Hey guys,

I've considered my self a reasonably good tabber for the last few years or so and I haven't really had much of a problem working out songs for myself when a tab is unavailable, or even arranging songs for guitar from pieces with multiple instrument voices.

The one thing which holds me back, especially in more complex songs (jazz, prog) is the working out of timings. My ear for chords and melodies is excellent, partly down to playing violin for a long time, however when It comes to timings I find it very hard to estimate note values.

Note that this problem only effects the transcribing of songs rather than the playing of these songs. i.e. I can't work out whether the note is a 16th, 32nd, triplet etc. to enter it into Guitar Pro. I can easily play the part by ear without having to transcribe it. The reason I want to transcribe these parts is so that I can tab out my own songs and then send the parts to my bandmates to learn. Making my problem even more specific, I am fine in working out the time signatures. It's just when it comes to the irregular syncopation of notes within the bar, I get very confused as to what is going on.

Does anyone have any tips on how to hear note values more clearly? Preferably without having to slow the track down to 1/100th of its original speed. I understand note values, but just cant hear them!

Please help

Edit: Here's an example. I've just been spending the last hour or so trying to work out the first couple of bars of this song. I've managed to get the timing almost right, but to my ears - it's still slightly out. I've been messing about with different note values for ages and I can't seem to get it to sound exactly the same. Aside from guestimating the note values again and again, how to I get them right relatively quickly?

I've attached the GuitarPro file for the tab I came up with.
We Still Got It.gpx
Are You Shpongled..?
Last edited by nugiboy at Jan 26, 2013,
listen for the pulse and how it's subdivided

also, points for shpongle
modes are a social construct
You need to be able to count the subdivisions of the beat, and keep track of it while you play the part.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
What about when the notes don't seem to fall into any obvious subdivisions?
Are You Shpongled..?
Quote by nugiboy
What about when the notes don't seem to fall into any obvious subdivisions?
Well it depends where you define "obvious." Any straight subdivision of the beat (i.e. quarters, eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds) is pretty straightforward. Where it could get confusing is when you have tuplets (i.e. triplets, quintuplets, septuplets, etc.

Triplets are also pretty straightforward, you're dividing a beat or a subdivision of the beat into three equal note durations rather than two. Once you get into larger tuplets, you just have to estimate. If you hear a weird number of notes in a beat, you just have to find a way to count so that they all line up in some way or another.

No rhythmic duration is 100% precise anyway, since humans aren't robots. Two people can interpret a rhythm much differently. Some people will gravitate towards the subdivisions, fall behind the beat a bit, or just cram the notes into the correct length of time and not worry about making them completely precise. As long as your rhythmic interpretation is tasteful and relatively true to the music, it should be fine. You just need to make sure you stay in time with anyone else you may be playing with.

Like I said, Guitar Pro rhythms are never going to sound right because they are programmed as exact divisions of the beat. If you were to write 32nd note septuplets into guitar pro at 60 bpm, each note is going to be given exactly 1/7 of a second (0.14285714285), whereas a human might play each note anywhere from .14 seconds to .15 seconds.

You also said you have trouble distinguishing 16ths from 32nds. I don't get this. 32nds are twice as fast. That's not even close to a negligible amount. That's the difference of 4 notes in a beat to 8.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Jan 27, 2013,