Got this ear training app. And I was wondering what to listen to when hearing chord progressions? How the app work is simple, it first play I-V-I progression in random keys, then proceeds to play a random chord between I-VII which I have to guess.

The problem is I can't distinguish if it's playing a IIm, IIIm or VIm. Other chords are fine, but these 3 minors are hard. Am I suppose to listen for the chord function?

I see some people talk about the root. That dosent work here, since the chords jumps randomly up and down the entire register. Also not to mention inversions and rootless chords

  • Is there no way to adjust the level or difficulty of the app? It’s a big jump from I-V-I to rootless chords and inversions in different ranges. Also as Tim mentioned, knowing what the app is might help in getting a more detailed answer. May 14, 2023 at 13:15
  • Complete ear trainer. And yes I can adjust difficulty to turn off inversions and rootless. I was just wondering how I were meant to recognise the different degrees. I think many just use the root and sorta interval the root? But does that work with rootless inverted? So I can just train myself to listen for the function of the degree? May 14, 2023 at 14:41
  • Having and using an ear training app is all very well. What instrument you play will have a bearing on your ear training though.
    – Tim
    May 14, 2023 at 18:29

3 Answers 3


Without knowing exactly what level you have achieved in ear training and based on your comment I have a few recommendations.

To me a very important key to developing ear training is to learn to hear and recognize intervals really well. That includes intervals of notes played one after the other and also intervals of notes played simultaneously.

This will lead to being able to recognize the qualities of triads in root position. Learn the difference between major, minor, diminished and augmented triads. Also learn to identify what the lowest note is.

Use your interval knowledge to try and identify the intervals of the bass movement from one triad to another. To me the easiest way to identify chord progressions is to hear the interval of the root movement then the qualities of the chords above them.

Gradually expand to hearing and recognizing seventh chords and inversions at your own pace, but do each one individually.

Finally and most importantly, play a chording instrument and actually practice playing, listening closely to and learning the sounds of the various intervals, chords and chord progressions. You will be surprised at your ability to recognize sounds when you have already played some of them yourself. Good luck!


Seems like that app is not a good fit yet. Find one which simply uses root position chords, until you get used to the sound. Then progress to a slightly more advanced one.

It may help to share exactly which app it is, so we can check it out as suitable or not for your stage. There are several similar questions here about chord recognition, which may also be of help.


I'm going to second the recommendation to find a simpler ear training app. Recognizing chords regardless of inversion and in random order is fairly advanced. Regardless...

Ear training took a while for me to get the hang of. What my Aural Skills professor taught me was a simple way to train for chord identification, though keep in mind, just like any skill it takes regular practice.

First, begin with tonicization if possible within the app you use. I highly recommend learning solfege for this. If you don't already know solfege or can't dictate melodies, work on that first. Chords are far more advanced.

At the beginning of a piece I want to notate chords for, I use the pattern Do-Mi-Sol-La-Sol-Fa-Re-Ti-Do for major keys.

When a chord is being played, try to match (singing or playing) the solfege pattern of chords to whatever chord is being played. The tonic, for example, is Do-Mi-Sol. Memorizing the solfege for each chord is incredibly beneficial.

It is also imprtant to note that for Ear Training, most chords are played in inversions that lend to being played simply on a keyboard.

Here's a "chart" to help.

I: Do-Mi-Sol

ii: Re-Fa-La

iii: Mi-Sol-Ti

IV: Fa-La-Do

V: Sol-Ti-Re

vi: La-Do-Mi

vii°: Ti-Re-Fa

And that will bring us back to Do-Mi-Sol ;)

While certainly more complex than simply learning to recognize chords on their own, this method is far more comprehensive and prevents hiccups such as not being able to differentiate minor chords.

I hope this can be of use for somebody!

  • Yes, it’s incredibly helpful to be able to identify by ear the component notes present. If you hear “ti” (I hear “7” personally) you can immediately rule out ii or vi if you’re sure you hear a simple triad.
    – Steve Clay
    Jun 22, 2023 at 10:42

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