I've always used tabs and sheet music for learning songs, and I'm pretty embarrassed because of it. The best I've done is learn the arabian-ish riff from the new Muse song, United States of Eurasia by ear. However I've been playing guitar for over three years and I think I should really start learning songs by ear rather than trying to find the tab/sheet music.

I assume most of it is straightforward, I just noodle around until I find the right intervals, then try to find the right key, but I was just wondering how you guys do it. If you've got any tips, please share them!

If you guys are curious, I plan on learning these three songs, in this order, on piano:


Yeah, they're all video game music, but I think they sound pretty awesome
you should be proud of yourself being able to read sheet music, it's not an easy task. i read music and when i'm desperate to learn something that has no sheet music i look at tabs, but i want to improve my reading and ear. what i do is that i have my mp3 at my side whenever i'm practicing and i randomly choose a song. when the song comes up i try playing it. i won't get it at first, but through trial and error i get it. you should start out with really melodic stuff.
I usually figure out the bassline first then the chords are usually easier to find. Then i'll know the key and figure out the riffs. Or i'll play something that will sound like a song and just figure the song out. I learned Man Of Many Words and Last Train To Clarksville the second way.
Yea man, once you need people to take you seriously, reading music is extremely important. Don't play it down, it's a skill in its own right.
Learning by ear...making sure you're tuned properly is the first part. Haha it seems obvious but trust me, it's easy to go wrong there. Next, in listening to the song, break it down to the most basic form of the chords you can play. I don't start out thinking Dmmaj7add9, I usually conceive the chordal movement in my head as it plays, and then make the subtle changes when I hear the song and the chord voicing. At least, when I started out, that's how I worked. When you get more proficient, you'll immediately hear the difference between "sounding good" and "being correct."
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Just so you all know, that should be written as Dm/maj9.

lol i usually figure these things out the same way u do, noodling around until it works, but i can only figure out the small riffs and stuff and when it comes to the chords i draw a blank
Gotta keep my eyes from the circling skies...
tounge tied and twisted just an earth bound misfit...


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Quote by TimboSlice
Yea man, once you need people to take you seriously, reading music is extremely important. Don't play it down, it's a skill in its own right.

Haha it's a skill to be able to play the piece as you're reading it, but not so much being able to spot an E and be able to play it within 5 seconds.

So I guess what I'm doing is right, and it'll just get easier the more I do it?