Tuning In To, and Playing Back, Inner Voices

Once we’ve figured out melody and bass, there may be additional lines that seem important to add. As you might guess from the section above on bass lines, this skill relies on two foundations:

  1. The ability to train our attention on different parts of a musical texture, and
  2. Familiarity with how the kind of line we’re transcribing tends to work.

So there’s not really anything new to teach here; instead, simply practice your attentional focus exercises, and learn as much about the style you’re working with as possible. For example, the more you work with bluegrass harmonizing, the better you’ll be able to guess what a harmonizing line is doing; the same is true of fugue countersubjects.


Activity: Playing back inner voices

Goal: Replicate inner voices

Before you start: A non-voice instrument is recommended; voice will also work.

Instructions: Listen to the songs in the playlist below. Each one has at least one prominent line/voice that has some melodic identity but is not the main melody or the bass. Listen to the first 1–2 phrases, identifying and trying to follow that inner voice. Optionally try to sing along. Then try to play or sing the inner voice independently. Optionally, either perform both the melody and the countermelody together on your instrument or perform multiple parts (melody, countermelody, bass, chords) with a group.


Suggest a song for this playlist!


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Foundations of Aural Skills Copyright © 2022 by Timothy Chenette is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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