#1
Hey guys, I've been playing guitar for a few years now and I've always just used tabs to learn songs (tab pro when available). So, I was just wondering what all you guys' approaches to learning songs were. I've heard a lot about learning songs by ear.

The point is, how do you guys learn songs?
#2
99% of the time, by ear. I take the tune i want to learn, split it up into sections (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, ABAC, ABBA etc) then split those sections into smaller chunks if they are complicated, then learn to sing what i am learning.

If i can sing what i am hearing, i can find it on my instrument.

If it comes to figuring out a progression that ain't very straight forward, i do the same process with the bass. Listen for it, and learn to sing it. Then analyze what notes are being played and how they relate to the key, and i can figure out the chords.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#3
I agree with Sickz. Works the same way for me 99% of the time and I rarely get stumped unless someone has used an unusual inversion of a chord. When that happens I'll then get the rest of the song down and work out that chord one finger at a time if I have to. That is very unusual.

The benefit of getting away from tabs and stuff someone else has put together like chord charts is that once you have taken the time to figure the song out yourself, you don't have to struggle to remember it. You already know it and it sticks with you. It's seems difficult at first but after awhile (depending on how much time you invest in doing it), it gets easier and easier. Your overall playing will improve a great deal and soon your ability to play what you hear (both physically and in your head) will just happen. At that point you are only limited by your own technique and ability.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jun 11, 2015,
#4
I learn a lot of songs from tabs, but I also figure out some stuff on my own by ear. I think figuring some stuff out on your own will help you remember songs even when learning them from other people's tabs, because you'll begin to see a lot of common patterns/licks/etc. Also if you have a decent ear even if you forget which note is next you will be able to find the next note (or at the very least get pretty close) just because you know what that interval sounds like. This can be very helpful if you are playing a song you haven't played in awhile.

If you want to start learning by ear I would start with some very basic songs and melodies. It can seem a bit tedious if your technical ability is a lot better than your ear, but the only way to improve your ears is to use them. Almost no one can just jump into figuring out complex/fast stuff right away.
Last edited by bptrav at Jun 12, 2015,
#5
Thanks for the info guys. Do you have any ideas of simple songs to learn by ear, just for practice?
#6
Quote by twotooto2jn
Thanks for the info guys. Do you have any ideas of simple songs to learn by ear, just for practice?


Best thing to start of with is stuff you know really, really well. Nursery rhymes you was brought up with, themes to TV shows you love, Christmas carols etc. Basically anything that gets stuck in your head that you can recall at any time. (For instance, Happy Birthday)

Once you've done that, i would personally start looking at pop songs you enjoy (mainly the vocal melodies, but try to find the chords that fit with the melody as well), since they are often pretty straight forward. You know those same songs that gets played on the radio all the time that really gets stuck in your head? Learn those. (For real though, i learned like 30 pop tunes last summer simply by listening to the radio on my way to/from work. Got the songs internalized so much that i could just sit down with my instrument and figure them out in seconds)

I would highly recommend you sing when doing this as well (as mentioned in my previous post), no matter if you have a good voice or not. Just being able to match your guitar up with your voice is a great skill to have, and will allow you to learn parts much more quickly in the future. Once you've got some skill learning this way by ear, you can listen to a recording and sing the guitar/bass/piano/vocal part and instantly play it, and with some theory knowledge the chords will come very quickly as well.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#7
Quote by Sickz
Best thing to start of with is stuff you know really, really well. Nursery rhymes you was brought up with, themes to TV shows you love, Christmas carols etc. Basically anything that gets stuck in your head that you can recall at any time. (For instance, Happy Birthday)

Once you've done that, i would personally start looking at pop songs you enjoy (mainly the vocal melodies, but try to find the chords that fit with the melody as well), since they are often pretty straight forward. You know those same songs that gets played on the radio all the time that really gets stuck in your head? Learn those. (For real though, i learned like 30 pop tunes last summer simply by listening to the radio on my way to/from work. Got the songs internalized so much that i could just sit down with my instrument and figure them out in seconds)

I would highly recommend you sing when doing this as well (as mentioned in my previous post), no matter if you have a good voice or not. Just being able to match your guitar up with your voice is a great skill to have, and will allow you to learn parts much more quickly in the future. Once you've got some skill learning this way by ear, you can listen to a recording and sing the guitar/bass/piano/vocal part and instantly play it, and with some theory knowledge the chords will come very quickly as well.


Good info. Just a question though. When you say sing along, do mean just hum the melody or use "do re mi fa... etc"?
Cheers.
#8
Quote by Dark Wasp
Good info. Just a question though. When you say sing along, do mean just hum the melody or use "do re mi fa... etc"?
Cheers.


Doesn't really matter in my opinion. Solfege (Do re mi fa etc) is used for knowing where you are in the key when learning these things. (do being the root, re being the major second etc)

In my opinion that doesn't matter too much, unless you want to do a lot of sight singing and transcribing from recording directly to notation (without using your instrument in-between).
I personally scat when doing it, because i picked up that habit from studying jazz. I will say though that i suggest actually singing the things rather than humming, (even if you only sing "la la la" or " do do do") because with humming you don't got the same volume as with singing, you don't have the same clarity and it can be hard to hear if you are actually on pitch sometimes. Sing it out loud is a better option in my opinion.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#9
Quote by Sickz
Doesn't really matter in my opinion. Solfege (Do re mi fa etc) is used for knowing where you are in the key when learning these things. (do being the root, re being the major second etc)

In my opinion that doesn't matter too much, unless you want to do a lot of sight singing and transcribing from recording directly to notation (without using your instrument in-between).
I personally scat when doing it, because i picked up that habit from studying jazz. I will say though that i suggest actually singing the things rather than humming, (even if you only sing "la la la" or " do do do") because with humming you don't got the same volume as with singing, you don't have the same clarity and it can be hard to hear if you are actually on pitch sometimes. Sing it out loud is a better option in my opinion.


Cool thanks, thats great information. Appreciate it.
#10
Just learned happy birthday by ear! Thanks so much guys. That was way simpler than I expected. Ear training had always scared me away because I would try songs that were to hard.
#11
If you get stumped, listen for the chord changes and play along with only the root notes. Once you get the changes down pat the other parts will comes easier.
#12
Quote by twotooto2jn
Hey guys, I've been playing guitar for a few years now and I've always just used tabs to learn songs (tab pro when available). So, I was just wondering what all you guys' approaches to learning songs were. I've heard a lot about learning songs by ear.

The point is, how do you guys learn songs?


Do you want to be a real musician? Do you want to be able to write songs? Do you like the idea of being able to hear something on the radio and immediately be able to play it?

If the answer is yes- then stop using tab and start learning songs by ear now. You can still use tab in cases where something is impossible to decipher, but focus on learning by ear.

It will make you a better musician. It's going from paint by numbers to real painting. Lose the training wheels and start diving into the music!
#13
train your ear takes some time. you need to no what tuning the song is played in and at how many hertz other wise you will never have the song write. As far as non commercial tabs a very large percentage of them are wrong I have never seen one that is right. they dont even change the clef to the right instruments. learn what arrangement the song is written =is it 12 bar blues ,jazz 12 bar, turn around progression no 1 and so forth then look at the scales for the progressions. then you will be able to nail someones else's to the shortest quietest note or technique. being able to identify the 7 notes and what frequency is the greatest skill. try to find yourself a set of tuning forks and play them like flashcard style. there is so much more to it but that is all i am going to say now good luck
#14
In some cases when trying to play a song by ear I cannot hear the guitars that well, perhaps due to the production being poor. What can I do in such cases?
#15
Quote by 40xxx04
In some cases when trying to play a song by ear I cannot hear the guitars that well, perhaps due to the production being poor. What can I do in such cases?







        Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

        Quote by Guthrie Govan
        “If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


        Quote by Chick Corea
        "Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
        #16
        Quote by Sickz






              Good suggestions, and I'd also add:

              Try to find good quality live recordings of that song, which can often have very different mixes in terms of instrument volumes than the studio version.
              #17
              Look for songs that have good clean guitars. You said you are trying to practice being able to get some good ear training so the point of this is not to learn your favorite songs (you can do that later) but to learn how to identify chords and sounds and train your brain to hear the changes. If the songs you are using to try do this have large amounts of distortion or the guitars are buried in the mix, choose other songs. This is a learning experience. Start with basic guitar songs that you can hear clearly. I suggest even going old school with something like Creedence Clearwater Revival where it's just basic guitar songs with standard changes done in a very melodic, easy to follow way.
              Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
              Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jun 22, 2015,
              #18
              I use tabs as a main "tool",but if there is a part in the song that is not tabbed right, so you have to use your ears,try starting with slow and steady melodies and try to tab it by yourself,then you can advance to some more tricky bits.