How to Detect Chords in Music

Detecting chords in music is an advanced skill requiring a finely tuned ear and musical skill. Most listeners can detect a melody or a rhythm of a song, but detecting chords eludes them. Learning to detect chords will require increasing your understanding of music and developing your ear. A slow process of daily training is the best and most efficient way to train the ear.

Step 1 Begin by learning the sound of a major and minor third. To find a major third, pick any note on the piano and then count up four keys, including black keys. To find a minor third, pick any note on the piano and count up three keys. Play the first note and the second note together and you will have a third.

Step 2 Assess your ability to identify a major and minor third. If you can identify these intervals easily, move on to identifying chords. A major chord consists of a major third and a minor third stacked on top. A minor chord consists of a minor third and a major third stacked on top.

Step 3 Continue to develop your ear by learning to identify diminished and augmented chords. Diminished chords consist of two minor thirds. Augmented chords consist of two major thirds.

Step 4 Practice with a friend and ask her to play these chords to help you learn to identify them. It is also possible to record several chords on the piano and then play them back and try to identify them. With time, your ear will become familiar with these chords and be able to recognize them.

Step 5 Start listening to hymns and chorales. Identify the chord qualities that you hear in these songs. As you develop, you can branch out into popular music and eventually classical music. Tips Practice for at least 15 minutes each day to develop your ability.


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