#1
With guitar I can read tab, I know the very basics of notation, I have the ability to pick out rhythm, my timing is ok and I can already feel my own style evolving from my inspirations; Clapton' and BB King's vibrato, Gilmour's bends etc. Not saying I'm anywhere near them yet, lol, but I can see as they're my influences that I'm using bits of their techniques and intertwining them with my own bits and it's very slowly coming together.

What I really want to do though is learn how too play by ear, be able to listen to a song and with a bit of playin' around be able to play it. The likes of Clapton and King didn't have any internet and tabs to help them out, they hardly had any books, neither of them had teachers, they simply learnt the fundamentals and gathered their own styles by listening to old hissy records and being inspired by the african american blues guitarist like Robert Johnson, picking out individual notes and spending masses of time working it out by ear.

I would like to learn like that, old school, I'm determined and passionate about it...

...anywho, what I'm asking is if there is anyone out there who is learning or has learnt to play by ear could give me any tips on where to start and how to move on with it...?


All teh best, Mike.
#2
I think Billy joel was the same way. Learned to play by ear just by listening to the radio.
#3
Check the searchbar; There was thread like this yesterdat, with all very good information in it. IT might still be lurking on this page or the 2nd page.

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#4
BB King once joined U2 for a gig. He said he'd like to jam along to one of their songs. When Edge went through the progression with him, BB said, 'Hold on man. I never got the hang of them chord things.'
The only way to learn to play like these guys is to un-learn what you already know. Got any idea how t6o fo that? Just listen and enjoy what is being played. Join in on the blues stuff and when you get what is happening, go solo.
#5
Learning to play by ear just takes some noodling around and a familiarity of the general style of the artist or song you're trying to learn. Some people do it naturally, some people never learn how to do it. It's just one of those things... You can't really teach it.
#6
It's going to help immensely to know some basic theory and understand harmony. Relative pitch can also be very useful. Honestly though, the best way is to just do it. Practice it and you'll get better at it.
#7
Quote by Avedas
It's going to help immensely to know some basic theory and understand harmony. Relative pitch can also be very useful. Honestly though, the best way is to just do it. Practice it and you'll get better at it.


Relative pitch is imo more important then true pitch.

It's because music is more created by how the notes are relatively different then truely different.

Ie a song still sounds good if you play it in different keys(true pitch), but if you change the pitches of the notes(changing notes within the song) the song changes(Relative pitch).

For writing music relative pitch is better, cause you understand how things sounds together as opposed to how things sound on their own.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jan 8, 2009,
#8
by listening.

listen to the singer, whistle the melody that they're singing.

hum the bass line, tap your foot/bang on things to imitate the drum beat.

listen to the lead guitar breaks, listen for when a note is bent, when vibrato is added to it, when an effect is used, whether a note is fluttered or slurred or passed over or whatever.

it's all about listening. and rhythm. it's not REALLY about what notes you play (well it is but it isn't), it's the rhythm behind them and the phasing that is applied to them.

listen to other music styles as well. jazz, flamenco, funk. blues, country, anything. it's the most beneficial thing you can do as a musician; after all, we're (in the west anyway) all playing the same notes, just phasing them differently.
Last edited by Tagg at Jan 8, 2009,
#9
In my oppinion, the best way to aquire this skill, is just to jump out there and start trying it. For example: tTake any song that you've never played before, and try to play along with it. The first step would be to find what note they are starting on. Then try to listen for the chord progressions. Don't get frustrated if you can't do it at first, it is going to take a lot of time and effort. But as you practice more, you'll notice that a lot of songs are very similar to other that you play. Because a lot of them use the same patterns

Oh, and something else you might want to take in to consideration. When searching for the note they are playing, keep in mind that there are only 12 notes that they could possibly be using. All you have to do is keep hitting those notes untill you match the pitch.
Last edited by tele432 at Jan 8, 2009,
#10
Try humming out what you think should be played during each section. You'll notice that this is fairly easy. You can usually come up with some phrases to hum whenever you'd like. Now its just a matter of hitting those same notes on your guitar.

So practice humming, and then hit a note, then change the note your humming, then try playing that note on the guitar. Work on that
#11
i had the same problem, and was wondering how come they could become so good and not have the same resources, but as far as 'playing by ear' goes i started by simple blues songs my first ones were tracks from this album that eric clapton played on, but i would go through them and figure out the key, then id try and work out the main hook(s), and after i got the hung of it you move on to solos and eventually more complex songs.

originally i thought id never be able to do it but then i decided that i would give it a shot even if i sucked at it and had to spend hrs working out one riff, but as it turned out i was able to figure it out rather quickly within 20min. so dont hesitate just try it keep working at it and it will get easier.
Feelin the Blues


"The Blues are a simple music and I'm a simple man. But the Blues aren't a science, the Blues can't be broken down like a mathematics. The Blues are a mystery, and mysteries are never as simple as they look" - BB King
#12
Quote by Avedas
It's going to help immensely to know some basic theory and understand harmony.


But none of those old guys knew much about theory or harmony. Yet they had great ears. I think its because there was no tab, videos, etc. so the only way to really learn was either from records or from playing with or watching other guitarists, so they developed great set of ears.
#13
Quote by guitarviz
But none of those old guys knew much about theory or harmony. Yet they had great ears. I think its because there was no tab, videos, etc. so the only way to really learn was either from records or from playing with or watching other guitarists, so they developed great set of ears.



+ 1

that's a great point and I think it's well worth considering how valuable it is to connect with music on a purely aural level. that's not to say one shouldn't study theory or try to understand music better, but I think a lot of people bypass the simple and important act of learning music by ear in favor of studying theory and basing what they play off of those conventions.


TS:

as has been suggested, it's simply a matter of experience. The more you learn things by ear, the better you get at it. I highly recommend spending time on this very important aspect of musical development.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jan 10, 2009,
#14
I think there's so many distractions these days, not all a bad thing, just for eg. I'll be listening to my music on iTunes and learning it and then a pop up will say my friends talking to me, or a task on the computer I need to do catches my eye...then something interesting on the TV catches my eye. There's phones going off etc.

The social aspect of life appears take so much more effort to keep up with these days when back in the days of these artists I liked, neighbourhoods and villages had a natural social way about them; and so social life takes from learning guitar cause everyone is so expecting, especially if the people you socialise with are not "musical".

Then us young people are continually bombarded with very heavy loads of homework nowadays, although clearly not physically, schooling is much more mentally demanding and time demanding...and so that's another distraction.

Keeping focused is so tough and along with the extras of internet tab (yes, I'm talking to you Ultimate Guitar *evils*, lol) making things easier...it's even harder to learn the "old school way".

From now on I think I might sign outta MSN, turn off my mobile, turn off the tv, get everything needed done before I sit with the guitar and go with the flow.

With the hussle and bussle of everyday life I get about 3hrs a day...I've heard many say it can take 4-8hrs a day for years to get really good, and I feel I need it...I no longer have a social life cause of it, I've accepted that, lol. My day consists of wake up > college > lunch > relax and guitar > dinner > bit more guitar > spend a little bit of time with mum, dad or my big bro > bed and repeat.
Last edited by Eight_Ball at Jan 10, 2009,
#15
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Relative pitch is imo more important then true pitch.

It's because music is more created by how the notes are relatively different then truely different.

Ie a song still sounds good if you play it in different keys(true pitch), but if you change the pitches of the notes(changing notes within the song) the song changes(Relative pitch).

For writing music relative pitch is better, cause you understand how things sounds together as opposed to how things sound on their own.


+1. I find figuring out things by ear and really listening to what you're playing helps an awful lot. If i'm constantly working things out i'll hear a song and go 'oh that sounds a bit like.....X song/riff/piece/exercise' then i noodle around in the key for a few mins and i have the basic arrangement, it's not that hard really.
#16
Here is a free applet to work on your ear training. I emailed the creator, and unfortunately he says he isn't planning on adding a guitar fret board or anything

But it still will help a ton with getting to learn your intervals, just have your guitar in your hand and lay the intervals as you listen to them on the computer

http://www.trainear.com/
#17
does it help if i try to figure out the chords by using the bass string? like whether it's in F note, or C note etc.
#18
I would start out playing some tunes that have diatonic (or mostly diatonic) progressions.

Figuring out the changes and knowing your scales, pentatonics, arpeggios, blues scales, etc., to play over those changes will help tremendously too.
"How to Become a Better Musician" - is my online course at www.MyOnlineMusicLessons.com. Phrasing and Rhythmic Development, Improv Techniques, Jazz Theory, Ear Training and more. I'm also available for Skype/Hangout lessons.
#20
It will take a longer time. But it's really worth, you will develop your own feel. And you can change some of the notes if you want to.
#21
this is my goal also
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#22
Quote by craziefunky
does it help if i try to figure out the chords by using the bass string? like whether it's in F note, or C note etc.


YEs

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#23
Quote by Mike134
I think Billy joel was the same way. Learned to play by ear just by listening to the radio.


Billy Joel's father was an accomplished classical pianist and Billy Joel took classical piano lessons from a young age.
#24
you're right Souls United, I'm thinking of Ben Folds who supposedly learned by ear after his father brought home a piano when an employer couldn't pay his wages.
#25
learn the intervals first.
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#26
Umm..
I think most has been said..
But I really reckon you should avoid songs with distortion..
Always has been a problem for me when playing by ear..
#27
Quote by Cianyx
Umm..
I think most has been said..
But I really reckon you should avoid songs with distortion..
Always has been a problem for me when playing by ear..


Distortion is a big problem, agreed!

I've managed to work out good riddance time of your life by green day although Csus9 I had to cheat a bit for cause I didn't know it, lol, I've also worked out a little bit of the Layal solo from teh "Eric Clapton and Friends in Concert: A benefit for the Crossroads Centre antigua - 1999 DVD", which btw, I think is his best performance I've seen.

It was strange with the solo, I worked out teh firt 2 notes, then worked out another bit that I eventually found was wrong but once I got the 3rd and 4th notes down, I simply ran through the riff and the next 10 or so notes just happened as I carried on, no thinking, no nothing, I didn't even work them out before hand :|
#28
Quote by Eight_Ball
Distortion is a big problem, agreed!

I've managed to work out good riddance time of your life by green day although Csus9 I had to cheat a bit for cause I didn't know it, lol, I've also worked out a little bit of the Layal solo from teh "Eric Clapton and Friends in Concert: A benefit for the Crossroads Centre antigua - 1999 DVD", which btw, I think is his best performance I've seen.

It was strange with the solo, I worked out teh firt 2 notes, then worked out another bit that I eventually found was wrong but once I got the 3rd and 4th notes down, I simply ran through the riff and the next 10 or so notes just happened as I carried on, no thinking, no nothing, I didn't even work them out before hand :|



Distortion shouldn't matter. If you can hear the difference, you can transcribe. You just don't listen well enough, unless something is smeared and cancelled out by other instruments in a poor mix.

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#29
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Distortion shouldn't matter. If you can hear the difference, you can transcribe. You just don't listen well enough, unless something is smeared and cancelled out by other instruments in a poor mix.



Distortion matters for me because when I try to play by ear..
I tend to listen for the exact notes instead of trying to match the sound with my guitar..
If that made any sense..
That could be caused by the fact that I picked up this skill through playing piano which doesn't have any distortion which generates a problem when I do hear a distorted sound, my brain goes all confuzzled
#30
Quote by Cianyx
Distortion matters for me because when I try to play by ear..
I tend to listen for the exact notes instead of trying to match the sound with my guitar..
If that made any sense..
That could be caused by the fact that I picked up this skill through playing piano which doesn't have any distortion which generates a problem when I do hear a distorted sound, my brain goes all confuzzled



oooooh

Yes I agree. I have the reverse problem sometimes when I try to transcribe from piano, especially because of the range I have to transpose it IN MY HEAD octave or 2 lower to match guitar, which sometimes gives problems.

I did found though, that "relearning" transcribing music played by other instruments, comes far faster if you already are (quite) proficient in ur aural skill.

Just try, even though it's harder, i'm sure you will pick it up quite fast;

I also had this problem with my first bass transcribing, but I figured that out quite fast. What helps is to listen/concentrate harder. This may sound odd, but I mean is ignore ur emotions for a sec or put em aside, and listen purely to the interval/sound and relation to the other instruments in the band.

Eventually (that's what I have) I came to a point that I see in my head how the fingers move over the fretboard. Like visualisation or a youtube movies of a closeup of a neck. Sorta like that, it's hard to describe.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jan 14, 2009,
#31
Im trying to learn how to play by ear as well, doesnt help i have hearing problems but im slowly getting there.


A good way to learn i found is when you're watching tv, have your guitar with you and try and play any good licks or rythyms you hear. A good example would be the friends theme tune riff, the dang dang dang da dang dang da dang dang riff lol!
There's riddles in the shadows
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#32
Quote by M_G
Im trying to learn how to play by ear as well, doesnt help i have hearing problems but im slowly getting there.


A good way to learn i found is when you're watching tv, have your guitar with you and try and play any good licks or rythyms you hear. A good example would be the friends theme tune riff, the dang dang dang da dang dang da dang dang riff lol!


I've never done this, but for the lazy guitarist it actually sounds like a good idea

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