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> How Do You Learn Cover Songs?, If there's not a GMC lesson for it :p
Daniel Realpe
post Jan 17 2010, 05:58 PM
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It think this is one of the value of music theory, ear trainging, sight-singing and technical abilities.

Personally, these tools really make it easy for me to learn a song I want to play because everything in popular music (that includes metal, rock, blues, jazz) happens in a diatonic context, so once you get familiar with diatonic musical system everything kind of falls into place. Of course there's more challenging stuff than other.

For me chords are harder to learn by ear than melodies, but then again with practice you really develop a sense of placing your listening mind in the diatonic subdivisions so you can identify what intervals are within a chord, yet that is a melodic way to approach it. The harmonic way to approach (more effective in chords of course) is by feeling what is the mode and texture of the chord.

That is the melodic and harmonic part. Then there is the rhythm! then there's the technique being used! (what string is being played, legato, picked) then there's what the source of sound is! (guitar, amp, etc)

Any thoughts on this? how do you do it?


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JamesT
post Jan 18 2010, 12:43 AM
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Thinking back to when I used to do a lot of cover tunes, believe it or not, it was back when cassette tapes were about the best thing going. I know that I wore out the play and rewind buttons on more than a few tape machines. I would listen to a couple seconds of a solo, then find the notes on the guitar, rewind to hear it again, repeat until I got it right. It was much more difficult in the days before I knew the fretboard well enough. For chords, I would listen mostly to the bass guitar to find the root note of the chord for each measure. I only figured out to play major or minor chords depending on the key of the song after I took a theory and ear training class in college where we studied diatonic scales and harmony. Before that, I would frequently play all fifths (power chords) because I couldn't figure out why certain chords just didn't fit. tongue.gif . Music is much easier to comprehend for sure when you know how and why the notes fit together. Nowadays, if I'm learning a new song, I can usually tell where the notes are going to be right away, and I can usually tell what key a tune is just by jamming along with it and hearing what notes fit. The technical part of playing has always been my weakest area ... getting especially my picking hand to cooperate. Of course, theory and ear training are a never ending thing but you can get a huge "bang for the buck" just by taking a one semester course in them.

As for tone, I was a trial and error thing for me, and also sometimes just my friends showing me how to get a certain sound. I played for about a year before I had an amp. I was plugging it directly into my stereo, which really sounds thin and flat. Then I got a solid state (transistor) amp that was super clean and loud. I could crank it so loud my ears almost bled biggrin.gif and still not get that sound I was looking for. First I discovered the MXR distortion plus, then basically one effect at a time, chorous, phaser, flanger, reverb, and delay, until I basically had an idea what each of them did. Only after I bought a tube amp with a gain control in the preamp did I learn how good and tight it could sound. Funny, now I'm back to using all modeling amps. I don't even own an amp these days. I should probably get one again someday just to piss off the neighbors biggrin.gif .

As for legato, muting, bends, vibrato, (I'll call this "articulation" in general), that came mostly from my friends showing me how to do stuff. But I'm still learning to do vibrato the right way as I only switched to the better technique after seeing it explained here on GMC. Man, I wish that I had GMC back then. I could probably be a much better player now if I had had such great influences as you guys.

This post has been edited by JamesT: Jan 18 2010, 12:55 AM


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Staffy
post Jan 18 2010, 01:23 AM
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Ummm, interesting topic. In the old day's I've tried to simply cover the songs exactly, but nowadays I rather prefer to do personalized versions instead. In order to capture whats going You have to train Your ear, a good knowledge of different positions of chords and how they sound with different "colours" is a must. Speeding down things helps a lot if its fast pieces, then a good theory knowledge also applies, I've listened a lot to jazz, so identify chord progressions in ordinary music is fairly easy for me... I also play the piano which I prefer to use to transcribe other than guitar-stuff. In identifying a chord, the most important is to identify the bass note first - and then the rest of the notes. Commonly the bass play's either root, third or fifth and sometimes the 7'th, and rarely other notes in general music.
Identifying melody's is a matter of recognizing intervals in my beliefs, and can be trained by singing them....
Rhytm may be the hardest part since there are players that not care for a good timing - or simply plays that advanced patterns very fast so it will be nearly impossible to transcribe. I'm thinking of mixed rhytms like groups of 7, 9 , 5 and so on here. But also here is slowing down the key to success....And I always starts with writing the form and the chords on a lead sheet so I can get an owerview whats going in throughout the whole song.... Thats my approach....

//Staffay


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Vasilije Vukmiro...
post Jan 18 2010, 11:59 AM
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Most important part for me is listening, listening, listening. It's way easier to learn it when you have it in you head, so as to say! smile.gif


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superize
post Jan 18 2010, 12:29 PM
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I use tabs to learn the song and then i correct the misstakes when playing it with the original song


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MickeM
post Jan 18 2010, 04:05 PM
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If I can learn by ear that's fine. If I can't I google for a chord progression.
I don't aim for note by note perfection but rather own flavor.


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Chokehold
post Jan 18 2010, 05:12 PM
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I do it mostly by ear, but I don't learn songs to often so.


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Daniel Realpe
post Jan 22 2010, 01:59 AM
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thanks for the great input guys, it's interesting to see your point of view in this matter.


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Ivan Zecic
post Jan 22 2010, 07:02 PM
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I always learn by ear, but sometimes the video can be helpful if you want to see where something was played (talking about guitar music of course biggrin.gif )


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 23 2010, 01:15 AM
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I start by making small pieces/tasks. Then I learn bit by bit, and connect them later. Listen to chord progression first, find the chords, keys, scales and then transcribe it by ear.


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Daniel Realpe
post Feb 4 2010, 03:59 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Jan 23 2010, 01:15 AM) *
I start by making small pieces/tasks. Then I learn bit by bit, and connect them later. Listen to chord progression first, find the chords, keys, scales and then transcribe it by ear.

yeah that's a good advice


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Damir Puh
post Feb 4 2010, 04:32 PM
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I listen to the track a bunch of times and then I try to find some videos and tabs. Then I just sit and learn the song by ear, using the videos and tabs as a reference (usually I trust my ears more rolleyes.gif ). Half-speed player helps a lot on faster songs, so I use that a lot too. Finally, I decide if I'm going to improvise over some sections or I'll walk the note-for-note road. smile.gif


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Daniel Realpe
post Feb 4 2010, 04:59 PM
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QUOTE (Damir Puh @ Feb 4 2010, 04:32 PM) *
I listen to the track a bunch of times and then I try to find some videos and tabs. Then I just sit and learn the song by ear, using the videos and tabs as a reference (usually I trust my ears more rolleyes.gif ). Half-speed player helps a lot on faster songs, so I use that a lot too. Finally, I decide if I'm going to improvise over some sections or I'll walk the note-for-note road. smile.gif


I think that's very important, to trust your ears and not only rely on the tabs


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timrobwall
post Feb 4 2010, 06:15 PM
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My approach:

Start with the basic chord structure -- it is the skeleton. The internet can be a guide, but it is unreliable.
Listen to what is happening rhythmically with the guitar arrangement -- riffs, fills, embellishments, etc. These aren't always immediately apparent, and the band will sound better if you can isolate that and duplicate it, rather than just chugging chords.
On solos -- first, listen to the solo and learn it so you can sing it -- before you even pick up the guitar. Most of the time when I have trouble learning a solo I haven't internalized the melody, phrasing,, etc. Also, understand what is happening in the solo from a theory point of view. This forum helped me understand the importance of that. don't just be playing dots on the guitar -- is the guitarist playing major pentatonic, complete major scale, dorian mode, covering the changes, etc. This is a great learning approach, and also a big help against brain freeze when you're on stage at a gig at midnight playing your 40th song.

Panning can help to isolate the guitar parts. I use the A/V controls feature in Quicktime, which lets you slow down the replay.

Try to find a live performance of the song by the band/performer on YouTube. I've had a ton of "so THAT'S how he's doing that" moments by closely watching this.

Hope this helps.

Good luck!
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Sensible Jones
post Feb 4 2010, 07:14 PM
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I think everybody has a slightly different approach as they all 'hear' that same piece of music very slightly differently from each other!
Personally, I tend to pick out the Root Bass notes that follow the chord progression, that then gives me the Key of the piece and then (Chordal-ly) everything should follow from there, including being surprised by the odd 'outside' or 'borrowed' chord. smile.gif smile.gif

I can't really talk about Leads etc as I'm only just getting into that side of playing!
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Alex87
post Feb 4 2010, 10:22 PM
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When I want to learn a new song, I usually listen to it alot to begin with. Just listen, and no thinking.
After some time I start to memorize the melody perfect and also singing voice. I sing the melody (or if there are certain things such as a specific piano part or guitar part, that is playing a certain thing) and also what the singer sings. I use solfeggio to write it down on sheetpaper by singing it, and hearing the intervals.

After that I've done that, I listen to what the bass plays and writes it down aswell, by singing intervals. Then for the chord parts I use my instrument to define position (if guitar), inversion if piano.

Then I transpose the melody and bass parts I've written down already, to the correct key (I always write it down as if it was in C major first).

It takes quiet some time in the beginning, but it is very satisfying for me to do it this way since I use my ears alot. And no, I don't do this if I'm lazy, then I just pickup my guitar and jam along until I figure it out tongue.gif

But my advice is, use your ears smile.gif


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Daniel Realpe
post Feb 17 2010, 03:26 PM
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that advice on hearing the root bass is really good, that helped me a lot°!


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