We often hear about absolute pitch (also called perfect pitch). According to Wikipedia, it is "an ability to identify a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone". Let's be honest, this is a rare ability (we won't debate whether it is an innate ability or not!). However, one thing is certain, it is possible to train the relative pitch. The difference with the absolute pitch is that the relative pitch is the ability to identify notes when a reference note is known, for example you know the first note of the melody.
The basis of a good musical ear is to be able to recognise musical intervals, i.e. the distance between two notes, given in tones and semitones. Chords and scales are built on intervals.
A good musical ear makes it possible for example to play back "by ear" a song you heard on the radio. Experts will be able to do it right the first time, while for less experienced musicians, it will take a few tries. With practice, it gets easier and easier.
For improvisation as well, the musical ear is indispensable. It allows for example to recognize the cadence, i.e. a sequence of chords, which then allows to improvise on it in a coherent way.
The exercises in this section will help you sharpen your musical ear.