IFR blog > Practice tips > Creating a new music practice > IFR video lesson sound map and instrument

IFR video lesson: Sound, Map and Instrument

In this free video lesson, I show you how you can learn to understand music by ear and to play the sounds you imagine using the "Sound, Map and Instrument" technique from Improvise for Real.

The key concept involves the use of a "tonal map" to visualize the location of each sound within the tonal octave. Every sound you have ever heard is one of just 12 notes in the octave. And since any melody can be played in any key, we don't need to worry about the exact pitches of the notes. We just need to notice how each note functions tonally. In other words, we just need to notice where each note is located on our tonal map.

In Improvise for Real, we use this tonal map concept as a bridge to connect these imagined sounds with notes that we can play on our instrument. First we learn to relate the sounds we hear to a visual map of the octave called the IFR Tonal Map. Then we learn to project this tonal map onto any key on our instrument. This is what enables IFR students to recognize melodies by ear and to play them in any key.

IFR solves all of these problems for you:

Understanding music by ear. IFR students are able to understand music by ear, recognizing both the chords and the melodies to the songs we hear. This doesn't require perfect pitch or any other unusual talent. It's something everyone can do because in fact this is how our ear already works. It's how we are able to appreciate music in the first place. We just need to discover for ourselves the sound of each note on the IFR Tonal Map, and then to notice these same sensations in the music all around us.

Transposing. The IFR Tonal Map also solves transposing because you simply project this tonal map onto any key on your instrument. Any song or melody that you learn to visualize on your tonal map becomes truly yours, and you can play it in any key you want. In fact, in IFR the whole idea of "transposing" doesn't even exist because your learning is not tied to any single key. We can always express any musical idea in any key we want.

Playing from your imagination. The most important benefit of this tonal approach to harmony is that it enables you to play directly from your imagination, expressing any sound or melody exactly as you hear it in your mind. Not only is this a great skill for any improviser to have, but it's also a beautiful experience that makes improvising both creative and personal, and very exciting.