What Is A Musical Ear?

“The Musical Ear”. I hear this term thrown around a lot by experienced musicians, but the majority of beginner and intermediate guitarists don’t really know what it is.

No, it’s not a game where your ear is swapped around, like Musical Chairs.

Your musical ear is basically how familiar you are with the various sounds that we deal with in music, and therefore can make judgements accordingly. For example, there have been plenty of occasions where I’m out and about, and hear some music. Instantly, I just know what the chord progression of the song. Why? Because it’s something that I am very familiar with.

How, you ask?

Not because I am specially gifted or talented. I have been exposed to so much music for such a long period of time, that I can hear a sound and know what it is.

This extends beyond just recognising and identifying. As a result of being so familiar with these types of sounds, I have a good idea of what will suit a song. It could be an effect, lick, solo, riff, chord or anything else that I’ve previously used. A good example is that I know “power chords” suit every genre, except jazz. Or low gain distortion is great for blues and light rock. Or if I’m adding guitar over the crescendo of a pop song, then layering octaves, power chords and little licks usually sounds great – especially if the octaves play a harmony to the power chords.

Want to improve your Aural Skills? Check our our FREE ONLINE VIDEO LESSONS or our other article 4 Tips To Improve Your Aural Skills.

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