#1
I wouldn't say I'm shitty at learning by ear. But I'd like to be better. I can figure some easy stuff out but I don't know how.

Any tips appreciated.

Also, how do I go about writing songs? Metal songs.
Do I just come up with riffs and go with it?
Well, you can call me crazy
You can call me wrong, 'cause
See I was born a liar, albatross
Fly on, fly on
#2
Quote by Fryderyczek
I wouldn't say I'm shitty at learning by ear. But I'd like to be better. I can figure some easy stuff out but I don't know how.

Any tips appreciated.


Just keep learning easy stuff. Your ear will constantly get better. You could also sing the tones while practicing scales and arpeggios to form stronger connections between the tone and the name. If you know what E sounds like, and you hear an E, you can find it on the guitar. In my opinion dedicated ear trainers rarely work wonders. Learning songs, no matter how easy, do work wonders.

Quote by Fryderyczek

Also, how do I go about writing songs? Metal songs.
Do I just come up with riffs and go with it?


You need to know some basics about song structure and dynamic+tempo changes. The best way to get better at this is to learn and analyze songs you like. Coming up with a bunch of riffs is a great start, but those riffs are useless unless you know how to arrange them and make them interesting in context. So, try to figure out what your favourite songs do to sound so amazing, and borrow some ideas.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#3
Quote by Kevätuhri
Just keep learning easy stuff. Your ear will constantly get better. You could also sing the tones while practicing scales and arpeggios to form stronger connections between the tone and the name. If you know what E sounds like, and you hear an E, you can find it on the guitar. In my opinion dedicated ear trainers rarely work wonders. Learning songs, no matter how easy, do work wonders.


You need to know some basics about song structure and dynamic+tempo changes. The best way to get better at this is to learn and analyze songs you like. Coming up with a bunch of riffs is a great start, but those riffs are useless unless you know how to arrange them and make them interesting in context. So, try to figure out what your favorite songs do to sound so amazing, and borrow some ideas.

Know any easy stuff?
Well, you can call me crazy
You can call me wrong, 'cause
See I was born a liar, albatross
Fly on, fly on
#5
All I can say about Songwriting to you is if you've ever said 'I hate Pop music', 'Urgh that's so generic' or 'That chord progression is so cliche' you aren't ready to write music yet. Learn how chords work, how certain degrees of the scale sound against certain chords, why you like certain songs. Look at how popular songs are structured and follow that, a riff is only one section of a song, and songs should never be a series of riffs.
#6
Learn about scale degrees and chord functions. Being able to name the sounds you hear helps. Also, just keep on learning stuff by ear.

If you want to write metal songs, listen to a lot of metal and analyze it. Yes, you should come up with riffs, but pay attention to transitions. And this is where listening to music helps. Figure out how other people do transitions. You shouldn't just put five different riffs together. That usually doesn't work (though that's how bands like Megadeth clearly wrote some of their songs - but to me that sounds pretty boring).

Quote by CelestialGuitar
All I can say about Songwriting to you is if you've ever said 'I hate Pop music', 'Urgh that's so generic' or 'That chord progression is so cliche' you aren't ready to write music yet.

I disagree. Well, I agree with the first one. You shouldn't hate music just because it belongs to a certain genre. But there's nothing wrong with disliking songs, or even disliking (most of) a certain genre. For example if you simply hate the sound of a distorted guitar and growling, it makes it really difficult to enjoy death metal. You also don't have to listen to One Direction or Justin Bieber if you simply don't like them. Also, certain songs do sound very generic, and using certain chord progressions and song structures do contribute to that. Of course you can use the same chords in a less generic way. It's not in the chords or the song structure alone.

Of course a songwriter should be open minded and not disregard everything that uses certain chords or a certain song structure or that belongs to a certain genre. But if you don't like something, why listen to it?
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#7
Quote by CelestialGuitar
Look at how popular songs are structured and follow that, a riff is only one section of a song, and songs should never be a series of riffs.


Never say never. I like some songs that are really a series of riffs, rather than the usual verse-chorus-verse-chorus. It's better if there's some sense of progression, of course. Something like 'Suicide & Redemption'.
#8
My tips for both learning by ear and song writing are the same. Keep doing it. Pick a few songs. Try getting them down by ear. Or even just certain parts. Then check on UG if your version matches the tabs. Your version may even be better.

With song writing, I can also not stress enough the importance of composing utter crap. Everyone, bar musical prodigies, started out writing crap. Make songs with popular chord progressions. Write melody lines and riffs that sound suspiciously like every other band out there. Just keep your output steady. Eventually, you'll get better both theoretically and technically. Even legendary song writers still produce poor music, the just have a better sh*t to hit ratio. Not all great songs are complicated. Not every song can be a world beater. Accept that fact and just have fun creating.
Guitars:
EVH Wolfgang Special LH
Gibson Les Paul Studio 2013
Ibanez EW20LASE-NT LH

Effects:
BOSS GT-100

Amps:
Fender Hot Rod DeVille 410
Laney IRT Studio + 112 cab
#9
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I disagree. Well, I agree with the first one. You shouldn't hate music just because it belongs to a certain genre. But there's nothing wrong with disliking songs, or even disliking (most of) a certain genre. For example if you simply hate the sound of a distorted guitar and growling, it makes it really difficult to enjoy death metal.


Death Metal artists aren't paid ridiculous amounts of money, write some of the most well known songs in the world, nor do they have a complete and total mastery of songwriting. If you want to be a great songwriter, look at what's popular and what's making money and see what you can learn from it. 'Generic' can often make a song sound refined, polished and professional and appeals to listeners. At the end of the day, music is made to be enjoyed, so it's better to learn from music that millions enjoy, rather than thousands.
#10
Quote by Fryderyczek
I wouldn't say I'm shitty at learning by ear. But I'd like to be better. I can figure some easy stuff out but I don't know how.

Any tips appreciated.

Also, how do I go about writing songs? Metal songs.
Do I just come up with riffs and go with it?


These are actually related questions. There are basically two ways to write songs.

You can just sort of stumble around on your guitar until you find something you like, or you can hear something in your head, and then find it on your guitar.

I can't help you with the former method, but, to be honest, in my experience it generally results in crap songs. YMMV. The latter method, however, requires that you train your ear.

Ear training really has nothing to do with your ear. It's about training your brain to think in precisely defined pitches. Our brains have to learn how to process different sounds. This is part of why Mandarin can be very hard for English speakers - we don't know how to process the tonal aspects of the language for information - and it's also why, say, Japanese people struggle with the difference between an L and an R sound: to their brains, L and R are the same sound. They haven't learned to process them differently.

People with bad ears don't know how to process tones precisely. They recognize that something different is going on, but they don't really understand what. Remember, maybe, when you were staring out and trying to tune your guitar and you literally couldn't tell which string was higher or lower in pitch? No fun.

But because ear training is really about your brain, that means you use that second songwriting method UNTIL you train your ears. You can't think of music until your brain knows how to hold music.

So let's start with ear training. Here are three steps that, if you do them regularly, WILL improve your ear unless you are literally tone deaf (which is something that afflicts a very small percentage of the population. But do not assume you are tone deaf unless you have tried to train your ear for a while, using this technique, and failed).

FIRST: Transcript simple melodies that you know by heart on your guitar. Hunting and pecking is fine. Christmas carols, nursery rhymes, and movie themes are good sources for this. When starting out you may find this incredibly frustrating, but that's okay. It's NORMAL.

SECOND: Download the functional ear trainer, a free download from miles.be. Use it regularly. Again, early on, this will be difficult. There will be times when it gives you an exercise and you feel like, well, like I just said a word in Mandarin and am asking you what it means. Stick with it.

THIRD: After you've done that for a while, you want to start working on transcribing more and more complex things, with less hunting and pecking. The book "Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician" by Wyatt et al will help. It is a book of structured transcription exercises, that you do with a pen and paper, not your instrument. You'll get more out of this book if you do the other two steps first.

FOURTH: Keep transcribing! When you want to learn a song, don't just look up the tab. Try to find the tonic. Try to figure it out. Sometimes look at a youtube video of an alternate version - it's okay to look at the musician's hands as a crutch. As you get better, you'll often find that if you can lock in on ONE chord by cheating in that way, the rest will fall into place.

This is a years-long process. You might use the functional ear trainer every other day for six months, and still be learning and growing with it. There is not some magic threshold above which you can pick out songs and below with you can't. Instead, what you'll find is that is just slowly gets easier, and you can slowly do more and more complex stuff, if you keep working at it. You'll have some surprising jumps in ability, where one day you can do something easily that was impossible yesterday, and you'll have some plateaus, where you feel stuck at the exact same place for weeks. Both of those are normal.

Okay, so now, spinning this back to songwriting.

Essentially, having developed your ear, now what you want to do is prime the pump: fill your brain with interesting music. FIGURE IT OUT BY EAR - this gets it truly and deeply inside of you in a way that reading tabs doesn't.

And then set some time aside to just sort of mess around and see what comes out of you. Let your brain guide you - listen to it. Don't try to think your way through along the lines of, "Oh, well, okay, what chords are in my key, here? Why don't I pick one and see how it sounds?" Rather, listen - try to "hear" in your head the sound that you want to play next, and only then look for it on your guitar.
#11
Thanks everyone. You helped
Well, you can call me crazy
You can call me wrong, 'cause
See I was born a liar, albatross
Fly on, fly on
#12
My advice would be to play a lot! lol. Also figure out if you can actually tell pitch change and aren't tone deaf. Some people aren't able to learn by ear because they cant differentiate between notes when they are in a chord. In other words you should try to listen to one chord that is played and be able to go on the guitar and replicate each note individually that forms that chord. If you can do that then you can figure out anything even if its not how the "tab" says that it is. Personally I find tabs to be useless because when you are trying to learn a ripping lead you will be staring at pages and pages of measures of music transcribed into tabs and its impossible for me to learn that way because there is no feel to it. So yeah pick out notes and see if you can do that first. After that train your ear to realize how bends and vibrato sound and after you have played long enough you will be able to listen and replicate that as well. (that takes more time) Anywho good luck dude!
#13
Quote by CelestialGuitar
Death Metal artists aren't paid ridiculous amounts of money, write some of the most well known songs in the world, nor do they have a complete and total mastery of songwriting. If you want to be a great songwriter, look at what's popular and what's making money and see what you can learn from it. 'Generic' can often make a song sound refined, polished and professional and appeals to listeners. At the end of the day, music is made to be enjoyed, so it's better to learn from music that millions enjoy, rather than thousands.

Well, depends on what you want to do. If you want to write pop music, then yes, you should listen to pop. But TS wants to write metal. I know your approach to songwriting may be way different than mine or TS's (and it most likely is). I don't write songs to make a lot of money or to please others. I write music that I like. I don't really enjoy generic songs. That's not something I want to write (unless it's joke music). I'm not trying to appeal to people. Of course I like it when other people like my music, but I write music for primarily myself.

I think it's all about whether you are writing the music because you enjoy it or if it's pure business. It can of course be both, and I'm sure a lot of well known bands are both - they started by making music they enjoy, but it also appealed to people.


I think it's best to learn from music you enjoy rather than from music you don't enjoy. If death metal is what you enjoy, I think you should also write death metal, even though the audience may not be that big. You'll just get bored if you start writing pop music or whatever if you don't like it.

I think music would be extremely boring if everybody only tried to appeal to the masses.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115