#1
Hey everyone. I've taken some advice I've gotten on this forum and decided to start learning songs by ear. The song I've decided to learn first is Porcupine Tree's Mellotron Scratch.



I'm just wondering if anyone has any tips on starting to learn by ear, because right now its a lot of trial and error. I think the song is in D, but I'm not sure.

I'm also using audacity to slow it down but it doesnt seem to be helping much. My ear is truly terrible.

Thanks for any help.
#2
I think you are choosing a song that is a little difficult to start with, not difficult in the playing sense but for someone trying to learn how to hear chords and train your ears you picked a song that has quite a few suspended chords and non standard chord inversions. Pick really simple songs with standard major or minor chords. Start really simple and build up to something like this song. That's just my two cents.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jun 22, 2017,
#3
Internalize the sound of the part that you are trying to figure out. This means, know the sounds that you are looking for before you start trying different notes on your instrument. It probably makes sense to learn to sing the pitches - that's a good way of internalizing the sound.

Learn about keys and chord functions. This way you have some kind of a reference (for example if the song is in the key of D major, you can use the D major scale as a reference). This is not absolutely necessary but it will definitely help, and you will start noticing certain common patterns in different songs.

And yes, the song is in the key of D major, but there are a lot of non-diatonic chords in it (and a lot of the chords are not basic triads) so I don't think it will be a good song to start with if you want to learn something by ear.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jun 23, 2017,
#4
Quote by Rickholly74
I think you are choosing a song that is a little difficult to start with, not difficult in the playing sense but for someone trying to learn how to hear chords and train your ears you picked a song that has quite a few suspended chords and non standard chord inversions. Pick really simple songs with standard major or minor chords. Start really simple and build up to something like this song. That's just my two cents.

100% agree with this - funnily enough I answered a very similar question about a month ago so I'll just copy past the answer here as it's exactly the same situation.

"Start with really simple melodies, stuff that is literally burned into your brain. And i mean simple, like happy birthday and twinkle twinkle little star. Why? Because you've been hearing those melodies since before you could talk, they're practically part of your DNA. That makes them the perfect starting point..and the fact that you actually know them as single note melodies also helps.

Picking out a melody on your guitar is a skill, but too many people jump in and try to work out a full guitar song by ear then wonder why it's a struggle. It's a common mistake to go "I'm pretty good at guitar but my ear sucks so I'm going to try and learn to play Cliffs of Dover by ear". Like everything else your ears need to be trained, and if you've never tried working stuff out by ear before then you need to start right at the beginning. Working out a simple melody by ear is tricky enough at the beginning and you have to approach it logically - if you can't figure out a simple melody like happy birthday, how are you going to manage to work out a more complex guitar part that you're not only less familiar with, but also have the added complication of all the other instruments and vocals to distract you."
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#5
steven seagull +1.   1000%  

Mr.Dissonant 

And you need to add singing (even just for yourself).  For example, (assuming you're practicing recognising the first three pitches of a major scale), you should try singing your choice for 1, and then tell yourself to sing 3, say, then 1, then 2.  And so on.  But make melodies out of it.  Or imagine the sound of the first pitch, and tell yourself to sing 2 then 3 then 1.  

Then add the 4 and 5 of the scale.  Repeat same sort of ideas.  

Then listen to some nursery rhymes. or national anthems.  SIng a part, and try and figure what the intervals are there (e.gf. Frere Jacques) bycomparing with the sounds you've learned and sang previously.

If you don't do this, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

If you do, you'll enjoy the rapid progress you'll get, and just the fact you are doing it means you are achieving your goals ... of practicing what's needed at this time to move to the next stage.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jun 23, 2017,
#6
Thanks for all the help guys, I'll start with something with less complex harmonies. If there are any Porcupine Tree fans here, do you have any suggestions on good songs to start with. I already know how to play Trains and Stars die unfortunately, they seem pretty simple.

P.S. Steven Wilson is love, Steven Wilson is life.
#7
I've found that the easiest way to transcribe songs by ear is by first figuring out the chord progression. So like others have already suggested, maybe try transcribing an easier song first (ex. a song that just uses chords).
#8
OP - first, I have to commend you on wanting to become a better musician.

Sounds like you need "solfege" lessons, i.e. "ear training".

https://online.berklee.edu/courses/basic-ear-training-1



I remember Vai had a good tutorial on that, the idea was to be able to pick minor/major/dim/etc. tonalities and chords and it takes a lot of work.
Before you go on and try a Porcupine Tree song, I'd suggest you do the exercises and master that first. Start with AC/DC or Rolling Stones song after that and then move up to harder material.
#9
I'm going to echo the above comments - learning a prog song by ear to start is a bad idea - straight up. I'd avoid anything with full chords all together to be honest.

I strongly recommend you start with something very easy - Black Sabbath paranoid album for example - very obvious guitar lines and obvious riffs without any harmonic clutter.  Something like Iron Man or Paranoid. It may seem trivial, but working your "ear" muscles is not easy and it's important to start small and obvious.   

Not sure what your musical interests are, but I would suggest picking music without many overdubbed layers to start. 
#11
Mr.Dissonant Not really a thing you can learn, but if you have it you can improve it. Start by trying to notice small details in songs. 

EX: Try to hear whether the guitarist is using a pick or just pull off's and hammer on's.