any preliminary settings. This also applies to sounds played not only on musical instruments (siren, phone call, knock on a metal pipe, etc.).

Relative hearing

It differs from the absolute one in that for determining or singing notes by ear, a tuning is necessary – a sound or a chord, regarding which a scale will be built mentally.

Developed in the process of learning music.

Melodious hearing

The ability to hear and understand the structure of the melody (pitch, direction of movement and rhythmic organization), as well as reproduce it in voice. At a higher level of development – write notes.

Developed in the process of learning music.

Harmonious hearing

The ability to hear harmonious harmonies – chord combinations of sounds and their sequences and play them in a voice in an unfolded form or on a musical instrument.

In practice, this can be expressed, for example, in the selection of listening accompaniment to a melody, even without knowledge of notes or singing in a polyphonic chorus.

Perhaps its development, even with an initial lack of such ability.

Inner ear

An internal representation of the correct pitch pitch without voice reproduction.

Inner hearing uncoordinated with the voice. First level.
In practice, it is expressed in the selection of a melody, possibly with accompaniment, by ear on the instrument or understanding of ear errors in the work being studied.
Inner hearing coordinated with the voice. Professional level. The result of serious solfeggio classes. It involves hearing and pre-hearing music notes and the ability to work with them without a musical instrument.

Developed in the process of learning music.


Mental planning by the inner ear of the future pure sound, rhythmic figure, musical phrase. It is used as a professional technique in vocals and for playing all musical instruments.
Is it possible to develop a musical ear?

We use ear for music, and, very accurate, constantly. Without him, we would not recognize people by voice. But by the voice we can say a lot more about our interlocutor. It gives us the opportunity to determine what mood a person with whom we are talking, can we trust him and much more. Non-verbal, that is, non-verbal, characteristics of speech sometimes give us much more information than spoken words.

Is it possible in this case to say that someone does not have a musical ear? Yes of course not! Every person who has learned to speak independently has a musical ear.

Lack of ear for music is as rare as, for example, congenital blindness!
Of course, for some people it can be developed very well, while for others it is worse, but for the vast majority of people the musical ear is quite developed to make music and achieve excellent results without special intensive training in developing musical hearing. The problem is that very often musical abilities are judged by a person’s ability to sing. If you don’t know how to sing, it means “a bear has stepped on your ear”, “there is no musical ear”.

But to sing, it’s not enough to hear well. You also need to be able to have a good command of your voice.

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