Chords are everywhere in music. From the rich harmonies of classical orchestral music to the complex chord varieties used by jazz musicians and the young guitar player strumming away in his bedroom. Any time you hear more than two notes at once - that's a chord. But what kind? Major? Dominant seventh? Which inversion? What voicing?
Chord ear training can help make sure you always know.
With so many different types and uses of chords, the possibilities for training are naturally just as endless and wide-ranging. However, music in the Western tradition (including most modern rock and pop music) is based around some core principles that go back centuries.
Which area of chord ear training you should focus on will depend a bit on your background and what skills you want to improve. For a lot of students, starting with the four types of triad, and then building up to more complex 3- and 4-note chords, and studying chord inversions is a good progression - no pun intended!
The fundamental type of chord is the triad: a three-note chord which can be major, minor, diminished or augmented.
Learning to recognise the different kinds of triad is an excellent first step in becoming proficient with chords, and our Chordelia: Triad Tutor app makes it easy, fun and effective!
Learning intervals is another good way to start opening up your ear to the harmonies of chords. The RelativePitch app for iPhone and iPod Touch helps you get your ear around all the intervals of the octave.
Discussion and Advice
The Relative Pitch forum is the best place to discuss ear training for chords, get tips and share your own advice and experience with others.
Watch a short video introducing the music theory behind chords:
Chords are almost always used as part of a harmonic sequence, with one chord following another. Once you've started to appreciate different types of chord, the topic of chord progressions is a great next step.
Interactive chord training
If you've enjoyed this game, we recommend the full Theta Music Trainer which has several other chord games and more advanced challenges.
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