innovine
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Join date: Feb 2012
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#1
I've seen the (no doubt good) advice a few times on the forum to play what you hear. But what if you don't hear anything? I don't have melodies playing in my head. I normally play something and then change it and see if it; any good, then change it some more and so on. By contrast I get the feeling that many of you hear stuff first, then try to play it.. I most definitely use muscle memory to play, and 'hear' melodies and rhythms as movements first. Maybe it comes from drumming a lot, the movement and sound is really tight. Any suggestions on how to develop an inner melodic sense? I rarely hum or sing improvisational tunes, maybe that would help?
HotspurJr
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Join date: Jul 2011
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#2
How good is your ear?

Can you hear something that I play and then quickly play it?
supersac
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Join date: Aug 2009
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#3
i definately dont always have a tune in my head but occasionnally ill get inspirationif that makes sense

and sometimes i dotn hear anythign until i had already started playing
like illplay a chord progression or be practicing a lick or watever and illget an idea for a different lick

i guess the best way to develo this is too think of music and really work on your ear i found that onc ei started workign on my ear i couldwrit eparts away form my guitar or insturments

and i suggest you try NOT to use muscle memory to write because then alot of your playing will sound simialr and if youre anything like me youll quickly get bored of your own music and thatll make playing less fun
innovine
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#4
I'd probably manage to pick out a small melody, but chords other than very basic major and minor would be difficult.
Sickz
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#5
Training your ear is the key to this. That's why everyone says "Work on your ear" all the time, it's one of the few things everyone here agrees on, it's not down to personal of opinion if developing your ears is a good thing, it simple just is a good thing.

Anyway. There are a few ways to get a clearer vision of what you hear in your head (or in your case, to start hearing stuff).

The most benefitial in my opinion is learning music that you love by ear. It will be hard at first, but as you work on it you will get better. I used to learn only by sheet music and tabs, then i started working on my ear aswell, so then i learned by ear/sheet music and tabs. Later when my ear got better i realized many tabs had major errors in them and i threw tabs out the window. And nowdays i only learn by ear (expect when i get a piece that is notated. I can still read well and i practice it, i just learn by ear to improve my ears more).

Learning songs you love by ear is great for many different things.
1) It will train your ears, fingers and mind to connect the dots between sounds and places on the fretboard. So you will be able to hear a phrase and then quickly be able to find it on your instrument. This is what is playing what you hear.

2) You will develop your own style better. Learning by hear has the amazing benefit that since you learn a lot of music that you like by just hearing it, it will be easier coming up with something similar, but with your style to it. Multiple influences from different styles can blend together very nicely. This is playing what you hear in your head. Learn songs and develop your ear and you will start getting ideas more easily yourself. You might hear someone playing a chord progression and you will get a melody or lick going in your head, and then you will be able to pick it out on the spot.

3) You will learn your songs better. I had that problem before with learning by tabs or sheet music that "aww man, how'd that part go again?" or "What's the structure of this song again? Is it verse, chorus verse and then the bridge?". Learning by ear ingrains that better and faster into your head.

I also recommend you practice improvising to backing tracks. And that is really improvising, not going up and down familiar licks and patterns. Really try to hear something in your head, even if it's just one note. Then find that note.

Developing your ears is one of the HARDEST things you'll do as a guitarist, and musician in general. And it's something you can always improve on. But it's also the thing that will help you the most once you get good at it. Small steps is the way to go, try to learn something everyday by ear, even if it's just a 5 second lick. Pick easy stuff at first and then move to harder stuff as you progress. I recommend getting some sort of software for slowing songs down so you can pick out stuff easier.

Good luck, hope this helped.
Cheers.
Sick
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innovine
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2012
769 IQ
#6
Quote by supersac


i guess the best way to develo this is too think of music and really work on your ear i found that onc ei started workign on my ear i couldwrit eparts away form my guitar or insturments

and i suggest you try NOT to use muscle memory to write because then alot of your playing will sound simialr and if youre anything like me youll quickly get bored of your own music and thatll make playing less fun


yeah I think my playing is kind of mechanical. I am just going through permutations and listening for something that sounds good, but I know that what I think sounds good is pretty limited. Probably cos my ear is a bit basic?
supersac
Tab Contributor
Join date: Aug 2009
630 IQ
#7
Quote by innovine
yeah I think my playing is kind of mechanical. I am just going through permutations and listening for something that sounds good, but I know that what I think sounds good is pretty limited. Probably cos my ear is a bit basic?



if what you think sounds good is limited an answer is to listen to more different music than what you usually do to get used to different sounds in a musical context

but yes i cannot stress it enough if you want to be good musician a good ear is almost required

maybe you can also take lessons or a music class im taking musicianship classes and while im not much better technically than when i started my writing and song have gotten alot better and im enjoying playing alot more

anyway i hope im helping out here and i wish you luck on your musical journey
vIsIbleNoIsE
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#8
i second the ear training. the more you have a sense of what you hear outside your head, the better you'll be able to realize what's inside your head. and sometimes it's not even just being able to play it back on guitar - i sometimes come up with melodies that seem like they could be really cool, but the melody itself is hazy and i can't actually tell what notes are going into it because i'm only capable of creating the outline. i'd hum it out and it'd sound like a really bad approximation of what i wanted.

another thing is that maybe you just lack inspiration. i find that i have to spend time away from music to get inspired.
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#9
listen to music
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mjones1992
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#10
Just to add to the listening to music part: When you're listening, try to pick out the "why" and "how" something works. e.g. what effects the drumming, or the bassline or the guitars have on the melody. look for stuff like how changes in notes can change the character of how the melody sounds.

Like if you were to play two chords over a 4/4 drum beat (1 chord for measures 1 and 2 and another for measures 3 and 4), but the bass line changes on the fourth measure, therefore implying a chord change on the last measure even though the guitar is still playing the same chord.

It's just one example, but if you start to look for stuff like that, and understand how it changes the overall song's sound, it'll add more ideas into your repertoire
Pyrotechie
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Join date: Jan 2009
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#11
For me, it just came from the years of playing. I've always gotta have some music going on in my head, eventually you get tired of hearing the same old songs and start imagining stuff that you'd like to hear out of a song, which is how I got into songwriting.

Really, it's different for everyone.
MaggaraMarine
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#12
I might not hear anything if I'm not playing but I just start with some note and I kind of feel the next note, etc. So beforehand I might not hear anything but once I start playing, I feel where the melody should go (and I'm not talking about muscle memory). Playing one note or a lick gives me an idea how to continue my solo. So you don't need to hear it all before you start playing, you kind of start hearing things after you play a note or two. You get inspired by the melody you play and you know how to continue it if that makes sense. This is how I do it.

Also don't be too critical. You always hear something but you just ignore it because you think it doesn't sound right. Just start playing and you will come up with some ideas.
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TravisWright
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#13
Quote by innovine
But what if you don't hear anything? I don't have melodies playing in my head. I normally play something and then change it and see if it; any good, then change it some more and so on.... By contrast I get the feeling that many of you hear stuff first, then try to play it.. I most definitely use muscle memory to play, and 'hear' melodies and rhythms as movements first... I rarely hum or sing improvisational tunes, maybe that would help?


What you are describing is normal. Give it time. You will eventually 'hear the music in your head'... this is an aural skill which is a very misunderstood skill. Especially on guitar. So don't worry. Most, I'm willing to bet, do not practice this skill unless you are truly aiming to be a pro. This isn't unlike trying to tell a fifth grade class diagramming sentences that maybe you should look to also studying latin. It will help you better understand English and ALL languages.

What you are talking about is really good. Hearing the music in your head is very important. Especially before you play. Good players in any sport can execute. Fewer players know how plays are forming and know where to be all the time. That takes a lot of time and experience.

If you are interested in learning this... a good starting point is to start SINGING your scales. Start with C major. Learn to recognize the SOUND of a minor third, perfect fourth, fifth, and so on. You'll make associations with it through others songs an jingles. NBC. Here comes the bride. Etc... use those as reference points.

I responded because I too am working on this. It's a very very valuable skill. It's also learnable. So hope that helps.

Sounding cool is different than knowing what to say and how it truly will affect your listeners. There's no wrong way. But there are different aims. Thinking before you speak doesn't mean you won't know how to improvise. It means you will only improvise BETTER because you have thought it through already and now are truly freer to go with the flow on the spot!

Hope this helped.
20Tigers
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Join date: Jun 2008
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#14
Quote by innovine
I've seen the (no doubt good) advice a few times on the forum to play what you hear. But what if you don't hear anything? I don't have melodies playing in my head. I normally play something and then change it and see if it; any good, then change it some more and so on. By contrast I get the feeling that many of you hear stuff first, then try to play it.. I most definitely use muscle memory to play, and 'hear' melodies and rhythms as movements first. Maybe it comes from drumming a lot, the movement and sound is really tight. Any suggestions on how to develop an inner melodic sense? I rarely hum or sing improvisational tunes, maybe that would help?

there are many different ways to write music that work for many different people.

I know that Bono, Dave Grohl, and David Gilmour often sing their melodies over the song. They listen to the music and sing nonsense sounds and syllables as they get the feel of the song and the melody. Gilmour then transcribes what he sings into a solo and touches it up as he goes along, Grohl and Bono develop their nonsense sounds they were singing into words.

It might be that you have a specific song playing in mind and sit down and try to transcribe the music in your head. Other times a song might come from experimenting with and exploring a specific concept such as a chromatic line, resolving a particular resolution, or some other simple concept that provides a starting point from which to build a song. Playing and improvising might provide you with the seed for a song idea.

It's nothing to worry about and it's not the same for everyone.
Si
cdgraves
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2013
43 IQ
#15
Don't expect cool ideas just to be sitting there the moment you want them. Inspiration rarely comes as a complete, pre-packaged idea. Sometimes I sit down with nothing and 20 minutes later I have new song halfway done. It's mostly just getting in the habit of listening to music with curiosity and excitement.

Rather than worrying about how "inspired" you are, just get to guitar work. Do your technical and musical workouts, and reserve some time for less focused creative stuff. When you come across something you like, work with it for a little while and commit to memory. The more time you spend practicing guitar and learning music, the easier it will be to work with ideas when they do come to you.
afromoose
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Join date: May 2009
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#16
Quote by innovine
I've seen the (no doubt good) advice a few times on the forum to play what you hear. But what if you don't hear anything? I don't have melodies playing in my head. I normally play something and then change it and see if it; any good, then change it some more and so on. By contrast I get the feeling that many of you hear stuff first, then try to play it.. I most definitely use muscle memory to play, and 'hear' melodies and rhythms as movements first. Maybe it comes from drumming a lot, the movement and sound is really tight. Any suggestions on how to develop an inner melodic sense? I rarely hum or sing improvisational tunes, maybe that would help?


Hi there

Things that would definitely help are

1. Learning chord sequences really well, because these are the backdrops for improv
2. Humming melodies whilst you're not playing, for obvious reasons
3. Transcribing/ learning by ear stuff that you like the sound of
4. Ear training, because it will develop clarity in how you perceive notes
5. Try and sing/hum the note you're about to play

5 is a really good one. Muscle memory is ok but you will hit a rut and get very frustrated sooner or later.
Luke Mosse Guitar Teacher in Bristol, UK
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#17
Quote by innovine
I've seen the (no doubt good) advice a few times on the forum to play what you hear. But what if you don't hear anything?

Do what Chick Corea said...
MissingSomethin
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Join date: Mar 2013
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#18
Quote by Sickz

Learning songs you love by ear is great for many different things.
1) It will train your ears, fingers and mind to connect the dots between sounds and places on the fretboard. So you will be able to hear a phrase and then quickly be able to find it on your instrument. This is what is playing what you hear.

Sick


This makes a lot of sense. I wished I spent more time doing this back when. I'm at a place where I don't want to decode covers anymore, but this may be a different reason to do so,
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Erc
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#19
Any suggestions on how to develop an inner melodic sense? I rarely hum or sing improvisational tunes, maybe that would help?


This is actually a fantastic way to begin. When I practice I just sit at the piano, play a note, then prehear the next note using my imagination and find the pitch on the piano.
Eventually, the idea is to be able to look at written music and then hear the notes on the page the same way you read a book and hear words and see pictures inside your head. Once you've garnered this ability, you can really really start working on your ear in really interesting ways.

Basically it all begins with call response. I hear note that you play and I imitate sound that you make. It is basically the suzuki method taught the right way. Music is a language which you have to learn and all children learn language the same way at the beginnings of their lives; and that is playing 'copycat'. So good luck on developing your ear!
Hail
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#20
Quote by afromoose
Hi there

Things that would definitely help are

1. Learning chord sequences really well, because these are the backdrops for improv
2. Humming melodies whilst you're not playing, for obvious reasons
3. Transcribing/ learning by ear stuff that you like the sound of
4. Ear training, because it will develop clarity in how you perceive notes
5. Try and sing/hum the note you're about to play

5 is a really good one. Muscle memory is ok but you will hit a rut and get very frustrated sooner or later.


so, listening to music
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skilly1
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#21
As said above, music is a language you learn but sometimes you don't always have something to say, so keep on practicing till you are inspired to play something you hear, that's the way I look at it
afromoose
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#22
Quote by Hail
so, listening to music


No listening to music alone won't do it, otherwise critics would all be great musicians.
Luke Mosse Guitar Teacher in Bristol, UK
Hail
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#23
Quote by afromoose
No listening to music alone won't do it, otherwise critics would all be great musicians.


music critics don't like music
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Fallenoath
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#24
My problem is not being able to get what I hear out right.
Because when I'm trying to figure out the notes I often get distracted when I hear a note that isn't what I wanted and I change what I was hearing in my head and I hate that.
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skilly1
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#25
Quote by Fallenoath
My problem is not being able to get what I hear out right.
Because when I'm trying to figure out the notes I often get distracted when I hear a note that isn't what I wanted and I change what I was hearing in my head and I hate that.


That's the same with me, I guess im not familiar enough with the fretboard yet, and this is distracting if you don't know where the exact note is when you hear it in your head and then it's gone
Fallenoath
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#26
Quote by skilly1
That's the same with me, I guess im not familiar enough with the fretboard yet, and this is distracting if you don't know where the exact note is when you hear it in your head and then it's gone


Exactly!

Good to know other people have this issue as well. But, yeah it must just be that I'm not really comfortable with the fretboard yet.
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