Playing By Ear: Tips & Tricks

Harmonic charts, gregorian modes, pentatonic scales, the mythis and a lot of good tips on how to play by ear!

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The first thing you've got to do when you sit down with a record is finding out the key of the tune, because the other notes usually follow it. Harmonically speakin you'll have this chart with the notes that are used in one key. PS - The 6 note is the minor relative!!
key  2    3    4   5   6    7
C -- Dm -- Em -- F -- G -- Am -- B
D -- Em -- F#m - G -- A -- Bm -- C#
E -- F#m - G#m - A -- B -- C#m - D#
F -- Gm -- Am -- Bb - C -- Dm -- E
G -- Am -- Bm -- C -- D -- Em -- F#
A -- Bm -- C#m - D -- E -- F#m - G#
B -- C#m - D#m - E -- F# - G#m - A#
There are some myths regarding this. No, it is not always the first note striked and a yes, a song can have more then one key(you can exally have 5 differents modulations in a song). How the hell do I find out whats the main note? If the music isn't instrumental a good tip is getting the first singed note. If it is not, you can try playing the major scale of it key, the onde that sounds better is the winner (these is also a good way of finding out if it's a major or a minor key too). If you can get one single chord of a song, you can, by exclusion, fin out it's key. For exemple, if you've got a F#m, the key of a tune can not be C. It will just not fit. And now, what to do to get the solo or melody of a song? Scales, scales, scales. If you are reading this, you should probably know a lot of them, if not, the paragraphs below should help you understand a litle bit of the 2 most famous kinds of scale. - the pentatonic scale is formed by 5 notes; the key note, the 2, the 3, the 5 and the 6(in minor pentatonics you should start playing from this last note). EX: in the key of C, the pentatonic is formed by C, D, E, G and A. - the gregorian modes are most complex scales. They are derived from the major, and each shape will be played in one specific note of the harmonic scale. EX: The eaolian mode is the sixth shape, so, in the key of A, it should be played in F#m. Perception is really important dor a musician. A good way to develop it is trying to get what's the note in everything 24.11.2003. Like, the sound you hear when picking up a phone is an Ab, a cup crashing is a C. This can help you a lot in your journey, and it can also be really fun! As time goes by, you will develop a certain intuition for playing by ear, and some things became automatic. Untill then, keep practicing and most importantilly, hear a lot of music, because your ear will get more intimed of the sounds. If you've got any doubt in this or any guitar points, or if you just wanna chat, mail me metal_girl@hotmail.com. Thanks for reading, I hope I've helped. Keep rocking!

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    earlearl
    Come on, you could of put a bit more info in it. But it was still pretty good. Earlearl : )
    AusSie dUde
    lilrebel07 first you sed you were playing for 8 years then u sed u were playing for 6 years
    TheSeventhSon
    lilrebel07 : Keys are NOT determined by the first note of a song. I mean sure sometimes by COINCIDENCE it happens to be the first note of the song but not often. I've taken music classes at school for 8 years now and I play 5 different instruments plus sing.... POSTED: 05/24/2005 - 04:17 pm / quote | lilrebel07 : Sorry, But you cannot tell the key of a song by the first note of the song. Some songs by coincidence start on the same note as the key that its in but that is just coincidence. To tell what key a song Is in you have to know how to read SHEET MUSIC and know what the key signature means. I've been in Music for about 6 years now and I play numerous different instruments and sing....so I know what I am talking about.
    You realise that in 1 day you lost two years of schooling eh? Oh yeah, alright article...
    121lespaul
    14GreenDay wrote: Spanner: Or you could just do it by ear aka what this lesson is about i don't think aka works in the sentence you wrote
    hahahaha i found this extremely amuzing hahaha
    14GreenDay
    Spanner: Or you could just do it by ear aka what this lesson is about i don't think aka works in the sentence you wrote
    lilrebel07
    Keys are NOT determined by the first note of a song. I mean sure sometimes by COINCIDENCE it happens to be the first note of the song but not often. I've taken music classes at school for 8 years now and I play 5 different instruments plus sing....
    lilrebel07
    Sorry, But you cannot tell the key of a song by the first note of the song. Some songs by coincidence start on the same note as the key that its in but that is just coincidence. To tell what key a song Is in you have to know how to read SHEET MUSIC and know what the key signature means. I've been in Music for about 6 years now and I play numerous different instruments and sing....so I know what I am talking about.
    mbself73
    You absolutely do not have to have the sheet music to determine the key. It is also not the first note of a song by default. You have to identify the tonic to determine the key of a song by ear. Many methods for doing this as far as hearing strategies. I would suggest that no matter how many years you have been in music, a college level ear training course and music theory courses along with sight singing would help end your dependence on sheet music. BTW, this particular lesson is pretty awful, so I am not defending the lesson.