“Die Voicings haben mich überzeugt! Endlich mal ein Gehörbildungssoftware, wo die Voicings so sind, wie sie in der Praxis auch meist gespielt werden.“
- Thomas Silvestri, Pianist / Komponist
Yet another ear-training app? Well, this one is different!
Playing jazz, pop and improvised music means being able to quickly recognize and replay what you hear. The app focuses on microphone input and includes active and passive hearing. An integrated voicing generator ensures that piano voicings common in jazz practice are used. The app provides exercises for specific hearing problems, such as identifying root tones. Although this app began as an ear-training tool for students of jazz and pop at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), it is also intended for musicians playing in other styles, and at all levels. It was developed by Swiss IT specialist and jazz trumpeter Daniel Schenker, professor at ZHdK, in collaboration with his son Elia (19, Informatiker EFZ).
How it works
The app offers a host of ear-training exercises, many of them quite enjoyable, all designed to enhance both active and passive hearing. Active hearing means reproducing what you have heard on an instrument or with your voice, while passive hearing refers to the ability to identify such things as the scales, triads and four-note-chords, tensions and slash chords, on which active hearing is based. One of the features that makes our app so special is the fact that its microphone enables a sort of dialogue between the app and the musician – whether on voice, wind, string instruments, guitar, piano or electric bass. Unlike other apps, this one uses an integrated voicing generator to ensure that the chords played (position, voicing) correspond to the actual performance situation. In addition, the app uses a detailed educational guidance system, which allows users to individually customize the exercises. You can obtain over 250 achievements. Compete with other users and publish your high scores and trophies on the in-app leaderboard!
The app also offers an easy way to backup statistics and settings and transfer them to other devices.
Active exercises (use of the microphone)
Passive exercises (identification practice)
For whom is the app intended?
Inside Limmattal, Thomas Pfann, November 2022 - Portrait about Daniel and Elia Schenker (german)
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Schweizer Musikzeitung, Andreas Chr. Szalatnay , 24.11.2021
Daniel Schenker's ear training app can be used to train active and passive listening. It is mainly focused on jazz, pop and improvised music, but by far not only.
If we remember our first contact with ear training as a school discipline, we usually think back to the first courses at the conservatory, in which individuals had perfect pitch, but most still heard absolutely nothing. To do justice to this scattering of talents was the greatest challenge for lecturers in frontally offered lessons. In the ear training application ET-Ear Trainer, developed at the Zurich University of the Arts under the direction of the jazz trumpeter and IT specialist Daniel Schenker, the users themselves make the individual adjustments to the respective learning level in the clear basic settings. If the "Easy" checkbox is activated, a number of parameters such as playback tempo, reference tone specification or response time of the tasks are changed in favor of the learners.
At the beginning of the exercise sequence, one of 21 subject areas can be selected. From diatonic imitation to recognizing four-notes over a bass note including tensions to tapping the correct scale, the individual menus offer plenty of material and challenge. Accurate listening, recognition, imitation, analysis and memorization are equally trained and encouraged in a structured way. The scope of the app's content and the required terms make it clear that it is not possible to simply train while playing, but that the basic knowledge has to be acquired beforehand or in parallel. Only the not generally known "Resolution Game" for interval determination is explained with note examples. The target audience is primarily music students at technical colleges. For younger students or amateurs, the program should be supplemented, for example, with tetrachords or five-tone spaces. Also, harmonic connections (cadences) with corresponding voice-leadings or polyphonic listening are still completely missing.
Since the app in the present version 1.02 (on the iPhone S) can only be operated in portrait mode, errors creep in again and again when tapping the displayed keys. Also, the relatively sluggishly reacting on-screen keyboard does not allow rhythmically correct playback in the memory game. The ten interactive exercises, which are controlled via the microphone, are therefore much more fun. Although the microphone flashes somewhat hesitantly, it reacts very subtly to what is played, and voice as well as wind or string instruments and piano reliably trigger the corrective reaction of the device up to octave determination. Caution: in exam mode, the three seconds between question and answer choice can be cheatingly abused to quickly approach the solution before it is scored. In the demanding mode, the scales are played very quickly, whereby the tone lengths are unfortunately not adapted to the tempo. Thus, two three notes blur into a cluster, which makes listening even more difficult.
The design of the app comes across as very simple and purposefully clear. It is not a game, but a learning application! The fact that after a short time quite a few improvements like the explanation tour (including links to Youtube clips in German or English) or the replay button could be included, gives hope that the app will appeal to an ever broader community. It is not only highly recommended to improvising musicians, but also to performers and composers who can achieve more precision in performance and memory with the Ear Trainer.
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Daniel Schenker started his career as a IT specialist. Since 1995, he works as a musician. He teaches trumpet and ear training at Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK.
Link to Website
Link to an Interview from ETH Zurich
Elia Schenker completed his training as an Informatiker EFZ, graduating in 2023 with an IPA with the highest grade. He works at the Zurich-based IT company Digio AG.
Link to Website