Relative Pitch
Ear Training Exercises!

Relative Pitch refers to a system of pitching where the focus is on the relationship between pitches, rather than on their exact pitch.

This is opposite to Absolute Pitch which refers to the exact pitch of the note that is played or sung, for example C# or Eb.

It is simpler for beginners to use a relative system of pitching rather than an absolute one, because we would not need to think about what is the exact pitch of the notes that we are singing.

Rather, we would be more focussed on making sure that the pitches we sing are correct in relation to each other, and that would mean that the melody that we sing would be accurate, in whatever key we are singing!

Do check out some useful Ear Training books and resources that will help us to understand more about the relative system of pitching! Teaching relative pitch often involves using a Movable Doh system, where students are taught to use solfege to learn the melodies or songs that are to be sung. Students are first taught to listen out for the ‘Doh’ or bass note of each chord that is being played. Here is a demonstration of how this is done:

Movable Doh Ear Training Demonstration
The singer listens to the key that is being played, and identifies it as the ‘Doh’ or starting note of each key. This ‘Doh’ moves along with each of the different keys, hence the name ‘Movable Doh’.

Now, it is your turn to try out this Movable Doh exercise on your own! Do remember to do some simple vocal warmup exercises before you start any voice training.

Movable Doh Ear Training Exercise – Female Key
Movable Doh Ear Training Exercise – Male Key
If you are unsure of whether you are singing in the correct pitch or not, always seek the advice of someone else who is better than you at pitching, and ask him or her to listen to when you sing and tell you if you are on pitch or not!

Once you are able to catch the various ‘Doh’s of each key being played, you can then move on to learning how to write out the melodies being sung using the solfege system.

A

basic major scale would have the following solfege:

1 (Doh) 2 (Re) 3 (Mi) 4 (Fa) 5 (Sol) 6 (La) 7 (Ti) 1 (High Doh)

If you know the bass note or ‘Doh’ of the key of any song, you can then work out the solfege of that song by listening to the relation of the notes in the melody!

This would involve knowing how intervals are structured and how to identify them, and also knowing your solfege by heart so that you can relate it to the melodies that you hear!

This certainly is not a simple skill to develop, and will take some time and lots of practice to perfect it!

If you wish to know more, check out the Ear Training books and resources that I have recommended on this website!

For beginners, knowing how to identify the ‘Doh’ for each key that we sing in, and understanding the Relative Pitch system is sufficient to help us to be able to pitch better!

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