#3
im still trying start out with songs that are already tabbed, then you can check if theyre right or not or you have no friggin idea what that one chord is. or at least thats howi do it. im stil getting there..
#5
Noone is born with the ability to play by ear perfectly. Its called relative pitch and it must be developed and everyone can do it. Yes, if you hear a tone most people can figure it out...but getting good at learning songs by ear is something that you are constantly developing. What I am saying is unless you are tone deaf(which noone is) then you can play by ear from birth...but its a case of developing it. A big misconception is that people who are born with perfect pitch can always learn anything by ear with absolutely no problem. This is not true...relative pitch must always be developed. For instance someone with perfect pitch can't name a chord when they hear it without developing relative pitch.
Andy
#6
What does "playing by ear" mean? Sounds like something hendrix when he got bored of playing with his teeth.
#7
Quote by Sibirski Duh
How many of you play by ear?
And how long did it take to learn if you weren't born with it?


it's a lifetime's work... and you get better the more you do it

I think even complete newbies have something of 'an ear' for music... in that we can all tell the difference between something out of tune or dissonant, and something in tune or consonant..

well, that's your starting point for playing by ear: play notes against chords and listen to the differences between various notes... you'll learn to recognize the sound of a 5th, a minor 3rd, a 9th etc... do it more and more, and you get better and better

people who think they have no chance of playing by ear are completely wrong... it's just building on a skill you already have in a basic form

start with really ugly intervals like flat 5th's and minor 2nds, because they're so strongly dissonant they're easy to recognize
out of here
#8
Everyone can recognize by ear. I Mean if u can tell when something is out of tune or not, then you already have the aural skill. You just need to make the links in the brain between ur guitar neck/music notes, and the actual music.

It's just like talking. I will take learning a foreign language as example.

When u began learning a non native language you start out with simple sentences. But when u heard a real conversation, you probably would totally be lost because of the speed and difficult sentence formulations as well as the style (slang, tone of voice etc.)

Same goes for music. Simple melody lines like happy birthday can be figured out quite easy, while shred lines probably would dazzle u for days to come.

Same applies for music. You need to listen really well. Learn the musical phrases that u like, and when u play music, focus on what "THE SOUND IN UR HEAD" says, instead of focusing on the neck of ur guitar or what u can play without thinking.

Best way is to figure out melody's by ear, and take harder stuff as u progress. But always transcribe stuff that u can play, in order to get a well balanced link between ur mind, the guitar and ur fingers. If u try difficult shred lines, you might lose focus on technique and timing or miss out on some notes. It's best too balance it.

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#9
Its not black and white like your question suggests. I can pick up some things but not all. So yes i play by ear. Can i listen to a lick and instantly play it back? Depends on the lick. You will never be done learning its a never ending road. You can always be better. Dont concern yourself with the end of the road. Start walking instead.
#11
I might add that there would be absolutely no point in not being able to play by ear. How would you compose songs etc if it werent for your ear. Using your ear is not as clear cut as learning songs by ear or using tabs. I would say use your ear always..others say use tabs to begin with others say use both. In my experience I would say what never changes is that you are using your ear always. For instance if you are learning a song from a dodgy tab and you know the song well...hit a bum note and you are going to notice surely? If everyones ear wasn't developed to some extent this would go unnoticed. Essentialy the point to remember is that, as a musician, your ear is THE most important tool in your arsenal. Bar none. Lots of people disregard their ear in favour of getting great technique. This is the biggest flaw...ever. You need to train your ear, otherwise you will never get the music within to come out.
Andy
#12
I think hes asking how many people play by ear as opposed to using music theory

my answer, music theory helps you play by ear better
#13
I play by ear whenever I'm figuring something out, or playing along with a theme song on tv.

I think I had the ability ever since playing piano as a kid, where I'd just try to play whatever song I heard. But it takes time to adapt the ability to a new instrument. I couldn't immediately do it when I took up guitar, and I still find it hard to figure out some bass songs.
#14
heres the ultimate answer: if neglect your ear or learning the logical systems of music (theory) you are only limiting yourself because both of these things work together mate
#15
Also, if you don't learn to play by ear, you become one of those robots who can only play from sheet music.
#16
True but ear training is still absolutely necessary for people who only read sheet because one will never manage a great interpretation without a solid ear.
#17
Quote by Deep-Sea-Seamus
True but ear training is still absolutely necessary for people who only read sheet because one will never manage a great interpretation without a solid ear.


But interpretation is substantial, and how you interprete it could be totally different as how someone else would. I mean in the era of mozart and bach etc. you didnt' had recording programs or stuff, so all the classical pieces u hear from them today are interpretations and based on sheet music and not ear. You may like it, but maybe it's totally not how it would sound as it was "the feeling". Notice the " between those, cause it's quite a mystery on how things are perceived in music. And it goes so deep, and it involves so many aspects, which some of em aren't musical, that we will probably never know.

So ye I'm still theorizing about music and it will probably never stop. A great ear helps, but the greatest pieces are based of sheet music, and so are the greatest that are interpreted by ear. It's a never ending debate, but that's okay; we can learn from it

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#18
I play by ear...
and I'm still trying to improve my pitch perception. Some are born with perfect pitch, I was not.
#19
Thanks people
all of this really helps
I was a bit confused cause i was so many times dissapointed when i couldn't get some basic stuff in long period of time. But i was probably doing it wrong in focusing and relaxing.
#21
Quote by Peaceful Rocker
I think hes asking how many people play by ear as opposed to using music theory

my answer, music theory helps you play by ear better

Most of the early bands late 50/60s played by ear as well as not knowing scales, maybe that is why they stand the test of time (the played by ear and not scale).
Perfect pitch is not restricted to musicians, many trades especialy with engine tuners benefit from having perfect pitch.
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#22
Quote by John Swift
Most of the early bands late 50/60s played by ear as well as not knowing scales, maybe that is why they stand the test of time (the played by ear and not scale).
Perfect pitch is not restricted to musicians, many trades especialy with engine tuners benefit from having perfect pitch.

or maybe its withstood the test of time because it was the birth of rock and roll, fresh music people haden't heard before?

If you think not learning music theory is going to help you become a better musician.. well you're wrong
#23
Definately...musicians who are great with no knowledge of scales etc are certainly the exception not the rule.
Andy
#24
Quote by Andy_Mclaughlan
Definately...musicians who are great with no knowledge of scales etc are certainly the exception not the rule.
Andy
That maybe the case today but not in yesteryear.
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#25
Quote by Peaceful Rocker
or maybe its withstood the test of time because it was the birth of rock and roll, fresh music people haden't heard before?

If you think not learning music theory is going to help you become a better musician.. well you're wrong
Don't be silly I didn't say that, what I said was very few just a minority knew scales or theory in those days; most learnt chords from a guitar book (Bert Weedon's "Play In A Day" in the UK), i should know I was around at that time with the likes of Jo Cocker and the Grease Band, we just picked things up from each other.
Of course learning theory is good for you, after the heady days of Beatlemanie I went and studied in London but I've never let theory affect my own playing style what it did do was make many of the things I'd learnt without theory fall into place.
Or alternatively A Miner Bird/Parrot isn't clever because it can talk; it would only be clever if it knew what it was saying.
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#26
This depends what type of music you listen to. If you listen to rock and roll players from the 50s sure they may not have known much theory. But if you listen to jazz musicians from the same period they were very clued up on theory. Back in the days of Mozart, Bach etc they were all very knowledgeable of theory. So yes, great musicians who don't have a clue about theory are the exception not the rule...50s and 60s included. I am not trying to say music theory is the be all and end all. But having an understanding of your instrument and knowing what you are doing is an essential part of music. Music theory didn't emerge after the 60s.
Andy
#27
The most common problem of today is. People close their mind with theory, instead of exploring music for themselve. If u only use ur ear, you would naturally do this. Theory helps, but take it as a guide rather then a musical law.

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#28
An other misconception you ave made is that music theory 'will affect your playing'. This is simply not true. Music theory does not turn you into a machine. It is simply a means to understand how everything all comes together. The comparison between a miner bird hold trues for humans. If we could talk but did not understand what we were saying..sure we might be expressing ourselves but at the same time we wouldn't understand what we were saying. This holds true in music.Sure you can be a great musician without knowing theory but it isn't a matter of great musicians play by ear, machines play using theory.
Andy
#29
Quote by Andy_Mclaughlan
An other misconception you ave made is that music theory 'will affect your playing'. This is simply not true. Music theory does not turn you into a machine. It is simply a means to understand how everything all comes together. The comparison between a miner bird hold trues for humans. If we could talk but did not understand what we were saying..sure we might be expressing ourselves but at the same time we wouldn't understand what we were saying. This holds true in music.Sure you can be a great musician without knowing theory but it isn't a matter of great musicians play by ear, machines play using theory.
Andy


Yes, but the totally opposite is (to my sadness) true. People sometimes lose focus, and go up in theory too much.

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#30
Quote by xxdarrenxx
The most common problem of today is. People close their mind with theory, instead of exploring music for themselve. If u only use ur ear, you would naturally do this. Theory helps, but take it as a guide rather then a musical law.


I agree with that. And, any good musician tends to follow that logic. At the end of the day its music theory because its all theoretical. If it were intended to make machines out of our playing it would be called musical law.
Andy
#31
I do understand what theory means. Music theory is an analysis of the workings of music.How everything connects and the principles by which we can understand this.I am merely trying to get the point across that a knowledge of theory is not a hinderence to your playing regardless of the misconception that everyone who learns anything about theory all of a sudden has no soul in their playing.
Andy
#32
Quote by Andy_Mclaughlan
I do understand what theory means. Music theory is an analysis of the workings of music.How everything connects and the principles by which we can understand this.I am merely trying to get the point across that a knowledge of theory is not a hinderence to your playing regardless of the misconception that everyone who learns anything about theory all of a sudden has no soul in their playing.
Andy


I agree with statement.
When I replied, I had confused you with John Swift. I'll delete my previous post to avoid confusion.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#33
Quote by Andy_Mclaughlan
I do understand what theory means. Music theory is an analysis of the workings of music.How everything connects and the principles by which we can understand this.I am merely trying to get the point across that a knowledge of theory is not a hinderence to your playing regardless of the misconception that everyone who learns anything about theory all of a sudden has no soul in their playing.
Andy


But if you think in theory, people can tell. It's the approach not the execution.

Still there are people who think u have no soul. This is a psychological **** up in the head. They are right, but they perceive it wrong. That kind of music don't connect to their soul. But any soul is different, so they are wrong.

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#34
I dont agree that people can tell you are thinking in theory if you are truly playing from yur heart. For instance if I am playing over a G major #11 chord...I will be thinking in Lydian( so I am thinking in theory), this does not mean I am playing from a place tht is purely theoretical. I may also be targeting the 3rd or the 7th etc but in my case this is to achieve a desired effect since I know how the different scale degrees sound against their respective chords. I am not relying on what works I am merely hearing a sound or feeling in my head and using my knowledge of how chords are constructed and how they relate to modes and then using this information to target the note I want. This same sort of practice can be done by ear and the point is when you practice this sort of thing enough the practice of targeting notes becomes ingrained in your subconcious and your ear is directing you to these notes.
I am sorry if that seems hard to understand but the point is essentially...when you practice theory and apply it enough you don't have to think about it and using what you hear in your head in conjunction with all the theory which is ingrained in your mind you can effortlessly combine the two aspects. I think it was Charlie Parker who said 'learn the changes and then forget them'. That is the sort of thing I am talking about. I am not saying my playing is quite at the effortless level yet but I know given time this will be the case.
The thing with theory is, in the beggining it seems totally daunting and people sound like 'they have no soul' because they get caught up in it and can't think about anything else. This is where they might get really good at it and just use 'what works'. It is even more important that the ear is properly trained and that you are using your ear whilst you are applying theory.
My take on applying theory is that its like a map so you dont get lost, but a map is useless unles you yourself can apply yourself to it. For instance if you read a map and it tells you to go a certain way and you get there and its a dead end..you aren't going to keep trying to move in that direction...you use your initiative and move in another direction. With theory too many people don't even listen to themselves and ask questions like...'I played this note over this chord and its supposed to work but it doesn't. Why is it?' instead of saying 'I played this note and it doesn't work but my ear is saying this note will sound good and hey presto! it does.'

Sorry if I have went on and on and on but I have just been talking to one of my students about this very same thing and I think its important that players can make the distinction instead of just saying 'theory = no soul, no theory= timeless legendary playing'
Andy
#35
Quote by Andy_Mclaughlan
I dont agree that people can tell you are thinking in theory if you are truly playing from yur heart. For instance if I am playing over a G major #11 chord...I will be thinking in Lydian( so I am thinking in theory), this does not mean I am playing from a place tht is purely theoretical. I may also be targeting the 3rd or the 7th etc but in my case this is to achieve a desired effect since I know how the different scale degrees sound against their respective chords. I am not relying on what works I am merely hearing a sound or feeling in my head and using my knowledge of how chords are constructed and how they relate to modes and then using this information to target the note I want. This same sort of practice can be done by ear and the point is when you practice this sort of thing enough the practice of targeting notes becomes ingrained in your subconcious and your ear is directing you to these notes.
I am sorry if that seems hard to understand but the point is essentially...when you practice theory and apply it enough you don't have to think about it and using what you hear in your head in conjunction with all the theory which is ingrained in your mind you can effortlessly combine the two aspects. I think it was Charlie Parker who said 'learn the changes and then forget them'. That is the sort of thing I am talking about. I am not saying my playing is quite at the effortless level yet but I know given time this will be the case.
The thing with theory is, in the beggining it seems totally daunting and people sound like 'they have no soul' because they get caught up in it and can't think about anything else. This is where they might get really good at it and just use 'what works'. It is even more important that the ear is properly trained and that you are using your ear whilst you are applying theory.
My take on applying theory is that its like a map so you dont get lost, but a map is useless unles you yourself can apply yourself to it. For instance if you read a map and it tells you to go a certain way and you get there and its a dead end..you aren't going to keep trying to move in that direction...you use your initiative and move in another direction. With theory too many people don't even listen to themselves and ask questions like...'I played this note over this chord and its supposed to work but it doesn't. Why is it?' instead of saying 'I played this note and it doesn't work but my ear is saying this note will sound good and hey presto! it does.'

Sorry if I have went on and on and on but I have just been talking to one of my students about this very same thing and I think its important that players can make the distinction instead of just saying 'theory = no soul, no theory= timeless legendary playing'
Andy


You answered ur own question. The theory helped you to get the sound that u want, thus you don't play from theory first, it's just a guidance. That's totally cool with me. If you play D dorian over a d minor just because it's Dorian, then there's no point. If ur just learning Dorian, and that's the reason why you play it, you probably won't put it on an album, unless u have come up with an interesting Idea in Dorian, which leads back to theory has guided you in achieving a sound you'd like to share with people. I'm totally cool with that too

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Nov 20, 2008,
#36
Well, I don't think any knowledge or ability is bad by itself. It's all in how we use it. There are a million ways that a person can inhibit themselves from being creative. Thinking that theory is a set of rules rather than a way of understanding how things work is definately one of them. Obsessing over technique to the point where it takes you away from the goal of making music is another. Pressuring yourself too much that "this has to be really good" will also do the job quite nicely. Or trying to be too much like guitarist X who you admire. Or better than guitarist Y who you want to compete with. Hell, you could even be concentrating so hard on not making funny faces while playing because it isn't "cool", that it takes you away from experiencing the music.
But my point is that none of the reasons above are to blame for a person being inhibited. It's all in how we think about those things.
#37
Anyone would like to recommend me an easy metal song to play by ear? I've tried playing reincarnation of benjamin breeg by Iron Maiden but I can't even play the intro to the end.
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