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Old 10-20-2012, 06:01 AM   #1
Krieger91
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Songs by ear, help?

Hey guys, I seem to have problems learning chords to songs by ear.

I find it hard even to find the root note of the chords..and also, sometimes they all seem wrong and then I'll be torn between like, 3 chords.

So can anyone provide any help? Any techniques? Some ear training, chord recognizing exercises of any form?
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Old 10-20-2012, 06:42 AM   #2
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It takes daily practice but you WILL get better.

One exercise you can do to help develop your ear is to play two notes harmonically (at the same time) and try to sing each note. If you can't hear one of the notes play it individually a couple times then play the two notes together and try to hear it. Keep doing this for about at least a week maybe more. Then try playing three notes harmonically and try to sing each note. Again if you have trouble hearing a note then play that note invdividually and then play the three again listening specifically for that note within the three notes.
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Old 10-20-2012, 06:52 AM   #3
megano28
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From what I've found, we tend to be naturally good at figuring out the roots without much effort. Try humming the chord progression you're trying to learn a few times. Naturally since you can't hum 3+ notes at once, you'll follow the root. If that doesn't work, try listening to the melody of the song. Easier, contemporary music almost always has the melody start on the root. That should help to an extent.

Now when it comes to progressions, try practicing by getting a feel of what the intervals sound like. The typical IV-I, V-I, VI-I are good places to start.

It's going to take a lot of practice, but eventually, you'll be able to pick progressions apart as you hear them being played
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Old 10-20-2012, 07:40 AM   #4
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It might be easy to start on simple power chord riffs. Also learn to hear I-IV-V and basic four chord progressions that are used on every song (I-vi-IV-V, I-V-vi-IV). That's a good place to start.
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Old 10-20-2012, 07:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
It might be easy to start on simple power chord riffs. Also learn to hear I-IV-V and basic four chord progressions that are used on every song (I-vi-IV-V, I-V-vi-IV). That's a good place to start.

I've never learnt what the roman numeral chord progression is all about.

Someone care to explain?
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Old 10-20-2012, 08:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krieger91
I've never learnt what the roman numeral chord progression is all about.


You know how to read the roman numerals from one to seven right? Well each one refers a chord with that interval relationship to the tonic (Also lowercase letters usually indicates a minor chord). So ii indicates the minor chord which is a major second away from the root, iii indicates the minor chord which is a major third away from the tonic, bIII indicates the major chord which is a minor third away from the tonic. IIRC musictheory.net has a couple of articles explaining it pretty well.
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Old 10-20-2012, 09:25 AM   #7
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Start with single note melodies. Chords are hard to an untrained ear. You can only learn what you can hear. show tunes, Christmas songs, movie themes, game themes, cartoon themes, are perfect to start out with. Black sabbath and mega death have some cool easy stuff to learn by ear. You WILL improve don't worry.
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Old 10-20-2012, 09:55 AM   #8
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Metalmetalhead is suggesting the same concept I was going to tell you. Start with slow songs and find the root notes - play them as single notes. It will be almost as if you're playing bass guitar.

What I'm trying to get you to realize is that most songs are extremely formulaic. That is to say, they follow a predictable formula. Most rock songs follow a I IV V formula. Since you've never learned what those letters mean, let me break it down into simpler terms - Let's take a song that's in the key of G. The IV would be a C. The V would be a D. Play those chords in that same order and any number of popular songs might come to mind. Same thing with jazz, which commonly uses a ii V I chord progression, such as Am7 D9 Gmaj7.

This is a technique I frequently use to rapidly figure out the key of a song and its formula or progression interval. I don't possess perfect pitch, but I am able to recognize some notes by ear, which greatly helps. So, if I'm listening to a new song, the first thing I do is quickly figure out the root note to the first chord - it normally doesn't take all that long, perhaps within the first few notes I have it. For example, I just picked a song that I don't typically play and I had the key of the song on the second note I played. This is what your goal is.

Once you have the correct note, now it's time to figure out if it's minor or major. Your ear will improve over time and you'll recognize this. In the meantime, if you hear and play a C as the root chord, chances are real good that you can play a C or Cm and be correct. The only time this won't be correct is when it's a slash chord, such as an Am/C. If you were to play a C here, it will sound close, but it's going to off by enough that you'll hear that something isn't quite right. Slash chords are frequently used in certain descending or ascending progressions and you'll quickly get the hang of recognizing them.

The bottom line is, you just need to keep practicing and working at it. Continue working on ear training. Work with slower songs, which give you more opportunity to find the correct notes and work on your ear.

Best of luck!
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krieger91
I've never learnt what the roman numeral chord progression is all about.

Someone care to explain?


To add onto Nietsche, in a major key, the diatonic chords go like this, from the I chord:

Major I
minor ii
minor iii
Major IV
Major V
minor vi
Diminished vii

(I am not completely sure how to notate the seventh one, i just do it like that, if it's wrong someone correct me).

Using the roman numerals, you can also make them into major or minor if they should be minor or major, or flat them or sharp them/dimish augment etc. For example, say you want to throw in a Neopolitan 6 chord, it would be notated like this: bII6. Say you wanted it to be a major chord built off of the mediant? Notate it like III. It makes it easy to do stuff like that. Even if it isn't diatonic, it still sounds good, who cares?
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Old 10-20-2012, 12:22 PM   #10
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So how do we get this:

Major I
minor ii
minor iii
Major IV
Major V
minor vi
Diminished vii

You can harmonize the major scale and understanding it is much easier. Let's take C major.

C D E F G A B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Chords are built like this: tonic, third, fifth. You just pick those notes from the scale and build the chords. Start from the first note and you get the I chord, start from the second note and you get the ii chord, etc.

I (first) chord: C E G - > C major
ii chord: D F A - > D minor
iii: E G B - > E minor
IV: F A C - > F major
V: G B D - > G major
vi: A C E - > A minor
vii: B D F - > B diminished

I IV and V are majors, ii iii and vi are minors and vii is diminished. (In a major key.)
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Old 10-20-2012, 12:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macashmack
To add onto Nietsche, in a major key, the diatonic chords go like this, from the I chord:

Major I
minor ii
minor iii
Major IV
Major V
minor vi
Diminished vii

(I am not completely sure how to notate the seventh one, i just do it like that, if it's wrong someone correct me).

Using the roman numerals, you can also make them into major or minor if they should be minor or major, or flat them or sharp them/dimish augment etc. For example, say you want to throw in a Neopolitan 6 chord, it would be notated like this: bII6. Say you wanted it to be a major chord built off of the mediant? Notate it like III. It makes it easy to do stuff like that. Even if it isn't diatonic, it still sounds good, who cares?


To notate the 7th one it's viio (o should be a degree symbol). Also, I've seen Neopolitan 6 chords notated as N6. I also second learning from the articles on musictheory.net though so far everyone else has been doing a good job explaining.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:00 AM   #12
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i represents 1
v represents 5
to add, I goes after V = VI = 6
to subtract I goes before V = IV = 4
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Old 10-21-2012, 10:27 PM   #13
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Start with the functional ear trainer (a free download from miles.be) and use it until it's easy.
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:16 AM   #14
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One method I saw in another thread was the above, just find the root notes on the low E string, and then convert those to barre chords using trial and error.

Chords are harder to pick out by ear than single note solos sometimes.... because they can get mixed in with the surrounding harmony from the other instruments.... also...the bit you are listening to may involve the player hitting a bum chord during the recording!
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:57 AM   #15
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Chords are harder to pick out by ear than single note solos sometimes.... because they can get mixed in with the surrounding harmony from the other instruments.... also...the bit you are listening to may involve the player hitting a bum chord during the recording!


This begs the question:

TS, can you quickly transcribe melody lines on guitar? If not, don't try chords yet. Start with melodies.
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