Ear Training: Theory Tips for Using Samples Better

Ear Training

Sample-based music may seem as far away from traditional music theory as it gets.

However, knowing the basics of theory could help you make better music, it doesn’t matter what tools you utilize.

Theory could be hard, however, the payoff for applying it to your workflow with samples is worth it.

Here are 5 ear training ideas for utilizing your samples better.

1. Get it in key

That is the number one problem for producers in terms of integrating samples with harmonic content into their songs.

Relying on your experience with music theory it could be a bit tricky at first, and you will have to use your ears to help you.

To get began you should identify the key of your own track. When you write songs by improvising chords and lines, you may not know the key of your track offhand.

Right here’s a pretty big hint: a track usually begins on tonic harmony. That means that first chord in the track could usually tell you the key right away!

However, to fully close the case you will have to watch your harmonic progressions. Listen for the harmonic resting place of the track—the chord that feels the most stable and the most just like the “home” of the song.

Then utilize your Roman numeral analysis to ensure. The most surefire sign that confirms a key is a motion from a dominant chord to the tonic chord where a phrase rests.

Watch out for these V-I’s!

When you have decided the key of your song you must find the sample’s relationship to it.

Right here’s where ear training comes in! In case your sample is a single note you will need to search out the interval relationship between the sample and the tonic note of your track’s key.

When you want more practice identifying interval relationships by ear, try the roundup of ear training apps to develop your skills.

Lastly, utilize your sampler’s transpose function to repitch the sample the correct variety of semitones to transpose it to a note in the important thing of your track.

2. Try out relative keys

Relative keys are relevant major and minor keys that share the same key signature.

Every major key has a corresponding relative minor and every minor key has a matching relative major.

That means a melodic sequence of notes could always work in at least 2 keys!

Even when your sample has a major melody it can be more fascinating over the relative minor—and vice versa.

To find the relative minor of a major key, take the scale with the same key signature that starts on and finishes on the sixth degree.

To find the relative major of a minor key, take the scale with the same key signature that begins and ends on the third degree.

Ear Training

And then there are the modes. When you are willing to go outside the major scale you could use related scale formulas to move your sampled melodies into different modes!

For instance, a C major melody that includes the leading tone (B) playing over an F root is actually F Lydian!

3. Know your diatonic chord qualities

Just because a sample includes a major or minor chord does not mean you are limited to utilizing it as a tonic chord in a single key (and its relative minor/major).

Major and minor chords both have their place inside a key. These are called the diatonic chords.

Diatonic chords are the chords built on each degree of the scale containing only notes from within the key.

Right here’s a helpful chart to remember the order of chord qualities in the major scale:

Ear Training

Looking at the chart it’s simple to see that each key has 3 major and three minor chords. No matter which key you are in you will have 3 options for both when you transpose your samples.

4. Make progressions with parallel chords

Once you are working with a sample that contains a chord you may feel a bit limited.

Since you could not change the relationships between notes inside of the sample, you are forced to stick with what you have.

However, that does not mean you could not make entire progressions based on a single harmonic sample.

Parallel transposition could be a fascinating chord technique in itself.

Actually, there’s a lot of examples of classic songs which are built on parallel chords.

It’s a good example of how limitations could sometimes improve creativity!

5. Experiment with rhythm

So far I have only been talking about harmony, however, there’s just as much theory knowledge dealing with rhythm.

Sampled rhythms do not need to match up perfectly in blocky chunks. Offset the beginning and finish of percussion grooves to see unique methods they could fit together.

You may even find those alternate rhythmic stresses produce polyrhythms that add considerable interest to dull loops.

Well trained ears

Ear training is one of the most vital components of music theory.

The skills you develop via ear training will assist you to in every musical situation, even in terms of utilizing samples.

Try these tips the next time your struggling with samples and music theory.

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