Good Ear for Music

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Good Ear for Music


the ability to perceive various qualities of musical sounds, such as pitch, loudness, and timbre, and to sense the functional relations between sounds in a musical system and in musical compositions. The most important aspect of a good ear is general musicality, as reflected in emotional responsiveness to musical phenomena. A person who lacks this quality is not suited for musical composition and performance.

People who have a good ear for music may have absolute pitch, relative pitch, or a good inner, or mental, ear. Absolute pitch is the ability to identify notes immediately and give their sol-fa names without comparing them to a standard sound. Relative pitch is the ability to identify pitch relations and music intervals, such as seconds, thirds, and fourths. A person who has an inner ear for music is able to imagine and remember individual qualities of musical sounds, melodic and harmonic progressions, and entire pieces.

A good ear can be developed by practice. The solfège is a special exercise designed to promote its development.


Helmholtz, H. Uchenie o slukhovykh oshchushcheniiakh. … St. Petersburg, 1875. (Translated from German.)
Maikapar, S. M. Muzykal’nyi slukh, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1915.
Voprosy metodiki vospitaniia slukha (collection of articles; editor in chief A. K. Ostrovskii). Leningrad, 1967.
Nazaikinskii, E. V. O psikhologii muzykal’nogo vospriiatiia. Moscow, 1972.
Revesz, G. “Prüfung der Musikalität.” Zeitschrift für Psychologie, vol. 85, 1920.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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