Creating EarTrain’s Progression Mode

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This is the third part in a series of articles about perfect pitch. In Pt1″Perfect Pitch and Color Hearing” we talked about color hearing and in the Pt2″Perfect Pitch: Not so  perfect after all” we discussed the imperfections of perfect pitch. Here we will talk about how we came up with the algorithm behind EarTrain’s Progression Mode.

Like mentioned before EarTrain focuses on perfect pitch ear training. Because perfect pitch training can tedious and frustrating, we wanted to create a fun and, at the same time, helpful session, by the end of which someone would have developed perfect pitch. And that’s how Progression Mode was born.

To keep it fun, we thought of a system that allows to gain and lose experience, just like a game.

Who doesn’t like games? And who hasn’t been hooked to such a game, determined to gain as much experience as possible? That was the first milestone.

Then, the algorithm itself was left. To create it, we had to take into account psychological aspects of hearing, color hearing itself and of course experience from people who managed to develop the ability.

Two aspects were taken into account. Relative pitch and color hearing.

Since most music students have developed some degree of relative pitch, we decided to take advantage of it. Especially at the beginning, someone can “climb up” levels using some degree of relative pitch. 

However, unconsciously, he listens to the true “color” of different frequencies, thus begin to develop perfect pitch. This is more obvious at the first stages of progression mode. At the later stages, when relative pitch cannot be used as efficiently, (because of the growing number of the notes) color hearing becomes more and more established.

How does it work?

Just like visual colors, some sounds are easier to perceive.

For example red stands out more, compared to pink or purple. The same way, we can say that C# stands out more, compared to C or F. It’s all in the color. Usually someone begins to distinguish these notes that stand out the most, and then moves to the more subtle ones. When I started practicing perfect pitch, some years ago, the notes that stood out for me the most were C, D, (I’m a pianist after all!) F# and Ab, whereas I always confused F with C (i guess we can say they have similar colors for me, just like some people confuse e.g. purple with magenta), E with A, and for some reason I was “blind” to eb and Bb. After extensive research on music forums, I found out that most people practicing perfect pitch had trouble with the same notes, more or less. We took this into consideration, but didn’t rely too heavily because color hearing is still subjective after all. So, after all this research and after extensive testing, progression mode was born! And because, just as I said before, color hearing is subjective, we would love to hear from you! What was your experience?

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Creating EarTrain’s Progression Mode

This is the third part in a series of articles about perfect pitch. In Pt1″Perfect Pitch and Color Hearing” we talked about color hearing and in the Pt2″Perfect


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