How quickly can you hear the root note of a chord?
Being able to hear the root note of a chord is critical to hearing, understanding, and/or reharmonizing any chord progression.
Hear root notes, and you’ll be able to know and play the chords for any song.
How To Practice Hearing Root Notes
Technically, any bass note can serve as the root note of a chord. More often than not, the root note of a chord will depend upon the melody of the song and the amount of tension you are trying to accomplish.
Learn the melody of a song, and you will be able to manipulate the root note of it’s inherit chord progression.
Here are two effective ways to practice hearing root notes.
Sing A Melody
This practice will teach you how to hear the root note in relation to a melody.
- Choose a melody of a simple song that you already know.
- Isolate the first measure and sing just that.
- On your instrument, play a random note. Listen and feel how that note energizes the melody.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3, changing the note each time by a half step. You will find that some notes will energize the melody. For example, a melody note “F” may feel somewhat stable when a “Db” is played as the root note. That same melody note “F” may feel unstable when a “G” is played as the root note. When first starting, try to find the note that feels the most stable for the entire measure and choose that as your root note.
- After you’ve explored all of your note options for possible root notes for the first measure, isolate and sing the next measure.
- Explore your root note options for that measure. You may find, depending on your melody, that you may need to change your root note more than once within the measure. That’s okay.
- Continue until you’ve determined a root note for each measure of the melody.
Play a Chord
This practice teaches you to hear the root note in relation to a chord.
- Play a random chord.
- Sing a random root note. Listen and feel how that root note energizes the chord.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2, changing your root note each time. When first starting, try to find the note that feels the most stable for that chord. Choose that as your root note.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 with a different chord each time.
After you’ve become comfortable hearing root notes, you’ll be able to easily figure out any chord progression for any song. You’ll even be able to hear alternate root notes and reharmonize the entire chord progression more easily, because you will have learned how a root note can affect any chord and melody. Your decisions for possible root notes will become intentional based on the vibe you are tying to create.