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Sound Design Training and Daily Ear Training Exercises

When you hear of ear training in music schools you may get images of classical orchestra music compositions or trying to guess what note an electronic beep is.. at least that’s what I used to think ear training was.

However, ear training has become almost as exciting for me as music production. I firmly believe we have ear training exercises and sound design training opportunities around us in every moment that will take your music production to the next level. The challenge is recognizing them and then learning how to put them into action.

Here are 3 unique ear training exercises and sound design training assignments to grow your ears and ultimately take your sound design and music production to the next level.

1) Listen to Pandora 
Pick a style and get a feel for how long the songs are, analyze the arrangement, listen to the patterns of melody, drum patterns, tempo, seasoning and all other details that give that style its name. The goal is to listen and develop a running tab of tricks in the back of your mind to experiment on in each new music production. This is a conscious way to develop your unique style.

How do you develop your music production style?
-Blend your own version of everything you enjoy listening to into a technically sound and professionally expressed ‘radio master’.
-Study the greats and everyone in between until the subtleties of your style naturally emerge. You’ll learn by hearing what details make your favorites, great. It could be a signature drum sound, vocal sound or anything in between.

2) Listen to Classical Music:
Bach, Mozart or any of the classical music greats provide an immense source for melodies and instrumentation composition. One classical music composition probably contains 20+ pop song melody ideas and bass lines.

There are two types of music listening:
1) Enjoyment, relaxing times, set the mood whatever that may be.
2) ‘Feed your creative artist ear candy’ that makes you want to lock yourself in the studio for 24 hours.

When you feed on classical music, moments later new ideas naturally brew when you show up to create music.

3) Listen to BT (Brian Transeau):
BT is considered the Beethoven, Bach and Mozart of Electronic Music in our day. His sound design, music production, melodies and mixture with organic instrumentation will blow your producer mind and get you inspired to vibe. Words don’t do his music justice. BT was playing piano by age 2, studying composition at the Washington Conservatory of Music by age 7 and going to Berklee School of Music by 15.

He has also built a company that has developed an iPhone application, Sonifi™, which is the first application for a mobile device that users can create, collaborate, effect and save remixes of a song in real time. Sonifi is the environment to release artists songs for end users to create their own audio and visual mixes (His numerous other achievements listed below).

My point?
He is a mad scientist music producer, sound designer, composition and technology genius..

The ultimate ear training exercise and sound design training is listening to music that changes your perspective to give you a freedom and an awareness of the many possibilities you have laid out before you every day to create music.

Your 3 Sound Design Training and Ear Training Exercises:
1) Once a day or week, spend 10-15 minutes on focused listening on music outside of your ‘comfort zone’. When you get to the studio, experiment with what you heard. Go for sounds, options you wouldn’t normally reach for.
2) Study the length, melodies, drums and sound choices. If a song is a hit, why? Is the song ‘Really’ that good, was it good marketing or both..why?
3) Put it in action. At some point you need to take a break from study and apply what you learn. Try emulating sounds. The goal isn’t to emulate or copy but instead to experiment and push through to new sound possibilities.

If there is anything we can help you with, setup a free training consultation below.


More on BT (Brian Transeau):

He is considered the Pioneer of Trance Music and also created the common ‘glitch’ music production effect widely used today. His music ranges from Trance to Hip Hop/Breakbeats. BT has produced and written for artists such as Peter Gabriel, N_Sync, Sting, Blake Lewis, Tori Amos and Tiesto. As a film composer he has worked on films such as The Fast and the Furious and Monster. He has also performed his Laptop Symphony where he does live remixing on the fly to hundreds of thousands around the world.

He from my understanding is also one of the first artists to release an album in 5:1 surround, on cd, on dvd and in movie theaters around the U.S. (this binary universe).

BT – These Hopeful Machines

This is his newest work. 2 CD set, 12 songs.
Great example of an eb and flow of creation, buildups, breakdowns, letting music breathe amongst ‘I don’t know where to start explaning’ programming and sound design.

BT – This Binary Universe

“In a hundred years, it could well be studied
as the first major electronic work of the new millennium. It’s that good….”

I am still learning new things after listening to this for 4 years! 🙂


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Funny, I’ve done all of these things, and still practice them. I’m happy I stumbled on this, well, found it on a friends status. All of these are completely true. I used to compose classical music on finale in middle school, and switched to house. It was fun to do, because all the melodies you think up, come from your past knowledge, and experience in music.

I’ve played jazz, 8 different instruments, been in top band in my high school, go into rock, punk, electro, classical, ambient through out the years. If you have that musical base of understanding length, style, and character of different songs and genres, then you’ll be set to express your ideas.

Producing the best music can be a night mare to many producers. Awesome post.

The information you have provided here is really great i like it very much……thanks ….great job

Hey there! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the good job!