Ear Training/Dictation Requirement

Ear Training Sites:

There are two ear training sites that you can work with. You should now have password access to both:

Teoria: http://www.teoria.com/

Sonic Fit: http://www.sonicfit.com/


Below are the categories for the Music Major Dictation exam.

When you feel you are ready to take any or all of these sections, simply contact me and we'll set a time. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to take care of this exam as early in your career as possible.

Like the piano proficiency, you can take it in sections, and when you've passed a section, you'll be checked off. I have a form all ready to go.

I WILL announce one formal session near the end of term where I will invite anyone who wishes to take the full exam. Maybe you'll pass some, and you'll see where you are with the others.


You are to know all of your intervals, played melodically and harmonically. The ear training sites are great for this exercise.

Melodic Dictation -- Modal (folk) Melodies

I will play a 'simple' folk song, like a Celtic or Appalachian song, or something perhaps from a non-Western culture, but in any case, it will have a modal rather than a tonal flavor (for example "Scarborough Fair," in Dorian, or "Greensleeves," in Mixolydian, or perhaps a simple melody from an Indian Raga).

How do you practice this on your own? Easy: just write down pop/rock melodies, especially modally inflected ones like a lot of late Beatles, or melodies from folk-influenced bands currently in circulation. This is how I inadvertently trained my ear when I was young: I wanted to learn a lot of tunes popular in my day, because I was also a folk performer, and I had to learn them off the records. You can do likewise, in a much-more-easy-to-stop-and-start digital world.

Oh, you young people don't know what it was like to have to move the needle back and forth on a record to transcribe a passage of music (while walking uphill to school both ways)! :-)

See how easy you have it? 20 minutes a day and you'll have become great at transcribing modal/pop melodies.

Melodic Dictation -- European Classical Melodies

You can, also, easily practice this on your own. Just go to Naxos and play any early Mozart Symphony, say a slow movement, or a slow aria from a Mozart opera, and just write it down. You can look it up on IMSLP and check your answers.

How easy is that? You could do this 20 minutes a day (every other day from the above) and never leave your computer.

The sites have good examples of this as well.

2-part Contrapuntal Dictation

This will be from the Renaissance period, and will require you to hear two parts within a diatonic or modal context.

Teoria has good 2-part exercises.

Atonal Melodic Dictation

This will be a short, 8 to 12-note melodic shape. Not necessarily a 12-tone row, but certainly one that requires you to hear the movement of a melody that does not reference a tonal center.

You can practice this by just calling up a 20th century composer up on Naxos and writing down almost anything!

Chord-Type Recognition

Be able to recognize all the typical triads (major, minor, diminished, augmented) and seventh chords (major, minor, dominant, half-diminished, diminished) when played at the piano. They will be played with the full chord in the right hand, and a single bass note in the left hand. The bass note may be playing the root of the chord, or another note, placing it of course in inversion. You should be able to hear this distinction.

Again, the sites have many good exercises for this.

4-part Chorale Dictation, including Secondary Dominants

Examples will be along the lines of this type of progression:

I vi V2 I6 }| V7/vi vi V7/V V | V7/IV IV V7 I

You should be able to write down the bassline, the soprano line, and fill in the middle voices to the extent that you express the essense of the harmony (since this is where the chromatic notes will be).

This is the Ear Training page.