An aspiring jazz trumpet player's blog about jazz improvisation and ear training.

January 26, 2008 Ear Training 42 Comments

Ear training tool - version 2.0

Online ear trainer - click to try!This post lists all of the updates I've made to the latest version of my ear training tool. The ear training tool is free to use and contains exercises for intervals, chords, random melodies, call-and-response, jazz improvisation, and more!


If you'd like to learn more about the importance of ear training, especially for jazz improvisers, please read my Learning To Improvise - Introduction and Learning To Improvise - Ear Training articles. Also, the ear trainer itself contains a lot more information.


UPDATE 3/10/13 - Random melodies now includes diminished and altered scale options.

UPDATE 10/25/12 - The ear training tool now saves most (if not all) of the settings from your previous session, so you won't have to re-check your interval, chord, etc options every time you use the ear trainer. Also, Mac users with Java version 7 or above will now use a higher-quality MIDI soundbank.

UPDATE 1/24/12 - Random melodies no longer repeat notes sequentially unless you only have two notes to choose from. I added dozens of scale patterns to the random melody feature. There's a new jazz blues progression on the RSection tab and you can now generate random chord progressions of mixed chord types. For example, if you select one of the "Mixed..." options under the RSection "Randomization" menu, it will generate a single sequence that includes random keys and progression types like "C7 Eb-7 F Bb-7b5" etc. I also tried to fix some of the Mac OSX audio issues, but my research and tinkering suggests that the Java runtime's MIDI sequencer isn't reliable on Macs right now, especially with the long sequences generated by the RSection tab.

UPDATE 4/10/10 - My iPhone ear training application, Play By Ear, saves the various settings after you use the ear trainer. I've become used to that and whenever I return to my online ear training application, it feels tedious to always have to set the key center, the play mode, and some of the other basic options. Well, as of today that's no longer the case! The main options that you set every time are now stored in a cookie so I can recover them on your next visit. I also added some new keyboard commands so you can now press ">" to play the next exercise, "<" to stop, "m" to do a melodic repeat, and "n" to do a harmonic repeat. That was requested in the comments by Sam.

UPDATE 9/12/09 - Thanks to a suggestion from Jean-Francois, the starting cadence now has a "Follow Exercise Key" option. When selected, the ear training tool will play a major cadence in whatever key the next exercise is about to use.

UPDATE 7/26/09 - I added "drop 2" to the inversions shown on the chords tab thanks to the suggestion from a guitarist named Rod. Drop 2 chords move the second highest note of 4-note chords to bottom of the chord voicing.

UPDATE 5/10/09 - I added some new modulation options to the ear training tool's Advanced tab. The new random cycle feature works like the existing Circle of Fourths & Fifths features, however you now have random movement and a shorter 3-time option. I also added a few more tunes to the "Simple Song" option under the Melodies tab.

UPDATE 4/28/09 - The RSection's chord progressions now include Randomization within a single exercise. For example, you could setup randomization so every 4 measures the key changes randomly to one of your selected "Keys To Play." This is a great workout for your ears as you try to improvise over randomly changing chords.

UPDATE 3/15/09 - The ear training tool's Random Melody feature now includes a chromatic scale option which includes more note options (higher and lower notes) than if you select individual notes.

UPDATE 2/6/09 - I added "Cherokee" to the RSection's list of chord progressions.

UPDATE 1/2/09 - I've had several requests for altered chords and finally got around to adding some to the ear trainer. You'll find the new ones on the online version of the ear trainer, on the "Chords" tab.

UPDATE 6/1/08 - As requested by Svetlana, the ear trainer's interval and chord samples now obey your "Root Note" settings. This allows you to specify a specific root note for all of the samples, or you can have random root notes if you select the "Any" option.

UPDATE 5/25/08 - Thanks to a suggestion from George, you can now click on interval and chord names to play a sample. Each sample will adhere the settings you specified in the ear training tool options. For example, if you click on "Perfect 5th" and you have the "Sequence Type" set to "Harmonic" the ear trainer will play the interval harmonically (both notes at the same time).

UPDATE 3/2/08 - I just added cycle-based modulation to my ear training tool. Cycle-based modulation will play the existing exercise over and over again, changing keys through the cycle of 4th's or 5th's. I recommend that you try this with random melodies, jazz licks, and simple song exercises (all under the Melodies tab). By playing the same exercise through a circle of 4th's/5th's, you're challenging yourself to play something by ear, but you're also giving your ears a chance to become familiar with the new melody, thus making the exercise a little easier. You'll find the new cycle-based modulation option on the Advanced tab of the ear training tool.

UPDATE 1/27/08 - I've been meaning to add compound intervals to the ear training tool for a while now, but George's comment today finally made it happen. You'll now see a new "Compound" checkbox on the intervals page!

UPDATE 1/26/08 - I added a "Starting Cadence" feature to my ear training tool (online version only for the time being). Several people have asked for this feature because it gives a reference point from which other notes can be identified. It also allows you to hear intervals, melodies, etc, within a key. You'll see the "Starting Cadence" dropdown on the "Controls" panel. If you don't want to use the cadence, simply set it to None.


UPDATE 12/25/07 - I added about a dozen more simple songs to the ear training tool's random melody feature. That makes a total of 72 different simple song melodies! You can access these by selecting "Key for simple song" under the "Each box is a..." dropdown on the "melodies" tab.

UPDATE 11/4/07 - Version v2_22 introduces simple song melody exercises to my ear training tool. Right now there are about 25 different simple song melodies that will randomly play, but it's my goal to eventually have over 100! You'll find the new simple song melody option in the "Each box is a..." dropdown located on the Melodies tab. I'll update the offline version of the ear trainer once this new version has had a few solid days of testing.

UPDATE 9/8/07 - Version v2_21 of the ear training tool adds three new features. The first new feature is the ability to change the octave range of the exercises. The new octave options appear in the "Key Center" drop-down. This is particularly useful for bass players and other people wishing to expand the lower (or higher) ranges of their ear training. The second new feature is the ability to toggle between treble and bass clef in the staff. To do so, click on the little blue arrow icon located near the treble/bass clefs. When necessary, "8va" or "8vb" will display beneath the clefs. This lets you know that the notes shown on the staff are being played one or more octaves higher (8va) or lower (8vb) than the staff notation. The third new feature is the addition of Major7th jazz licks for call-and-response exercises.

UPDATE 7/8/07 - Version v2_20 of the ear training tool includes Major7th jazz licks as well as a few more Dominant 7th jazz licks.

UPDATE 6/25/07 - Version v2_19 of the ear trainer contains a lot of little updates and one big update. The little updates are mostly GUI-related, so you'll probably find them on your own. The big update is the introduction of jazz licks to both random melodies and the rhythm section's call-and-response feature. Also, you can now select between a short and long call-and-respnose phrase. So far I've only got Dominant 7th jazz licks going, but I'm definitely going to add licks to Major, Minor, Half-Diminished, and Diminished chord types. This will be an ongoing process, so you can expect a lot of "jazz lick" updates in the coming months.

If you've got some jazz licks handy, feel free to send them over. If I think they're suitable for the ear training tool and for the audience of this site, I'll definitely put them in. For inclusion with the ear training tool, they should be 2 measures of eigth notes followed by a single note and the key should be clearly labeled. Also, the lick shouldn't be over a progression, but rather a single chord type (one of the following: CMaj7, C7, CMin7, C7b5, CDim). Here's an example of what I'm looking for (I used finale notepad for this):

jazz lick sample

UPDATE 5/19/07 - I added interaction between a computer keyboard and the ear trainer's piano. The various keys to press are now shown on the ear trainer's piano. If for some reason you want to disable keyboard interaction, you can do so under the ear trainer's advanced tab.

UPDATE 4/8/07 - I made a few changes to the ear trainer's rhythm section feature today, including a slightly modified layout and some new chord/progression types. New chord/progression types include Half-Diminished 7th, Diminished 7th, Minor II-V7-I, and Minor Blues. Some of these additions are in response to visitor requests, so thank you to all who have helped improve the tool. I haven't had much time to test yet, so please let me know if you run into any problems.

UPDATE 1/24/07 - This past weekend I added a new call and response feature to my ear trainer. I've been using it for a couple of days now and I think it's worth sharing with all of you...

The new feature offers note-limiting call and response with randomly generated rhythms and melodies (there's a new drop-down menu on the RSection tab). When I get a chance, I'll record a clip or two of me practicing along with it, but for now you can listen to examples of similar call and response exercieses in my LEARNING TO IMPROVISE - RHYTHM article. Those clips are done by me with an Aebersold, but they should give you a general idea of how to practice with this new feature.

I have a lot more planned for these sorts of call and response activities. So much so that I'll probably end up creating a new tab just to contain it all. I'll also make it easier to use and control.

UPDATE 1/14/07 - Fixed issue where random melodies were playing notes outside of selected scales. The online and offline versions has been updated with this latest version.

UPDATE 12/5/06 - Fixed issue where Root Note option no longer worked for intervals and chords.

UPDATE 12/2/06 - I've had a few people ask if they can download and run the ear trainer when they're offline. As of today, the answer is YES! Just DOWNLOAD THIS FILE, then unzip and open home.htm.

UPDATE 11/19/06 - Fixed several more bugs, including issues where wide modulations went too high or low. I've now successfully tested the new ear trainer in Firefox 1.0.x (Linux), Firefox 1.5.x (Win, OSX, Linux), Firefox 2.0 (Win), Opera 8.5. (Win), Safari, IE6 (Win), IE7 (Win). Please let me know if you have any problems with different (yet still widely-used) browsers.

UPDATE 11/19/06 - I just added some audio files to my ear trainer 2.0 page. The audio files were recorded during various parts of my daily ear training routine. Hopefully they'll give you a better idea of how I use the ear trainer to practice. Additionally, there are some new auto-configure links next to each audio file which will setup the ear trainer to play the same exercise you hear in the clip.

Also worth mentioning is the new ear training home page. I created it for anyone who wants to link to my ear training tools. On the landing page, you'll see links to both ear training tools, descriptions of each tool, and some background information about ear training.

UPDATE 11/11/06 - Fixed a couple of bugs and added II-V7-I progressions to the rhythm section feature.

UPDATE 10/28/06 - I fixed a couple stability problems that occur when the applet first loads. I can't say for certain, but it might even fix the problem with Firefox 1.0.x. I've also noticed that the rhythm section feature seems a lot smoother under version 1.5.x of the Java JRE than it sounds in 1.4.x. 1.4.x may sound a little choppy...

UPDATE 10/10/06 - A few people have reported that it does in fact work in Firefox on OSX, at least with Firefox 1.5.x. The one instance where it didn't work in Firefox and OSX, the person was using Firefox 1.0.3, so maybe it was just an issue with that early version of Firefox.

UPDATE 10/4/06 - I've heard from a few people that the new ear trainer does work properly with Safari browsers. Apparently there is an issue with Firefox on OSX, however. If you happen to have OSX and a Firefox browser, please give it a try and let me know how it works.

Tonight I also added blues and rhythm changes! I still need to work on the piano part to get it smoother for rhythm changes (especially with leaps in range), but I think the bass is sounding pretty good...

10/1/06 - Today I finished version 2.0 (BETA) of my Ear Trainer. It's hot off the press and lightly tested, so some bugs are to be expected. Also, I've only tested on IE6 (Win), Firefox 1.5.x (Win and Linux), and Opera 8.5 (Win), so I have no idea how well it works in Safari and other browsers.

There are quite a few little new features, and one big one, which I'll let you find for yourself. Please give it a try and let me know if you run into any problems.

I'm running safari and it seems to work well for me. Good job! Hope to see some post updates soon as well!

Comment by Mark Williams

Could run previous versions through Mac OSx and Firefox but not this one. (Will load everything but the top section) Working fine through Safari. Keep up the great work, nice additions.

Comment by Chris Menosky

Hi there... I'm running Firefox version on OSX and the new version seems to work just fine for me (also seems OK on Safari 1.3.2). Great job... this is a fantastic tool! Really appreciate your hard work on this-

Comment by Tim Hart

This is an amazing tool for ear training! well done! I have been using it in my daily practice routine. The only thing that I would suggest incorperating into it is more of a rhythmic element. It would be nice if different rhythm concepts could be incorperated into the melodic recognition section. Other than that, I'm impressed!


Comment by Jp

Love the new call & response feature! It's a great addition. I was using it on Safari and except for the occasional drop-out, it was lots of fun. I'm sure I'll be using it alot.

Comment by Zach

Thanks so much for making this. After a few years of jazz improv I realized that my real problem is that I have a terrible ear and can never play the ideas I'm hearing in my head. This tool has already helped so much in doing that in just the few times I've used it. I am forever indebted.

Hi !

I want say you that, far from I have begun to use regularly yours player I have improved remarkablly my level of ear training. Only disadvantage - NOW I ear the 'wrong-notes' too much ;)))

Comment by Nathan

I really have a passion for jazz. I am in my second year of high school, just got into our top jazz band. I was wondering if in the next release if you could add the trombone into your ear training program? Because now I hear the notes on the piano, but it takes me a while to figure which notes they are because they are in treble cleft.

Great Program!

Comment by Rick

Hi Nathan,

I just added your request for bass clef to the version 2_21 of the ear training tool. You can read more about it in the update notes from 9/8/2007.

Thanks for the suggestion!


This is a fantastic idea. My ears are pretty good but far from perfect - as you know, there's always room for improvement. I hope you continue to develop this excellent learning resource. I'll definitely recommend it to my pupils and will be linking to you from my site. Have already placed a link at del.icio,us


Comment by Mike Lodge

wow, I'm deeply impressed by this site. Amazing control over the features and i feel like I'm making real progress. I'm so glad I stumbled upon this site. Keep it real and keep it free

Well done.

Comment by George Russell

Great program, dude. In my fantasy world, the intervals would go on up into the next octave, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths. Any chance of that happening?

Comment by Rick

Hi George,

Thanks for the suggestion. As you'll notice the next time you use the online ear trainer, compound intervals have now been added!


Comment by George Russell

Wow. The best just got better. Thanks.

Comment by sergio

I really like your applet... and your blog is a great resource.

Maybe it would be possible to port iyour ear training apps to mobile java so people can practise on their cell phones...

Is it open sourced?

Anyways I released some very basic ear training games for mobile, check them out if you like... (http://pitchpocket.blogspot.com/)

they are free and will always be free, I'll release the code soon...

Comment by Tim MB

Hi Rick

This is amazing! I've been trying to do some composition and I generally find the main problem is that as soon as I hear the sound from a real instrument it shatters whatever was going on in my head, so I figure I need to learn to write straight to paper without a keyboard.

Small feature request - would it be possible (to assist with sight-singing exercises) to delay the interval name and just show the notes on the score (something I've been doing already by scrolling down in the webpage. Also, could we have the option to have random key signatures with this too so I can improve my ability to read intervals.

Keep up the great work!


Comment by Rick

@Sergio: I'll follow up with you via email, but the short answer is that there is no phone version mostly due to lack of demand and due to the fact that it would have so fewer features.

@Tim: Thanks for the suggestions. I can't promise to add them to the ear training tool, but I'll definitely keep them in mind when making future updates.

Thank you both for writing and I'm glad you're enjoying the ear training tool!


Comment by George

This is a brilliant tool.

Can I make a suggestion? In the interval tab, there could be little buttons next to each interval name, clicking on the button would sound an example of that interval. Would be very useful for learning the intervals.

Very good though.



Comment by Rick

Hi George,

I spent some time working on the ear training tool this weekend and I'm pleased to report that your suggestion is now online! Thank you for the great suggestion and for your interest in the ear trainer.


First, thank you so much for this great application! It feels almost ungrateful to request any more from you, when you've already done so much.

But, now that great new example feature got me spoiled, so I'd like to take it one step further: It would be nice if the example started on a different cadence every time, randomly. That is, it would be identical to hitting "Play" over and over again, with just that interval checked.

While I'm at it, there's a couple other, much more complicated things that would be nice to see but would probably take much longer to add...and which I should probably program myself instead of suggesting to you. Here goes, anyway:

- Examples of the interval association songs such as "Here Comes The Bride", "Happy Birthday" etc....I've been trying to play them myself on the little keyboard thing you have up in the upper right corner, but I can't figure out the notes for most of them

Which brings me to the next feature:

- If the keyboard in the upper right corner was expanded so that all keys were playable from qwerty, perhaps even in a configurable correspondence. (I am trying to write something of that sort based on your example, we'll see how far I get with it).

Comment by Ariel

I just wanted to say thank you so much for making this program, it is a great help to me!! Really amazing, thanks :)

Comment by Ruud

Great indeed, just wanted to thank you for this incredible tool: since I discovered it I've been practicing with great improvements. Thank you! Ruud, Italy.

Comment by Attila

This is a fantastic one and still free. :) Congratulations!

One question.

I'm looking for an ear training application for my phone but I haven't found any. After that I saw in the posts someone asked if there was a kind of mobile version of your software. You said no such version existed. Is there maybe a change in this topic? It would be so cool to sharp ears anytime during the day in this way.

Thanks for the whole thing anyway!

Best wishes



Comment by Chris

Let me first say what an amazing tool this is. It is easily the best online music tool I've ever seen.

That being said, I would love it if the correct keys on the keyboard would light up upon activation of the "Repeat" buttons. As a pianist I would love to condition my ear to hear intervals/chords as I look at the keys, and I feel such a change would greatly enhance that ability.

Still a phenomenal tool, though, and I thank you for your hard work in making this available.

Hi, thank you so much for your wonderful ear training tool, it's the best one that I've seen online! You have a really nice site too: I can see all the love for jazz! Keep up the great work!

Comment by Carmel Doherty

Just wanted to say thanks again for your amazing site and in particular for the ear trainer tool. I've been working with it fairly regularly over the past three months and it's helping enormously.

I really like the way you constantly update your site by the way.

And congratulations on the progess you are making.

All the best,


Comment by Sean


I was wondering if there is a way to restrict the range of the notes that are being played by the midi piano, so it is easier to sing along...



Comment by Rick

Hi Sean,

There are a few options which will help you control the range... The "Key Center" option shows not only various keys but also octaves. Perhaps a specific key/octave combination will produce a more comfortable range for you. You can also control which notes are produced when working with the "Melodies" exercises. Lastly, if the notes are too high or low, you could always transpose them up/down and octave when singing. That's what I do when playing the exercises back on my trumpet. If a note is too high, I just play it down an octave.

I don't know if the above will give you exactly what you're looking for, but hopefully it will help.


Comment by Rhys

Hi Rick,

I have to say thank you for spending the time that you do on this website. Websites of this high standard (Regular updates, Quality articles with super informative info, simple yet attractive layout etc) aren't out there enough. Then there is the ear trainer!!!! The importance of ear training in my daily practice can be contributed to this gem of a tool, and the fine articles on the topic. so thank you for that!!! I dig Jazz now too!!! (I'm a classical/rock/now a jazz guitarist)

A suggestion for the trainer - hopefully i sucked up enough :).

Would the possibility of including in the random melodies section an option for melodies in two parts i.e A down to B

E down to G

Perfect 5th moving down to a Major 3rd etc.

Harmonic Interval melodies. I have classical aural tests were a section is always based on singing the higher or lower note in two part progressions and i believe it would be a great addition to the trainer.

If i have explained that well at all.

Thanks again for all the work put in!

Comment by Leo


I just found your program online! I am done with all of my musicianship classes for University, but I want to keep training and get better.

Anyhow, I think it is wonderful that there are people like you, who put all this work into a program and then share it.

Thank you so much! Wishing you the best for your career, Leo

Comment by ken

WOW....GREAT TOOL...I Remember back in the early 80's taking ear training in college. I wish this tool you have created would have been aound. Fantastic. Keep up the great work. This is really a blessing !!!


Comment by sam

amazing tool, i cant thank you enough for this ! i use it every day !

would be amazing tho if you could add short cut keyboard keys to the play, repeat and stop buttons

thanks again !

I love this ET tool (and your iphone app), though it does not work for me through Google Chrome on a Mac.

Comment by Rick

@Sam: That's a good suggestion. I'll try to add it the next time I work on this ear training tool.

@Brendan: Unfortunately, Google Chrome for Macs doesn't support java applets yet. I would expect them to support java at some point, but I guess this is partly what makes it a "beta" browser. Here's one of several threads where people discuss the lack of java: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Chrome/thread?tid=070bbdb56c78099a&hl=en


Comment by tomas

Thank you.

Just want to say: thank you.


You've made a difference with your site and eartraining tools.




PS:thanks, again.

Comment by Ari Gagne

When I try to run your website thru my digi003 to external speakers there is buzzing sounds and the sounds don't come out right? I'm running on Mac, other website sounds work fine? Anyone else pose this issue.




Comment by Gadi

Hi Rick,

I've become an avid user of your little applet, which has what many more complex products lack - ease of use, and leaves most of the actual work to us, which is just what is needed. Thanks for putting in the effort.

One small gripe though - when selecting intervals or chords via the check-boxes - the "all" check-box remains checked even when one begins to uncheck some boxes, and I've countless times unchecked half of the chords only to have them continue to appear because the "all" is checked. I then uncheck the "all" and all of the check-boxes are cleared, and I have to check all the boxes I want all over again. Not the most awful of things, but a slight GUI fix to where when you uncheck a single box the "all" box becomes unchecked as well will make the applet more in line with how check-boxes work in other programs/sites.

Once again, though, thanks for the wonderful applet!

Comment by wd

A greater space between the first and second notes of an interval would be helpful in allowing the student to "grab"

the starting note and commit it to aural memory. Your site is impressive - thank you.

Comment by Jason

Great ear training tool. Wiould be good if you added an option to play a chord then show an interval(note) and the user has to sing(hum) the note then the webiste plays the note eg:

play a C major chord then on screen say Major 9th

The user has to hum the 9th against the chord.

Then website plays the 9th note.

Any idea... Good for when a player is comping hearing what note soloist is playing against a chord.

Comment by Daniel

First of all, I would like to say thank you so much for this amazing ear training tool! I use it every single day and I can feel my brain rewiring itself; music is becoming much more accessible.

I think something that could be added, however,(which is something so crucial for ear training that I can't find anywhere without paying money for) would be an ear training tool for identifying progressions. Such as having three chords play and be able to identify as (II-V-I), but with every degree of course. I think this would really help complete this tool, because as I said, this is an extremely crucial skill to have.

I really don't know much about programming or creating that but if it wouldn't be too difficult, I would appreciate it forever! Thanks anyway for all the help anyway!

Comment by Frank

What a great ear training tool! I want to thank you for providing the ear trainer that currently works best for me. I tend to hear (I'm probably not alone) in the context of the underlying scale being played. With your trainer, I can select the scale, choose my tempo, select how many notes I want to identify and repeat. I started at the slowest tempo and I'm happy with the progress I've made (though I've got a long way to go still). I was previously under the impression that I needed to learn to identify intervals before going on to melodic dictation - after all, every ear trainer I've seen pretty much starts off like that. Boy, was I mistaken! I just needed to start at a slow enough tempo and get my ear accustomed to the scale tones I was hearing - your tool was the ONLY one I tried that had that option.

If possible, I'd like to request the addition of other common scales/modes in the Melodic Dictation section drop down, e.g. natural minor, melodic minor, harmonic minor, lydian, mixolydian, phrygian, phrygian dominant.

Keep up the great work and thanks again for providing such a valuable tool.

Comment by David

Great tool! After several years of being a professional musician and learning addict, i've found this application to be one of the most valuable tools i've ever used (beside my bass ;)

it would be awesome to have a windows aplication (.exe) for this

Thanks for such valuable tool, keep up the good work.

greetings from Argentina

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