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Tutorial #3: Melodic Dictation

Ahh… melodic dictation, the crux of what we’re doing here today. Have no fear. If you can sing it, you can dictate it. It’s time to discern the pitch of that rhythm you counted out in the last tutorial. There are tools and apps that can help you out here, but I think training your ear is key. Therefore, we’re going to use our ears and a handy dandy keyboard (or keyboard app). If you’re using notation software, it most likely plays the note through your speaker when you click on the staff. This can easily work as your keyboard.

  1. Sing the first note of your melodic line. Now play a note on your keyboard. Is it higher or lower than the note you’re singing? This gives you an indication of which direction to move (unless you hit your note dead on, in which case GO YOU!).
  2. Move higher or lower until you are matching pitch with the keyboard. Ta-da! You’ve found your first note! The hard part is officially over! Move your notation to indicate the correct pitch.
  3. Now that you have a starting point, it should get easier to find each subsequent note. Is it higher or lower than the note that came before? Maybe a short sequence of notes repeats itself. You can always default to singing each individual note and finding it on the keyboard.
  4. It goes without saying, but listen to your source recording often. Every few measures, listen to your notation and gauge your progress. Is the rhythm still accurate? Are the notes right? Did you get that accidental?
  5. Tackle your one melodic line chunk by chunk until it is complete. Congratulations! In my opinion, it only gets easier from here.

melodic 1


What about you?