In order to have a more grounded and global sense of Major tonality, Music Learning Theory dictates that we must learn contrasting tonalities as a means of comparison.
Rather than learn these tonalities by going to a music theory textbook to figure out that, for example, Dorian has a lowered third, a raised sixth, and a lowered seventh, a better way to start is to learn simple songs in each of the tonalities. This provides you with an audiation crutch, so to speak, to ground you in each tonality.
I have created 8 Etunes (a play on the words etude and tune) to assist you in getting each tonality into your audiation. The Etunes represent all 8 tonalities and 5 different meters.
Steps to Audiation:
1. Listen. Listen. Listen.
2. Tap your heels or step to the BIG BEAT. (Music Learning Theory calls this the Macrobeat.) Although where specifically the Big Beat is can be subjective, I make it pretty obvious where I think it is by accenting it with a specific percussion sound.
3. Next, pat your hands on your lap to the LITTLE BEAT. (Music Learning Theory calls this the Microbeat.) Again, this can be subjective, but I indicate with percussion where I deem the little beats to be.
4. Can you do steps 2 and 3 together?
5. Determine the Resting Tone of each Etune. Each song ends on the Resting Tone. Listen to the other notes in the song in relation to the Resting Tone.
6. Sing along with the song.
7. There are specific times in each track when the melody disappears. Try to sing it by yourself. If you cannot, you have not listened enough. Go back to Step 1.
8. Listen to the Bass Line. Each Etune follows typical harmonic progressions in each tonality. Sing along with the Bass Line.
9. There are specific times when the Bass Line drops out. Try to sing it by yourself. If you cannot, go back to step 8.
10. If possible, find a musician friend (or, better yet, a few friends) to learn these songs with. Perform them in various combinations to Melody, Bass, Rhythm, Harmony. Improvise a harmony line.
Check out the Etunes Playlist Here:
Andy Mullen is a teacher, folk musician, multi-instrumentalist, recovering songwriter, and lifelong learner. He has taught all levels of students in a number of subjects, and is currently a middle school teacher and curriculum coach in Burlington, Massachusetts. Mr Mullen holds Masters degrees in Music Education and School Administration, as well as certification from the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML) in Elementary General and Early Childhood Music. He is currently entertaining Doctoral scholarships.