#1
Hello all!

Today I started learning John Petrucci's Lost Without You. I thought I'd try learning it by ear, as this is my preferred method of learning things before using tabs if I really can't figure something out. The slower melodies I find quite easy to transcribe and can play them pretty much instantly. When you get to some faster licks, I take much longer to get them. I have to play that part of the song over and over and sometimes I just can't figure them out note for note, even if I get the gist of the lick. Usually I know what scales to play but this song also gets into melodic minor territory, but besides that even when I know exactly what scale is used I find it hard to hear the notes when they're very fast. Is there anything I can do to get better at transcribing faster, more complicated licks with total accuracy? I want to be able to be totally independent of tabs someday, a lot of very accomplished players can do this no problem. Sorry for the crappy sentence structure, I'm writing this in a bit of a hurry.
#3
^^^ Yep, that's about it.

Also if you want to be completely free from tabs, stop using tabs. It's that easy.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#4
Hum along. If you have some ear for pitch and are able to keep a note with your voice then it should be easy to 'hum' along to the licks, especially when you slow them down. It may take some time but it'll be pretty precise at the end of the day. Check a note, or try to hum along with smaller sections of a lick (say every four notes). This will usually give you an idea of what notes to play. Then find them on your neck.

It usually helps to find the notes on a single string first off, then transposing it to different strings. That way you'll usually find out what position your hands/fingers should be at, and you'll be able to figure out different patterns and possibilities of playing the lick.

Don't try to do exactly what the player you're trying to tab is playing. Not if you're not completely comfortable with his or her material, playing style, technique, common licks/scales/chords/intervals etc. that are being used by the player. Steve Vai could transcribe a lot of Zappa's music not because he's such a great guitar player himself but because he played with Zappa for a decade or so. This will obviously give you a head start. The notes should be right, but your technique will not be Petrucci's or Satriani's or Hendrix's or Vai's (no matter how good you are! You simply aren't the same player, you do not have the same body, muscles and physique. This has nothing to do with anybody being a 'better' player than you) so trying to mimic him would be somewhat destructive for the purpose of transcribing the actual song.

And yes, transcribing songs is often a very painstaking process. It can be tedious and boring. But at the end of the day, knowing that you figured out that strange lick or that epic riff will make you feel awesome. So no matter what, just keep going, keep trying. If you fail, then learn from those mistakes, and then continue. Practice makes perfect!
Last edited by Eryth at Aug 5, 2014,
#5
Slowing them down is where it's at.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

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#6
Quote by Eryth
Hum along. If you have some ear for pitch and are able to keep a note with your voice then it should be easy to 'hum' along to the licks, especially when you slow them down. It may take some time but it'll be pretty precise at the end of the day. Check a note, or try to hum along with smaller sections of a lick (say every four notes). This will usually give you an idea of what notes to play. Then find them on your neck.

It usually helps to find the notes on a single string first off, then transposing it to different strings. That way you'll usually find out what position your hands/fingers should be at, and you'll be able to figure out different patterns and possibilities of playing the lick.

Don't try to do exactly what the player you're trying to tab is playing. Not if you're not completely comfortable with his or her material, playing style, technique, common licks/scales/chords/intervals etc. that are being used by the player. Steve Vai could transcribe a lot of Zappa's music not because he's such a great guitar player himself but because he played with Zappa for a decade or so. This will obviously give you a head start. The notes should be right, but your technique will not be Petrucci's or Satriani's or Hendrix's or Vai's (no matter how good you are! You simply aren't the same player, you do not have the same body, muscles and physique. This has nothing to do with anybody being a 'better' player than you) so trying to mimic him would be somewhat destructive for the purpose of transcribing the actual song.

And yes, transcribing songs is often a very painstaking process. It can be tedious and boring. But at the end of the day, knowing that you figured out that strange lick or that epic riff will make you feel awesome. So no matter what, just keep going, keep trying. If you fail, then learn from those mistakes, and then continue. Practice makes perfect!

But you learn new styles that way. If you play everything note for note, it also makes your ear better. If you can't figure out a lick by ear, it means you are not familiar enough with the sound and you need to get more familiar with it (if you want to learn it).

Some guitarists only learn songs "well enough" which doesn't mean they learn them note for note. Yes, they add their own style to it which many times is fine but if you can't play it in the original way, that's kind of limiting. Adding your own style isn't an excuse. You shouldn't add your own style just because you can't play it in the original way.

I think learning stuff you are not familiar with makes you improve. It makes you learn new things. It's not your style yet, but once you have figured out the lick, it can become part of your style. People need to realize that your style changes over time. Your style is the sum of your influences.

But yeah, I think there are benefits from both, playing it in your own style and learning a new style. It's good if you can do both.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#7
Can you slow down in Audacity without changing the pitch...?

TS...I've got a Tascam GT-R1 which does exactly that. Its awesome. makes you a better musician, getting away from tabs.
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#9
Quote by Hail
yeah or i wouldnt suggest it

Cmon man... I didnt mean it like that. Where/how...? Ive got Audacity...and have never been able to find it....
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#10
The best software for doing this that I've ever seen is transcribe. I wish I could change the mousewheel to zoom in and zoom out, and click and drag to a hand grab tool, and ctrl mousewheel to side scroll, but other than that, it's pretty perfect.

You can time stretch, and pitch shift real easy, and loop real easy also. It has a really good stretch algorithm as well I find. Some cheaper algorithms get more choppy more quickly.

It also has some features where it can help you out, and find the harmonics of any given section, if you're into that stuff.
#11
use change tempo, not change speed

for half speed, just edit tempo -50.0%
#12
ahhhhhhh well there you go....

I'd always used this little slider on the right to slow things down for lining tracks up.....

I'd never noticed the change tempo thingy in the effects menu....

Thanks for that, Hail.
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#14
Quote by MaggaraMarine

Some guitarists only learn songs "well enough" which doesn't mean they learn them note for note. Yes, they add their own style to it which many times is fine but if you can't play it in the original way, that's kind of limiting. Adding your own style isn't an excuse. You shouldn't add your own style just because you can't play it in the original way.


I completely agree. I think you misunderstood my point. We're basically talking about the same thing. My point, however, was that you can transpose certain licks to different places on the neck. Or say that you want to play in Drop D but a song is in standard tuning. It's very possible to play every 'right' note, you just won't play it the way it's played originally. I know that I write material which would probably be easier if I played it in a drop tuning (for example, you can reverse this argument as well) but once I write a riff a certain way it just gets embedded in my muscle memory.

Trying different ways of playing things, or using an open tuning, will only expand your 'musical horizon' since it will release you from relying completely on muscle memory. I know so many incredible guitarists who have been playing for decades but wouldn't be able to play a chord or lick to save their lives when you hand them a guitar tuned to Open C or Drop D. And that, to me, feels like a waste of talent
Last edited by Eryth at Aug 6, 2014,
#16
Quote by Eryth

Trying different ways of playing things, or using an open tuning, will only expand your 'musical horizon' since it will release you from relying completely on muscle memory. I know so many incredible guitarists who have been playing for decades but wouldn't be able to play a chord or lick to save their lives when you hand them a guitar tuned to Open C or Drop D. And that, to me, feels like a waste of talent


Actually, I think that the alternate tuning has basically moved down the harmonic frequency spectrum into bass guitar territory. So that pitch collection is redundant, and I find so much of that playing, redundant. What I think has happened, is that a sense of musical deafness has resulted, in that your alternate tuned 6+ string musicians seem less caring about well balanced music in the frequency range and instead have stuffed the lower end with notes.

This is why I never found going that way appealing. I admit there are some intriguing ideas, but nothing that I feel is ultimately going to last. I think it marks and has marked the de-evolution of music as we know it. I don't think 70 years from now people are going to be gathered around a piano at an old nursing home waxing nostalgic about an "Animals As Leaders" song or "Periphery" tune.

Best,

Sean
#17
Quote by Hail
kids these days

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pffft... damn skippy


Chaps... through no fault of your own, your customary default acerbity is characterized by some as snide...

...but I never fail to find it delightful.
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#18
Quote by Eryth
I completely agree. I think you misunderstood my point. We're basically talking about the same thing. My point, however, was that you can transpose certain licks to different places on the neck. Or say that you want to play in Drop D but a song is in standard tuning. It's very possible to play every 'right' note, you just won't play it the way it's played originally. I know that I write material which would probably be easier if I played it in a drop tuning (for example, you can reverse this argument as well) but once I write a riff a certain way it just gets embedded in my muscle memory.

Trying different ways of playing things, or using an open tuning, will only expand your 'musical horizon' since it will release you from relying completely on muscle memory. I know so many incredible guitarists who have been playing for decades but wouldn't be able to play a chord or lick to save their lives when you hand them a guitar tuned to Open C or Drop D. And that, to me, feels like a waste of talent



You're not wrong, but the aim, for me, or one of them, is to be able to play whatever it is I can imagine instantly on a whim. Just automatically. I will admit that sometimes some muscle memory action will kick in, and it will be muscle memory deciding, rather than deliberate intention, and that's something that I think is important to work at avoiding for sure.

But, I'm not gonna spend much time in alternate tunings, because it would be a whole bunch of effort to re-learn everything again. I mean, ya a lot of the time I will be able to guess pretty easily, especially up along one single string, obviously, but I put in a decent amount of time into learning the guitar, so that I can play quickly and instantly on a whim. It's like a different muscle memory. One so that I could go from idea to sound instantly. That can be for single notes, or for chords. If you switch the tunings on me, I can't just instantly choose the chord I want on a whim anymore without learning a whole new tuning system. I might as well at that point learn a new instrument, except my dexterity is already correctly developed for guitar.

Alternate tunings can let me do different things, and they can inspire me to play different stuff, and if all I wanted to do was play set pieces, or write set pieces like andy mckee does, then I'd be all over alternate tunings like that.

But since I want to freestyle, and command my guitar as fluently as possible, as quickly as possible, then playing in alternate tunings would be a bit of a setback.

There is already a lifetime of techniques and things to master in standard tuning. I wouldn't call it limiting. For me, learning alternate tunings would be limiting. Standard tuning is standard tuning because it is the most flexible and versatile tuning. It's still limited, but other tunings are more limited, albeit better suited for different things, and allow some things that standard tuning does not.

It depends what you want. One way is not better than another. A lot of those candyrat guys are great guitarists, but they don't really freestyle.

That said, I'd probably still write a few tunes for shits and giggles if I had a bunch of nice guitars at my disposal that I could leave in different tunings. I'm not a big fan of tuning a guitar one way to play one thing, and then tuning it differently to play something else. I don't really ever play any set pieces though, unless there are vocals, and even then, the parts where I don't sing will never be the same twice.
#19
Great and simple advice, guys. For some reason I've never thought to slow down a song in Audacity. Almost seems like cheating :P but whatever works I guess.
#20
Quote by evhledzep5150
Great and simple advice, guys. For some reason I've never thought to slow down a song in Audacity. Almost seems like cheating :P but whatever works I guess.

It's far from cheating. Some stuff would be nearly impossible to figure out in full tempo.
#21
it actually is cheating. i put all my music at quintuple speed to add to the challenge

anyone who doesnt is a casual
#23
Slowing it down, yeah. Some people are just born with the natural ability to play by ear without almost any effort. Then there are some where the entire concept of transcribing is a brick wall. I would slow it down but I would also listen note by note and match that note with your guitar. It might seem incredibly slow that way, especially if it's a fast song with a million notes. But usually, in my experience, once you get a hand full of notes down it makes the rest of the song easier. If it's a chord you're trying to transcribe then do the same thing. Match a note on your guitar that sounds like whatever chord you're trying to tackle. Once you have that note, do a little theory and figure out what chord that note represents. Best regard.