If you can’t afford to purchase full-featured ear-training or theory software applications, there are a variety of resources available for free on the internet.  These free resources may not have the sophistication, depth or administration facilities that a paid program Auralia has, but they could be good choices for schools with limited budgets, or for students to use at home.  Here are a few options:

1. Dolmetsch site

Part of the Dolmetsch Recorder website, this is an extensive music theory and history site.  The information is organised into 44 lessons which cover things like notes, time signatures, intervals, scales, timbre. Lessons 35-40 on different periods of music and lesson 28 is even dedicated to instrument fingering charts.  There’s a massive amount of information on this site and if you don’t want to work through all 44 lessons, you can jump to a specific area listed on the contents page or you can use the index.  There’s also a really useful dictionary.

2. Musictheory.net

Ricci Adams’ musictheory.net is a combination theory and ear-training site and was launched in the year 2000.  It’s has three areas:

  • Lessons – like reading a theory book on your screen.  Information is presented step-by-step.  Subjects include intervals, scales, key signatures and note and rest durations
  • Trainers – identify notes, keys, triads, intervals, chords, scales and more
  • Utilities – includes a staff paper generator, a 12 tone row matrix generator and a chord calculator

It’s a bit difficult to look through the content without sitting through all the lessons yourself first, but it’s definitely worth further investigation.

3. Good Ear

With a very plain browser-based interface, Good Ear allows you to set a few playback options on the right of your screen and then select a topic on left.  Make a selection from the sub-menu, listen to the exercise and select your answer from multiple choice options below.  Warning: you may be subjected to slightly annoying banner adverts, but they do seem to go away.

4. Big Ears

A plain and simple online interval trainer.

5. GNU Solfege

Ear training program that you can download from their website.  Solfege is more in-depth than some of the other free ear-training options and includes exercises for identifying intervals, chords, cadences, rhythms and scales.  Answers are submitted by clicking on buttons on screen, by using your computer keyboard or by tapping depending on the type of question.  Although there are also topics titled Sing Chord and Sing Interval, Solfege does not yet offer microphone support and the manual helpfully suggests that you should “decide yourself if you are correct or wrong”.

6. Teoria

An online theory and ear-training site.  There are a range of tutorials to work through (reading music, intervals, scales, chords, harmonic functions and musical forms) which are followed up by ear-training exercises.  In addition, there is an alphabetically arranged Reference section and some useful Articles on analysis and theory, instrumental teaching and music history (although this section is a little scant and the articles are mostly in Spanish only).

Do you use any of these free resources?  Are there other ones out there you find useful?

Image by hebedesign: I don’t want to hear this (Flickr)

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