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ToneGym

Regarding interval training, what are your thoughts on ToneGym's approach (the Departurer and Lander games) vs. "functional" ear training (Alain Benbassat's method)? I downloaded the Functional Ear Trainer on a whim, and have had some success with it - I'm pretty good at recognizing the major scale notes now. BUT - that method relies on playing the I-IV-V-I cadence before each note (perhaps only for beginners, but that's what I am). The ToneGym games play random notes, without any key as context, and I'm still having difficulties telling P4 and P5 apart.

Naturally I prefer the easier method :), but the real question is - what's better in the long run for the aspiring musician? Is it OK if I do the functional training only? Is it important that I do learn to recognize intervals of "random" notes (without any key as context)? And if the functional approach is better, should ToneGym switch to it (or maybe offer it as an alternative)?
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Lucilius F
Jan 08
I know it's probably not what you wanna hear as an answer but there is no better approach :) Both functional and learning intervals are useful. Though i would say the functional training is more focus on harmonic hearing while intervals helps more with the melodic ability hearing. Train what you need most when you're good at both, but i think differientating a p5 from a P4 is quite important without a harmonic context, but it's just my opinion!
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Robert E Head
Jan 08
I stumbled into the Functional Ear Trainer also and learned so much from it. I have found it more helpful than random pitches out of context. No doubt doing both is best, but hearing pitches as scale degrees is super helpful.
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Matthias CJB
Jan 08
„Functional ear training“ sounds like learning solfège to me. I would recommend the latter. There are also syllables for all diatonic notes and even gestures for the notes. This can help to get a more „embodied memory“ of the scale degrees.
I would say, that those are to distinct skills, but I guess that one skill will profit from learning the other.
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Adam Ritchie
Jan 08
Both are good. Functional ear training is great for relative pitch and even hearing chord progressions. Hearing intervals are also handy though. :). ps. it can be tricky hearing the difference between those p4 and p5 intervals especially if you're used to using 5th inversions in your playing.
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Matthias CJB
Jan 09
The functional ear training app is really nice. It's free and you can switch the numbers to solfège!
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@Lucilius F , coming from a position of ignorance, I'm mostly curious. These approaches seem so different, yet there's no clear comparison between them (that I could find) online. So, "both" is as good an answer as any :)
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Lucilius F
Jan 10
I stumbled more recently on the functional approach, but to me it's quite similar to learning the notes in a harmonic context (differentiing differents chords with different added upper notes or different inversions ), so it hasn't seemed difficult. When the chords are quite dense/complex and with inversions, you have to be able to hear individuals notes inside. The pure intervals however at the beginning were harsh, especially descending ones (actually comparing descending 4th and ascending 5th and vice versa for exemple). If i can give a piece of advice what made all the difference to me was to be able to sing these intervals. But i guess the journey of developping its hears is different for everyone.
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Lucilius F
Jan 10
I had forgotten about that but another thing that helps is to have a memorable song for each interval both ascending and descending that contains it. Helps a lot. You can find lists online. At some point you won't think about the references but at the beginning it really helps especially for the tough ones!
Last thing: learning them through different instruments is tougher but really solidified these intervals in my memory .
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Riv Kah
Jan 10
It looks to me that this approach works as a bridge between the interval training and the scale training we have here in ToneGym.
Now that you have shared this I think I am gonna use both, I don't see a "better" nor a "worse", simply more approaches to gain flexibility when working with tones.
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Hugo Paris
Jan 10
I've used the functional ear training aproach extensively. mainly with the app. It has helped me a lot in recognizing intervals. but I had to work on not singing the scales up/down eventually. The functional approach was still helpful with verifying my more intuitive answers then.

I will second @Lucilius F on the helpfulness of finding familiar songs that feature the interval you are trying to learn in their most memorable part (first notes, hook,...). I find that having one for both ascending and descending the interval is needed. The list has to be yours, so that the songs are the most familiar, and easy to recall, to you. Tonegym's "interval memorizer" is a great place to start this list. You can find it under the toolbox in Tonegym's menu.
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Kurt Owen
Jan 10
A way that helps me is memorizing each interval as it relates to some commonly known song. For example, a P4 is the same interval as in the first two notes of the song "Here comes the bride"....might be a resource online for this. It's a good starting point.