#1
I havent been playing very long and I hear experienced musicians talking about learning to play a song by ear. I was wondering how that is done. What i mean is, do they listen to the song while their playing themselves and try to match notes over and over till they have it memorized, or are the transcribing tab while they listen to it. I'd just like to know how the pro's do it.

thanks
#2
when you've played long enough the instrument becomes a part of you and everything comes instinctively. there's no taught "way" to go about it.
#3
When you are tuning by ear, one thing you can do is replay a note for riff you're learning and see if you can find that note on your guitar. Similar to how you tune by ear with the 5th fret, then when you think you've matched it, move to the next note.

One thing that helps is looking up youtube videos of the people playing live and seeing where the guitarists hand is on the guitar (not so much where his fingers are), it's a place to start off at least.
#4
so then you never really write it down? you just figure the notes out and bam, you remember it. shit my memory isnt that good lol.
#5
Quote by tamotots
when you've played long enough the instrument becomes a part of you and everything comes instinctively. there's no taught "way" to go about it.


I don't know how true this is. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but what I'm getting you're saying you never have to practice transcribing or building your ear skills, they just come to you?

I don't think that's the case, if so, I don't see why people would stress it so much for others to learn it.

Anyways OP, transcribing is lets say I want to learn a song but don't have a tab, alright?

Let's say "Penny Royal Tea" by Nirvana. The song's verse is G and Amin and the chorus is C, D, Bb. Now lets say you didn't know that and like I said above you didn't have a tab but you want to learn the song. Transcribing helps you pick out notes/chords just by listening to it. So, in the case of that song, I would listen to the first chord, STOP the song, determine if I was hearing minor or major, diminished, 7th what ever kind of chord.. After I find out it's major, I try and my major chords and eventually decide G is the chord and I do that with every chord until I can play the song.

That's my understanding of it and what I've been doing. Alot of musicians say it betters your playing because you more so understand what's going on for the future.(I can't really explain this part, but essentially what I'm getting at is the more you do it the better you get at it and it's less of a guessing game)

I've noticed alot of my musician friends seem to think it's pointless in this day and age with all the free tabs resources online, I disagree completely.
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#6
First off I'd start by just watching youtube videos of people playing guitar and trying to replicate what they're playing - it's a bit easier than just listening to audio, because you also have some visual indicators as to their hand positioning etc.

When you get decent at that, just try to listen to songs and figure it out by ear.

tamotots is completely wrong - it doesn't just come with time. Like everything, you have to practice it and develop your ear. I've started to figure stuff out by ear from youtube videos and I'm getting quite good at that, and I think my ear has definitely developed thanks to that.
#7
Quote by turnbacknow
so then you never really write it down? you just figure the notes out and bam, you remember it. shit my memory isnt that good lol.

I believe the word 'transcribing' means to put thoughts or what ever you may call music on paper. I don't think a lot of people do it but it's not a stupid idea. I know I'll transcribe a song I'm really into and forget about the song for awhile and completely forget how to play it.
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#8
there is a taught way. in a brief sense, you need to identify the key(s) of the music, then the chord structure(s), scales used (scale modes etc), bpm and time signature. then after this, transcribing the song becomes a whole lot easier than winging it.

there are other aspects of music that make it a lot harder to transcribe 1 specific song, but that's not worth getting into until you've got easier songs down.
#9
Ok that helps a lot. Ive been watching Youtube just to see if i can pick up position and notes. Have a lot to learn on building my ability to catch it by ear, takes so long. but it is fun and pretty cool when i figure something out and it sounds like its supposed to. but damn its a lot of work to get just one small riff right.

thanks
#10
Learning theory will help a lot with playing by ear. Once you figure out what key the song is in, you have a pretty good idea of what you can play.
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#11
Quote by Junior#1
Learning theory will help a lot with playing by ear. Once you figure out what key the song is in, you have a pretty good idea of what you can play.

^ what he said... Additionally, ear training is the absolute best thing you can do for this.
#12
first of all, the length of time doesnt automatically get you to learn by ear. not all musicians can "play by ear" alot of musicians "memorize"
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#13
To learn by ear is something you just have or have not no matter what is stated here. The point of knowing where to find the note or chord on the guitar actually is a completely different subject. There are two things a guitar player or any instrument player HAS to have. One and absolutely most important is rythm. Because no matter how many chords or melodies you learn you will never play without rythm. Next is the ability to "hear" the music. How can you play guitar without hearing the music within yourself?? How can you write musical notation without being able to hear the music inside your head? So how can you play without it/? I know there are those who read music and apply it but you can tell because of how mechanical it sounds. Music is something within oneself. How you apply it to your instrument is what makes you, you. It is also felt and when you play what you hear along with what you feel and in turn see that your audience also hears it and feels it, THEN you are a musician. Sure you can read it and play it without hearing it literally but in the real world, when you get up on that stage to play a song and the band member tells you "It`s a one four five with a flatened third in G with a quick turn around with a bridge after the second chorus that goes to Em then modulates to A after the third verse" then counts it off and starts jammin` you better have a good memory or be able to find your way through the song by listening. The ability to hear the music is something that will develope with time but the ability needs to be there. After more time you`ll begin to be able to actually know where a song is going before it gets there from simple experience. This may all sound like japanese to you right now but if you stick with it you will eventually understand. This is a difficult point to try to explain anyway.
#14
Train your ear.

Hum a note and try to find it on the guitar. Do this for many notes in different kinds of pitches. Then move on to 2 note sequences and find both of those notes. Make sure to learn how the strings relate to each other so you know that a note can be played in more than one place and a solo or a riff might become alot easier if you simply move a few notes up or down a string.

Next time your hear a note in a song, you'll have a better idea of where exactly it is on the guitar since you would have already practiced that note and found it before. This will also help you write solos and riffs as you can hear it in your head and get an idea of how to play it on the guitar. Learn your intervals and how to tell them apart from each other. That way you won't have to noodle around several frets, you would know exactly how many notes it's apart and get it exactly right. It does take time and practice though.

http://www.musictheory.net/ has good ear training exercises.

This will help you not only in transcribing songs by ear, but also song writing.
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Last edited by cccp2006 at Mar 18, 2012,
#15
woodstock777: JESUS TAP DANCING CHRIST, please try to use some paragraphs and punctuation. Wall of text just slapped me in the mouth.

cccp2006: I think that's the best advice on this thread so far. An ear trainer is amazing for getting your ear better and there are free ones like musictheory.net that are excellent.