Last time in our Ear Training 101 series, we talked about interval recognition. We discussed how important ear training is to jazz musicians (and musicians in general) and concluded with an interval recognition test to see how well you could do. If you haven’t taken that test yet, be sure to do it.
We also discussed the importance of ear training fundamentals. Yes, it is important to learn jazz solos by ear, learn jazz standards by ear, or even take licks into all 12 keys. These are some musical ways we can develop our ear. But as they are in all kinds of skills, fundamentals are the key to success.
The next basic ear training fundamental I want to address is chord recognition. That is, being able to hear a chord played and recognize its quality. The two kinds of chords I want to go over are triads and 7th chords.
Just in case you aren’t familiar, here are some definitions.
A triad is a grouping of three notes that can be stacked in thirds. So the basic formula for a triad is: Root-3rd-5th. The 3rd and the 5th can be altered depending on the quality. The 4 kinds of triad qualities are:
A 7th chord is essentially a triad with an added 7th. So the basic formula for a 7th chord is: Root-3rd-5th-7th. The 3rd, 5th, and 7th can be altered depending on the chord quality. The 5 kinds of 7th chord qualities are:
Major 7: Root-3rd-5th-7th
Dominant 7: Root-3rd-5th-b7
Minor 7: Root-b3-5th-b7
Half Diminished or minor 7(b5): Root-b3-b5-b7
Diminished 7: Root-b3-b5-bb7
Take the chord recognition test
Now let’s move on to the main event. As musicians we want to make sure that we can recognize these different chord qualities by ear. These sounds should become second nature. For some this test might be less challenging and more review, and for others this may be essential.
We are going to keep it simple for this first chord recognition test. We will only cover these basic triad and 7th chord qualities and not deal with extensions just yet. In addition, all of the chords will be voiced in root position, meaning the bass note is the root of the chord, building up in thirds.
For the triads section, each triad quality will be played three times.
For the 7th chord section, each quality will be played two times.
Write down your answers as you go along. When you are finished, click the Get Answers button at the bottom to see how you did. (Of course if you need to work on hearing these sounds, look at the answers right away so you can study them!)
If you did take the test, leave a comment in the comment section below with how many you got right (ex. 18/22).
Best of luck!
How did you do? Remember to post your results in the comments section below. If you are unfamiliar with these, I hope you find this post helpful! Being able to recognize these chord qualities is incredibly important, so study up.