Over the summer I worked my way through Fux's strict counterpoint and am trying to write fugues without the aid of any instrument or computer. I have some ear training up to the point where I can hear and sing a modulating melody in my head upon first sight relatively well, but composing multiple lines for me essentially boils down to hearing both lines separately and hoping they sound good together. I can manually check the implied harmonies of each interval, but ideally I would like to improve my ability to hear multiple lines at once.

Does anyone know of a method to improve your ability to hear multiple lines in your head?

1 Answer 1


Practice, practice, practice.

The most effective sort of practice for me is to practice with two-voice counterpoint by playing one line while singing the other. Then switch. Then move on to three voices, and so on. Sometimes I'll sing the viola part of an orchestral piece, singing along with a recording, then I'll go back to the beginning and sing the second violin part while also following the viola part.

But for starters, just try a simple round like Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Three Blind Mice, or Frère Jacques. How many voices can you play along with yourself as you sing one voice?

Start by emphasizing singing aloud rather than in your head. The ability to hear it in your head without singing aloud will follow if you cultivate it.

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