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– Okay, how’s it going guys? Julian Bradley here, welcome to another episode
of Everyday Ear Training. Now in this video, I want to
answer the number one question, that I got from the last video, which was, “How does your
One Key learning method “work for ear training?” So in the last video, I was talking about how I always transcribe
every song in the same key, which happens to be C minor and that this gives me
a crystal clear picture of how music works, how harmony works, because I have a database in my head of literally thousands of songs, that I’ve transcribed over the years and they’re all lined up in the same key. (keyboard music) So by doing this, it really teaches you the common patterns very quickly, the common core progressions,
the common base lines, the common melodic shapes and over time, you just get this crystal clear picture of how harmony works, so I got a lot of questions
about One Key learning, “How does it work?” “Does Julian have perfect pitch?” “Why don’t we just use numbers?” So in this lesson, I’m
just going to address all of these questions
and I’m going to show you how you can use this method for yourself to get a crystal clear
understanding of harmony. (light electronic music) So first things first,
do I have perfect pitch? No, I don’t have perfect pitch,
I had to work for my ear, I earned it, I have relative pitch, although I actually have what I like to call
perfect relative pitch, just meaning that I’ve trained
it to a near perfect level, so I had to work for
my ear, I’m very proud, it was a very special journey for me and in fact, I think it
means a little more to you, when you do have to earn it and you have to work hard for it. So a lot of people were saying, “Surely he has perfect pitch, “because he’s saying
note names, he’s saying” C, G, B flat, C, B flat, G, F, G, C. G, G, G, G, G, G, G, C. “So surely that means
he has perfect pitch?” Well no, I was just
listening to the music, assuming that it was in C minor, even though I know the odds
are that it’s not in C minor, I’m just assigning a key
to any piece of music, that I listen to, so
I’ll listen to the song and I just say, let’s just
assume that this is in C minor and I don’t have my instrument on me, because most of the time, you don’t have your instrument on you, when you hear music played and I’ll transcribe it,
I’ll come up with a theory and then when I get home later that day, if I want to test that answer, I’ll go to the piano first
thing and I’ll play the notes, that I had in my head,
which were all in C minor and I’ll end up playing
the song in C minor, (gentle piano music) and you keep doing this over time and you end up with hundreds,
if not thousands of songs, that are all transcribed in C minor. Now after a few months of doing this, you get fairly confident that
you know what you’re doing and you start spotting the
recurring shapes and melodies and core progressions
and the common patterns and you’ll reach a point, where you don’t even feel the need to test your answer at your instrument, so you just know with 100% certainty, that you’re hearing the
same four-chord progression, or the same pentatonic melody
and you’ll just reach a stage, where you don’t even feel the need to test your answer at your instrument. (light electronic music) So several people asked me
why don’t I just use numbers, why do I have to say
that we’re in C minor? So instead of saying G, F, E flat, why don’t I say natural fifth,
natural fourth, minor third? Well first of all, it’s
a lot harder to say natural fifth, natural fourth, minor third and secondly, it can get confusing whether I’m talking about
intervals or scale degrees, because intervals and scale
degrees use the same numbers and we’re doing both in Ear Training, sometimes we’re listening to an interval and other times we’re talking
about which scale degree we are in the scale, so for these reasons, it’s just easier for me to use note names and also that’s just how I think, I naturally am just thinking in C minor, so I’m just thinking G, F, E flat, instead of natural fifth
of some abstract scale, natural fourth of some abstract scale, minor third of some abstract scale. (light electronic music) Now, not all music is written in one key, I would say about 95%
of music is diatonic, which means it’s written in one key and really that’s most of the music you’re going to hear on a daily basis, whether you’re at the grocery store, waiting in line for
coffee, going to the gym, these places are going to
be playing diatonic music, but some music is modal, like the Dorian mode, the Phrygian mode, so what do we do for these types of music? Well, when you get a mode
or different type of scale, you line every scale up from
C, so you’re transcribing C Dorian, C Phrygian, C Mixolydian, (piano pop music) and then sometimes you get
the harmonic minor scale, again, line it up from C, (piano pop music) so yes, you do sometimes
get some pieces of music, which you aren’t going to
transcribe in the key of C minor, E flat major, but for
these pieces of music, you just line them up from C and really that’s the bigger
picture of this method, is that you’re lining everything up from C and then later on, once you’ve
learned everything from C, you can just transpose it all out into different keys from there, but I suggest that you line up everything in your head from C, you learn everything from C, because that’s how you
avoid confusion in music, most musicians are confused
about music theory, simply because they play in all 12 keys, they can’t spot the recurring patterns, but most music is using the same recurring shapes and patterns and the only thing changing most of the time is the key signature. (light electronic music) So that’s it for this episode
of Everyday Ear Training, I hope this answered your questions, if you have a question, please post it in the Comments below, I’m going to be using your questions to guide me with this
Everyday Ear Training vlog, so just post your comment below, that’s it for this session
and I’ll see you next time. And if you’d like more
information on ear training, you can go to,
it’s my website, there’s a ton of free information, you can go through my free
video series on Ear Training, which shows you how to practice
ear training the right way and how not to practice ear training, you can also sign up for Ear Training email tips from me, these
will be weekly emails, which challenge you to
transcribe songs by ear and of course, if you’d like to take my complete flagship
course in ear training, which is The Musical Ear course, you can sign up for the Wait
List at and I’ll notify you be email,
when I next open enrollment. So, that’s it from me, thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next session of Everyday Ear Training. (pouring rain) (light electronic music)

Reynold King

100 Replies to “STOP BEING CONFUSED ABOUT MUSIC – HERE’S HOW IT WORKS (Everyday Ear Training #2)”

  1. Really love your videos BUT.. I really struggle at recognizing melodies in general. What is the BEST way to actually learn it? For me it is so hard to find out a melody on a piano and gets really worse to nearly impossible if there are chords (like in "Thriller"). Every music tutorial says: Bump around on the piano until you accidentally get it and so I do, but it seems odd everytime I do it..

  2. Why C min? Asking because it's my favorite key to play in. A professor of mine said Ray Charles liked to play in it too, which I thought was fascinating how someone could enjoy a key based on the feel of it. For me it fits the hands well, just feels right!

  3. Thank you for a very useful and fun way of learning about music and ear training! I much enjoy your tips and lessons, but I do have one question: When trying to transcribe music by ear, I sometimes find it difficult to identitify the root note of the song. I don’t mean that I can’t figure out the actual note (I think of all music as if in C), but rather I‘m not always sure which note in the song is the root (i.e., what I’ll consider to be C). Do you have any tips related to this?

  4. Great method, just one point to make. If you happen to be on the bandstand and someone calls a tune out that you know, but you don't have time to transfer it from Cminor,—you're screwed. You use interval recognition (distance from the root) to hear the music. If you can do that, then you can hear how far the actual song is from Cminor and simply transpose it right on the spot. e.g.—you recognize a minor 3rd up, whether it is C to Eb or G to Bb. Once you take the time to learn all 12 keys equally well, you can use your interval method, except that you are leaving out the middleman (C minor). Not a knock on your method , which I think is great,—just an alternative way to allow you to play things on the spot in their correct keys.

  5. Thank you Julian. This once again, excellent ear training tutorial of yours has certainly removed much of the grey/complicated areas of my attempt at piano. 🙂

  6. Julian, great episode! So inspirational too. In answer to your question, no. I have never heard any of the melodies you played, but they were so good and I want to learn them now.

    What I realized while watching, was that in my piano lessons, I learned how to read and play Notes, but I never heard the language you were speaking. What I mean is, I am unfamiliar with the terms, like modes, Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, etc. So my question is, can you provide good websites or YouTube lessons so I may learn them. Are they a part of The flagship course? Are knowing them necessary to learn to play by ear?

  7. If the song is in a major key, do you transpose to C Major? I’ve been using this method for a while now because I’m not proficient In all keys. It works for me. Thanks for the video.

  8. Fantastic post! I would love if you would suggest a practice guide to for the intermediate player. I’m really at a kind of lull as to what to practice and would love to step up my game in a practically methodical way (imma!)Thank you for all your tremendous work. love this format!❤️🇦🇺

  9. I like this idea for learning harmony. Once you've figured out the song do you also play it through in the original key? I noticed you play major songs in the relative major of Cm, but for other modes you play that mode starting with C. Is this a personal preference or do you recommend this and why?

  10. All I can say is you didn't answer the question about how to know whether a song is in a different mode at all.

    All you say is "just line the modes up in C, as in stay in the modes of one key" and that's obvious, but doesn't explain at all, when you listen to a song how you can tell whether or not it's in any of the 7 modes. Every mode has 2 half steps in different positions, so if I hear a half step, it gives me no clue as to what mode it could possibly be in. I'm sorry but your explanation leaves me cold, I was really hoping for a more informative and clearer explanation with this, with strong examples.

    I'd really appreciate it if you could try explaining this again and more in depth.

  11. This is a little off topic but wouldn't it be easier to learn to be proficient at transcribing a melody at the instrument first and once that skill is learned develop the skill of writing away from the instrument?

  12. OK I'll jump on the band wagon. I know for your approach, it must be one key but, how did you arrive at C minor? I can understand a vocalist like Ray Charles feeling comfortable, as I do, when vocalizing (because, unlike The Genius, I have limited range) but, on a musical instrument (mostly) you are limited only by the instrument. Also, I find it interesting to imagine that of all, non-modal, songs, ever, having been in one key only. Very interesting. And, again, Thank you.

  13. I understand the method now, but how do you figure out the key center, the 1 or root of the song you are transcribing?

  14. Awesome, Julian.
    Years back I read an article in a guitar mag, where Steve Vai also mentioned and recommended this same method and approach of transcribing everything in C. Makes sense. Love these videos! Thanks again!

  15. HI Julian, A question please. You said that you transcribe every song you have into C Min. I started to try this out last evening and this is going to take some practice which I will do. I am wondering, why is that possible. Surely, songs that are played in the major key cannot just be played and sound the same in the minor key, at the moment I am not sure how this works out?

  16. I just have to say that this method won't necessarily work for people with perfect pitch. Training yourself to have relative pitch is infinitely more useful. In fact if you do happen to be cursed with perfect pitch it can all get terribly confusing. Having perfect pitch doesn't make things clearer, it doesn't make you a better musician; yes it means that you can identify every note but there's no way that you can mentally transcribe something by pretending it's in another key, because your ear is screaming at you that it's all a lie.

    I remember doing aural training for A level and the prof put on a record (vinyl in those days) of Hindemith's Violin Concerto (it made a lasting impression on me with what followed), gave us the first note and asked us to write down the melody. For the first time ever I came bottom of the class – I didn't have a clue. When he came to look at what I'd done he was amazed to see that I'd written down only a couple of notes. And when I asked him if the record player was running at the correct speed, because I was sure it was a semitone out, he just grinned and thought I was making a ridiculous excuse; but he checked it anyway and found that the first note was in fact an E even though the note we had been given was an F. That was the first time I realised that having perfect pitch was not everything it was cracked up to be.

    To make matters even worse, over the years my 'perfect' pitch seems to have shifted by a semitone, so now for some reason I hear a C and think it's B! It's a veritable curse. I would love to be able to transcribe everything mentally into C, but don't think it's likely to happen.

  17. Hi everyone, maybe someone has a comment on this topic of playing in Cmin. When I play pieces that have a definate major sound required for them, like fly me to the moon, or Banks of Loch Lomond, they both lay well in Cmin but the notation used is from the Eb scale and it then resolves in Eb. Is this correct? I'm confused by this, the melodies do not resolve back to Cmin but in Eb (maj). ???

  18. Why not C major?  A lot of songs are in major keys and not minor ones.  Isn't that kind of awkward transcribing a song in a minor key when it's clearly in a major key?

  19. Two observations:

    1 Solfege does this by imagining a universal key, which has the benefit of not confusing you if you aren’t playing in C.

    2 The guy waiting in line for coffee wasn’t, he was actually drinking his coffee.

  20. Hi Julian, nice video!
    And I have a question: If/when you write your own songs, do you start out in C minor?

    I think your method is a great! I have profound respect for musicians like you who can play/transcribe almost any song on the fly (performing in front of people no less), even though it has never been quite appealing enough for me to make it a goal. (Maybe someday!)
    I've noticed that I get pretty bad at hearing harmonic patterns when trying to do something "new" or finding a new melody or core for a song and I think that "confusion" is a fitting expression. That said, I find the physical difficulty of using a different key and the "novelty" of something I don't know (even if I would've understood it in another key/time signature) to be a key creative spur for me personally. So I have been keeping harmony as an afterthought. Anyway, I was wondering if you generally start with C minor and harmony when writing your own songs. Thanks!

  21. How do you remember all the chord progressions for the all the songs you've ever played? Because of you, I've played over 100 simple songs by ear with melody and harmony, but when I try to replay all 100 songs, I struggle to remember the chord changes for the songs. Do you use memory to figure out the next chord in the progression, or do you have a "feeling" of what the next chord should be, so you don't have to rely on memory?

  22. There’s nothing wrong with your method. It’s the same approach guitarist use by doing reoccurring paths and shapes.

  23. ear training is everything if you are a keyboard player
    learn gospel chords:

  24. Thas sounds really nice, to notice common patterns, etc. But for myself, with my inherited-perfect-pitch, it's litterally impossible to think in C when I hear music not in C (or perhaps just a semitone diff would be possible). I CANNOT 🙂

  25. think it as he's converting everything – what we normally would use as do-re-mi and the chord numbering (fx: II – V – I etc ) – into C minor. Meaning that for him that'd be C-D-Eb and D7b5 – G7 – Cm7 considering its C-minor and a minor 3rd up if major. here everything is relative and needed to be converted back an forth depending on the contexts

  26. If I hear a melody and I go to C minor, do I have to base the first note on C? Or just find it somewhere within C minor based on the intervals I hear.

  27. Aren't most songs in a major key? I'm confused about why I would try to fit what I hear in C minor. There's something easy I'm missing.. Thanks if you can help me. Cheers

  28. Impressive process it–how long should one expect before one becomes proficient in using the process (beginner-intermediate) ?? Good explanation and delivery enjoyed Lesson 1 & 2.


  29. Hi Julian, If we are accustomed to single single key/scale how to achieve fluency in playing across all keys/scales as a Keyboard player ? Thanks for a Great Video.

  30. Thanks again Julian. Your philosophy has helped and I am once again enjoying a revitalized musical journey. I am actually taking the time to understand what I am doing. I will take up your course once I fully devote myself to piano and keyboard. The only hurdle is my time and effort. Too many instruments at hand.

  31. Thank you really much for your advice! So when you think in C all the time, aren't you better in playing in the key of C compared to the other keys?

  32. Hey julian bradley do you want to supercharge your relative pitch?
    try using the fixed do method, you can use solfege or whatever, a good way to practice this would be later you'll know relative pitch and you can hear exactly what note it is if you just play a reference not or the D note (you said you can just sing d and get it right every time

  33. Hi, Julian. I was curious why you chose C Minor for the key to transpose in? Is it a key easier to sing in, or is it a key that's more familiar to you? Do you have this in your course? It was my idea years ago to become a piano bar musician. But I found it extremely difficult to memorize music without some sort of cover sheets. If you could go a bit more in depth, maybe I can finally get out of over the road tractor and trailer driving! ;0)

  34. It can be a good way for a beginner to "visualize" music, yes I agree with you. But you shouldn't encourage people to learn everyhing in C, because that really wouldn't make them good musicians. Also, I wouldn't encourage people to play only diatonic just because "nowadays music is 90% diatonic". If I can tell you my opinion, of that 90%, 70% is bad music, if we can still call it like that, and I really would love to see new musicians growing with a better taste of music. And you get a good taste of music if you know how to mix modes in a single song, for example! Different modes, different colours, that opens up the sound, gives major enrichment to the ears. Do you know Jacob Collier, for example? Or Snarky Puppy! I love them, they are young… and it's amazing what they're managing to create. Anyway, I'm your sub, it's just my thought but you keep going like that, good videos

  35. Great method …. please checkout some methods used in the indian music..and this isn't something new.. its been done for over a thousand years now here in india… i totally get your point and this didnt surprise me because thats how its been done here, even small kids here learn indian classical music by using the same method and its quite common here in india as far as i know..
    But these alphabets are getting in the way and thats why the confusion and so many questions… but if you figure it out … the sky is the limit.

  36. Julian. You are a great teacher. You have cleared up several nuances of music that I had not been able to clear up on my own in just a few videos. I’m excited to start trying your one key transposition concept out for size. It sounds challenging, as is anything at first, but I can imagine the pay off are huge. Thank you so much for your time. I plan on getting your book and taking your training down the road, after I chew on much of what you have already taught me. Thank you again. Cheers!

  37. Love from india , sir i had a question , what should we learn for earning our living through music in this treanding style of music now a days which is so much electronic ?

  38. It was an excellent tutorial. For those who have a problem with understanding why he chose C minor. This method does not restrict you to C. After you have mastered Cminor, improvising in Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian,. You must learn in in the other keys. Once you know this and hear the intervals better, you should be able to improvise fluently. All keys are relative to one another. They share interval commonality. Example C to D is a second,. F to G is a second, etc
    For beginners, just trust Julian and work through his method, then you're more ready to improvise with his method in all keys. I had two years of college jazz, we had to master 6 jazz songs, all 12 keys, memorized, playing in a group of 6-7 musicians. It wasn't easy, but the progress was well worth it. (Retired pianist)

  39. I always thought this should be the way to learn if you don't have perfect pich!
    You need to get to understand what is it that you are doing before you can struggle with transposition. The big question is if after you learn all those tricks you will be doing all the work to be able to play all that you know in all keys.
    From a composer perspective and music understanding it makes a lot of sense to me.

  40. Ever since I found out about you I've been in one key (primarily). Never has my ear grown so comprehensively. I'm now confidently exploring the melodic and harmonic minor systems, including modes, and memorizing their sound after just one or two days. Of course, I expect to need maintenance over time but I really appreciate it. I tell everyone about you. Thanks!

  41. Only recognized one, but still have a better understanding of how to make things less difficult . Still trying to figure out how to find modes of scales .ex. C Dorian . To find it just figure out what major scale c is the second note of? Bflat so use c d Eflat f g a B flat ?

  42. Hi Julian, I tried to identify the chord progression of a very simple G song by transcribing it in C on my keyboard. But the chords of the G song were reversed an it was so hard to get that. Do you have an advice for that ? If I do like you, listen a song and try to figure the progression in my mind, the reversed chords always make me wrong.

  43. . I noticed when you sang the minor triad ascending from D to A that was really good way to hear the minor third followed by major 3.that I could imitate that ..that was good to know..It appears to me that the note for a fifth down are the same
    as going up a fourth. So a C down a fifth would go down the notes C B A G F. The ascending fifth would be G C D E F G. Is that the way it's figured. I'll research that.. I realize that I'm more at home ascending intervals.

  44. Hi Julian I am not good in English…I have question
    Lascia ch'io pianga is played in f major / d minor but i saw it change modes to c major then go back to f major
    Now i get your concept i change it to play this song to c major .Am i right?(ฺbecause i always play many songs in c mjor)
    By the way,Now i think i have relative pitch but not mastered yet.I feel confusing when song change key such as fugue in g minor first time it play g d eb but almost end of this song it change to c minor c g ed….The point is if i mastered at relative pitch Do i know it changes notes(key)? g d eb is same melodic to c g ed.
    Today i start to play random scale F major Gmajor EBmajor Fmimor then i get nothing.(Or should i play C major in Mixolidian mode and end it in F note)
    Plaese suggest me some advice thank you.BEE

  45. Interesting approach. Then you need to be good at transporting your transcripions on the fly, isn't it?

    I transcribe every tune in its original key and then I learn it in all 12 keys but I do the transposition on the fly.

    This way I think of the degrees rather than of the chord or note name.

    That's how I learn the recurrent patterns and how y lear to use them by ear in a given key.

  46. Fortunately I did exactely what julien teaches in his ear training course…It was very very hard in the beginning but now I m proud of myself because I can transcribe songs without my instrument and it s so easy once you work hard and dive into his ear training!!

  47. Hallo! Im Defenantly going to try this. But my question is.
    I,m trying to be better att reading music and playing Chopin allot now. And his music is in many keys. How can i do? Shuld i learn the pice in the key that it is ritten and then transpose it to cm?. And if the key singnature changes in a song should i transpose that to cm as well what are your sugestion? Tanks allot fore your videos!
    and sorry for my bad spelling.

  48. And how do you know what the key of c minor sounds like. Cos you keep repeating that you hear the song in c minor, I kinda want to know how you do that.

  49. I used Cmin all my life, doing blues runs and the like. The layout of white and black notes seem to fit my hand better. But I've always reprimanded myself for sticking in the key of C. Many musicians online stress that we should learn all keys and modes and practice the things we find the most difficult. I would happily compose everything in C as it would make life a lot easier but is that really a good idea in the long term? Thanks for all your videos, by the way, a fantastic learning resource. All the best.

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