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Memorising intervals

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Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:25 am
by BJG145
Most of my life I improvised stuff without ever knowing what notes I was playing, but with the guitar that just never worked for me for some reason. So I'm approaching it from a more theoretical level.

I'm just trying to get to grips with some stuff, like...have people memorised intervals, so you just know that a fourth up from D is G, or a fifth up from G is D, without thinking about it?

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:22 am
by The Elf
Yes, it becomes as second nature as breathing.

It would be worth getting to grips with how chords are constructed on a keyboard - it becomes very easy very quickly. For instance, a basic chord consists of a root, a third and a fifth - i.e. the first note of the scale, the third note of the scale and the fifth note of the scale. Very simple stuff. Pretty soon you just hear it and know, like hearing a major or minor chord.

I bet there are loads of Youtube videos that go through it.

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:30 am
by BJG145
Thanks Elf, so just out of interest, if I said, "A fifth up from Ab", would you just know that it was Eb, or would you have to think about it and mentally work it out...? Do you recall intervals from a mental picture of a keyboard...?

I'm trying to figure out if spending time memorising fourths, fifths and the note names of scale patterns is going to help my guitar playing. Or perhaps it's just something that becomes gradually ingrained the more you play.

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:35 am
by The Elf
I've never thought about it before, but as I read your example I felt my hand make a chord shape before my mind came up with the answer, so yes, I suppose I picture it from a keyboard. It all happens in an instant though! :D

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:36 am
by BJG145
...OK, yeah, I see...

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:41 am
by The Korff
BJG145 wrote:if I said, "A fifth up from Ab", would you just know that it was Eb, or would you have to think about it and mentally work it out...? Do you recall intervals from a mental picture of a keyboard...?

In my case, it's a mental picture of a fretboard. Takes me about one second to visualise it and I'm there (I'm guessing multi-instrumentalists and people more au fait with the theory could probably tell you as easily as telling you what the opposite of 'up' is, though!)

Cheers,

Chris

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:58 am
by Scramble
I don't need to think about it, unless you ask a trickier one, like, for example, what's a 19th semitone up from Ab? But 4ths, 5ths, 3rds, 7ths, etc, they should be, as Elf said, as natural as breathing.

It's perhaps easier to get to know this stuff on a keyboard.

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:04 pm
by BJG145
The Korff wrote:In my case, it's a mental picture of a fretboard. Takes me about one second to visualise it and I'm there


A while back I came across the idea of NLP Modelling, which includes copying the mental processes of people who have developed skills in some activity. So I'm quite interested in how this works, specifically. Eg maybe you pictured Ab on 4th string 6th fret, pictured a fifth up on the 3rd string 8th fret, and knew that was Eb...? Something like that...?

(I can visualise the keyboard to some extent, but haven't played the guitar with note-awareness nearly enough to do something like the above.)

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:22 pm
by Folderol
Hmmm.
Quite often I don't actually know what I'm playing! My left hand sort of automatically seems to move to a chord that suits the melody... then again, sometimes not :)

If I have to stop to think about it I can get into quite a mess.

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:36 pm
by The Korff
BJG145 wrote:A while back I came across the idea of NLP Modelling, which includes copying the mental processes of people who have developed skills in some activity. So I'm quite interested in how this works, specifically. Eg maybe you pictured Ab on 4th string 6th fret, pictured a fifth up on the 3rd string 8th fret, and knew that was Eb...? Something like that...?

Pretty much! I might have gone a fourth down rather than a fifth up, but that's probably because I know the lower end of the fretboard better than the high, and octave jumps really are second nature to me on guitar.

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:36 pm
by The Korff
PS. My fingers twitch a little involuntarily when I do this!

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:39 pm
by BJG145
OK!

Right, here's another modelling challenge for anyone who's quick at these.

*edit*

Fourth up from F

How do you do it? Any specific mental images?

(I'd currently visualise F on a keyboard and slowly play up the scale. Hopeless.)

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:43 pm
by Scramble
BJG145 wrote:A while back I came across the idea of NLP Modelling, which includes copying the mental processes of people who have developed skills in some activity. So I'm quite interested in how this works, specifically. Eg maybe you pictured Ab on 4th string 6th fret, pictured a fifth up on the 3rd string 8th fret, and knew that was Eb...? Something like that...?


NLP... sigh. Anyway, for those who know these intervals without thinking, there are no 'mental processes' involved. You just know it, just like you know your twelve times table. (Of course there are still non-conscious mental processes going on, or at least brain processes, but none that are accessible to consciousness).

But there are mental processes involved in learning this stuff, and you're right to wonder about those. But there's no simple copying shortcut here. You should do as Elf suggested and learn how chords are constructed, by which I mean learn the notes in chords, and come to understand the relationships of these notes, and of notes to chords, and of chords to other chords, thoroughly. You need to study them both theoretically, and on an instrument. (It seems like you're already a good musician, which will make it easier in one way, but perhaps harder in another way as you're having to force yourself to analyse things that have been second nature for a long time).

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:44 pm
by The Korff
C

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:47 pm
by BJG145
Scramble wrote:Anyway, for those who know these intervals without thinking, there are no 'mental processes' involved. You just know it

Yes and no; for instance, I find it interesting that both Elf and Korff experienced hand movement when thinking about it.

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:02 pm
by petev3.1
NLP hmm...

For learning intervals singing would be the thing - repetition of scale intervals etc. But for just knowing what the notes are that comes with reading, writing and playing. If you say Gmin9 to a jazz player they've listed all the notes before you've finished saying it and their fingers are on it before they've finished the list.

From an NLP perspective the relevant skill would probably be the ability to sit and practice for long periods.

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:04 pm
by Exalted Wombat
BJG145 wrote:OK!

Right, here's another modelling challenge for anyone who's quick at these.

*edit*

Fourth up from F

How do you do it? Any specific mental images?

(I'd currently visualise F on a keyboard and slowly play up the scale. Hopeless.)

Not hopeless. Though you could bypass the keyboard mental picture and just sing up the scale. Are you trying to hear the note, or know what it's called?

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:16 pm
by petev3.1
BJG145 wrote:OK!

Right, here's another modelling challenge for anyone who's quick at these.

*edit*

Fourth up from F

How do you do it? Any specific mental images?

(I'd currently visualise F on a keyboard and slowly play up the scale. Hopeless.)

Okay, here's a challenge.

- Four numbers above 3 -

Would you visualise 3 and then slowly move beads around on the abacus? Of course not. You know the numbers. You just have to learn the notes in the same way. It's just the alphabet!!

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:26 pm
by Scramble
BJG145 wrote:
Scramble wrote:Anyway, for those who know these intervals without thinking, there are no 'mental processes' involved. You just know it

Yes and no; for instance, I find it interesting that both Elf and Korff experienced hand movement when thinking about it.

But Korff says he takes a second to come up with the answer. That's not much help when improvising.

And if Elf experienced hand movement, well, how does that help you? That's because he has years of experience and as a result his brain will have numerous associative links between musical thoughts and the control centres of his hand (it happens to me sometimes too). That doesn't mean you can find some shortcut way of doing it just by twitching your hand.

(I don't mean that you can't use your hands to work this stuff out, of course. A keyboard player who doesn't just know 5ths naturally can work out what the fifth of a chord is by imagining their right hand playing the chord in root position -- the note that their little finger, or fourth finger, is on will be the fifth.)

Re: Memorising intervals

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:29 pm
by BJG145
Exalted Wombat wrote:Are you trying to hear the note, or know what it's called?

I'm really just trying to develop improv skills on guitar, and wondered whether good players know these intervals instinctively. It seems they do.

I thought maybe I should try and systematically learn, eg, "Major fourth up from E is A" etc. But I'm getting the impression that people are finding these intervals more by seeing them laid out on the instrument. So I should probably go with a more tactile/visual approach, eg:

1) See E on the third string
2) Feel/know that the fourth is a fret up on the second string
3) See that it's A