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> Learning Songs By Ear
Cosmin Lupu
post Aug 15 2011, 06:29 PM
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What's your approach on learning a song by ear? Tyler's take on Marco Sfogli's song inspired me to wrote this post (congratz again Tyler!) as i am interested on how you guys approach this matter.

My way is usually the following:

1) Listen to the song at least 20 times in my headphones so I can hear as much as possible out of it
2) Find the harmony parts and the rhythmic phrasing for each instrument I need to understand
3) Find the lead parts (I usually learn to sing them first)
4) Learn the articulation elements used in the song
5) If it's technically challenging, put it in the 'Amazing Slowdowner' and start practicing it at a tempo where I can feel really relaxed with it.
6) I raise the tempo 5 units each time, until I can play it at the original tempo respecting all the articulation elements and staying groovie
7) If I have to perform it, I try to find the song parts where I can move and see what kind of moves go with the groove.
8) Exercise the moves while playing at a slow tempo until I feel comfy doing it
9) Getting used to the idea that I'm going to make mistakes on stage but I'll have an awesome time regardless of that, and I am going to transmit my message tongue.gif


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Brandon Earman
post Aug 15 2011, 07:06 PM
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I recently got Amazing Slowdowner software. It is well worth the $50. I just take the songs lick by lick and slow them down to about 50% speed. ASD has a very easy to use interface and I can loop the licks exactly how I want to to the millisecond.

I am making it a point to never look at tabs again, except with complex licks/chords.

This post has been edited by Brandon Earman: Aug 15 2011, 07:07 PM


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TylerT
post Aug 15 2011, 07:17 PM
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For the cover I posted, I just listened to the song a lot to have a general idea of how things flow than just did it lick by lick.

But now I am about halfway through learning my next song Still Hurts - Also by Marco Sfogli I realized I needed a program so I downloaded transcribe! (Much like the amazing slow downer) and it helps a lot!!


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 15 2011, 09:05 PM
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It depends on the song really, some songs I can learn while the band is playing, at the end of the song I already know how to play it. Some songs will require a bit more analysis. I usually do from-the-ground-up method. This means I learn the arrangement (into-verse-chorus etc) of the song, then I start with every of these components, sit down with the guitar, and just - learn it smile.gif


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Cosmin Lupu
post Aug 15 2011, 10:37 PM
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QUOTE (TylerT @ Aug 15 2011, 06:17 PM) *
For the cover I posted, I just listened to the song a lot to have a general idea of how things flow than just did it lick by lick.

But now I am about halfway through learning my next song Still Hurts - Also by Marco Sfogli I realized I needed a program so I downloaded transcribe! (Much like the amazing slow downer) and it helps a lot!!


My my biggrin.gif My fav song from Marco! biggrin.gif


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TylerT
post Aug 15 2011, 10:41 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Aug 15 2011, 05:37 PM) *
My my biggrin.gif My fav song from Marco! biggrin.gif


SO amazing!!! One of the greatest players out there for sure! biggrin.gif


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K1R
post Aug 15 2011, 10:51 PM
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1) I listen to the song as much as I need to know its structure and the melody.
2) I learn the main riff.
3) I try to find out wich scale was used for this song, to make learning the song easier.
4) I learn the whole rhytm guitar part, so I have the song without leads.
5) I learn lead parts.
6) I learn solo.
7) I usually play gtp file and original mp3 at the same time, it is good to check if you tabbed the song correctly.

If something is played too fast, so I can't hear it, I slowdown it in Reaper.

What is Amazing slowdowner? I usually slowdown songs in Reaper is Amazing slowdowner much better?


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Aug 16 2011, 12:27 AM
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hey! I didn't know about the Amazing Slow downer... great tool! smile.gif

I don't have a method to do it... I learn songs by ear in different ways but I think that Cosmin's method is a perfect guide.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Aug 16 2011, 09:17 AM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Aug 15 2011, 11:27 PM) *
hey! I didn't know about the Amazing Slow downer... great tool! smile.gif

I don't have a method to do it... I learn songs by ear in different ways but I think that Cosmin's method is a perfect guide.


Thank you Gabe! I just tried to sum up all the necessary details to nail a song for good tongue.gif


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HungryForHeaven
post Aug 16 2011, 09:26 AM
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About slowing down. I use Guitar Rig, which has a "tape deck" that can change tempo (and pitch). Also great for practicing over backing tracks at lower speed.

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superize
post Aug 16 2011, 09:28 AM
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My approach is that i usually listen to the song and as soon as i get a clue about what is beeing played i try it out on the guitar and then it just continues from there


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Daniel Realpe
post Aug 16 2011, 05:06 PM
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ASD is great for fast passages!

And also you only use the same scales so you only need to fill in the gaps


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Twinbroz
post Aug 18 2011, 02:46 AM
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I trancribe 100% of the time and I loveeeee it, I rather trancribe a piece myself then be handed a tab. Not to brag but with a lot of experiance and repetition it becomes fairly easy. Here's my take on getting close to perfect on the song inside and out.

1) Listen to the song multiple times with headphones. (You can hear more because the sound is compressed)

2) Experiment with the song, by this I mean listen for notes that rattle or ring out to learn what possible tuning it is.

3.) Do your research! Take shortcuts to figuring out the song by listening to the bands others songs to maybe learn what they do often. For example, types of bends, postions and scales etc.

4.) Possible search youtube for a visual standing point. There could possible be a live of the guitarist or musician playing it.

5.) Listen to the song in different parts. Break it into backing(rhyhtm) lead, harmonies, and other possible instruments being played. Focus on those parts individually.

Actually starting the process.

6.) Download Transcribe or Amazing Slower Downer and Audacity. These tools help tremendously because they do things we simple can't. Transcribe and Audacity can both slow down songs without changing its pitch and isolate the lead parts of the song by frequencies making it much easier to hear possible things that are drowned by drums and synths. (Let me know if you want to know how to do this)

7.) Start working on the chords supporting the lead of the song, it helps you figure if its mixed with the actual riff or seperate. Also chords are the majority case of most songs, in most cases. Learn the backing to the song first. For chords listen to the lowest notes. Then listen and practice your intervals to determine what other notes are being played in that chord. Some chords over time really stand out and are really obvious. Figure out where the chord could possible be played because often chords could. Can be played in multiple positions. Anys riffs that are in the backing stay tuned because they could be possible hints to other parts of the song. If they repeat, that's another section down.

8.) Working on the leads to me is the usually easier part with my approach. From the getco I already start in Transcribe at the halfed speed of 50% and Transcible allows the simple click of the spacebar to replay where you last clicked the mouse.When listening to anything in slow motion you can determine where the note is being played on the fretboard. With guitar the same note can be played multiple times in different positions and still sound the same due to tone/disortion/compression so it gets really tricky. Usually I start with a random start point of the starting note and play around with it. If I feel I am moving postions too freuquent and its almost physically impossible to play fast or at normal speed start somewhere else and try to find where its easiest to play it. Because most of the time the composer himself will find the most logical way to play it.

9.) When working with leads, pay attention to any notes that particulary are around the 5th fret because it could one be the string above just fretted open or the opposite and just following the scale that was being played. If the intervals are to big it could either be one string skipping if it is sounding picked and cutting or two it could be tapping if it sounds hammered on or has a legato feel to it. Last but not least if the interval is wide it could possible be opens followed by the next note. For example '10 - 12 - 10 - 0 - 9 - 10 - 9 - 0' in tab format.

10.) I'm slow motion not only can you hear the notes and what's going on more clearly but you can also hear the little things that connect the song such as phrasing. Vibrato, slides, bends and other things that give away soo many clues as to where they are on the fretboard and more. For example if you listen closely, you can actually hear scales runs and how many notes are being played per string. Listening to bends in slow motion also helps you improve your own vibrato/bend to know how high to bend and where to come back to. It has made me the guitar player I am today.

11.) Next transcribe the harmonies to the song if it has them, harmonies can be heard a lot easier when slowed down, sometimes even down to 25% speed. Figuring out harmonies helps you determine what is being played and what's next. Often people play the combination of the orginal track and the harmonies only because they cannot seperate and differentiate what's going on at that part. By learning the harmonies you can mentally seperate them and figure out what's mainly being played.

If you've got to this point you've probably obtained a lot of knowledge on how to transcribe songs much easier and accurately. Normally when I transcribe sometimes I will literally spend hours/days on the same riff/solo until I am certain that it is perfect/almost perfect if physically do-able. Over time these things really become much easier and should be looked at as a process/routine. Hope this helped. smile.gif

This post has been edited by Twinbroz: Aug 18 2011, 02:59 AM
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Cosmin Lupu
post Aug 18 2011, 07:28 AM
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Wow biggrin.gif pretty extensive and very well pointed wink.gif I'd say it sums up everything there is to know!


QUOTE (Twinbroz @ Aug 18 2011, 01:46 AM) *
I trancribe 100% of the time and I loveeeee it, I rather trancribe a piece myself then be handed a tab. Not to brag but with a lot of experiance and repetition it becomes fairly easy. Here's my take on getting close to perfect on the song inside and out.

1) Listen to the song multiple times with headphones. (You can hear more because the sound is compressed)

2) Experiment with the song, by this I mean listen for notes that rattle or ring out to learn what possible tuning it is.

3.) Do your research! Take shortcuts to figuring out the song by listening to the bands others songs to maybe learn what they do often. For example, types of bends, postions and scales etc.

4.) Possible search youtube for a visual standing point. There could possible be a live of the guitarist or musician playing it.

5.) Listen to the song in different parts. Break it into backing(rhyhtm) lead, harmonies, and other possible instruments being played. Focus on those parts individually.

Actually starting the process.

6.) Download Transcribe or Amazing Slower Downer and Audacity. These tools help tremendously because they do things we simple can't. Transcribe and Audacity can both slow down songs without changing its pitch and isolate the lead parts of the song by frequencies making it much easier to hear possible things that are drowned by drums and synths. (Let me know if you want to know how to do this)

7.) Start working on the chords supporting the lead of the song, it helps you figure if its mixed with the actual riff or seperate. Also chords are the majority case of most songs, in most cases. Learn the backing to the song first. For chords listen to the lowest notes. Then listen and practice your intervals to determine what other notes are being played in that chord. Some chords over time really stand out and are really obvious. Figure out where the chord could possible be played because often chords could. Can be played in multiple positions. Anys riffs that are in the backing stay tuned because they could be possible hints to other parts of the song. If they repeat, that's another section down.

8.) Working on the leads to me is the usually easier part with my approach. From the getco I already start in Transcribe at the halfed speed of 50% and Transcible allows the simple click of the spacebar to replay where you last clicked the mouse.When listening to anything in slow motion you can determine where the note is being played on the fretboard. With guitar the same note can be played multiple times in different positions and still sound the same due to tone/disortion/compression so it gets really tricky. Usually I start with a random start point of the starting note and play around with it. If I feel I am moving postions too freuquent and its almost physically impossible to play fast or at normal speed start somewhere else and try to find where its easiest to play it. Because most of the time the composer himself will find the most logical way to play it.

9.) When working with leads, pay attention to any notes that particulary are around the 5th fret because it could one be the string above just fretted open or the opposite and just following the scale that was being played. If the intervals are to big it could either be one string skipping if it is sounding picked and cutting or two it could be tapping if it sounds hammered on or has a legato feel to it. Last but not least if the interval is wide it could possible be opens followed by the next note. For example '10 - 12 - 10 - 0 - 9 - 10 - 9 - 0' in tab format.

10.) I'm slow motion not only can you hear the notes and what's going on more clearly but you can also hear the little things that connect the song such as phrasing. Vibrato, slides, bends and other things that give away soo many clues as to where they are on the fretboard and more. For example if you listen closely, you can actually hear scales runs and how many notes are being played per string. Listening to bends in slow motion also helps you improve your own vibrato/bend to know how high to bend and where to come back to. It has made me the guitar player I am today.

11.) Next transcribe the harmonies to the song if it has them, harmonies can be heard a lot easier when slowed down, sometimes even down to 25% speed. Figuring out harmonies helps you determine what is being played and what's next. Often people play the combination of the orginal track and the harmonies only because they cannot seperate and differentiate what's going on at that part. By learning the harmonies you can mentally seperate them and figure out what's mainly being played.

If you've got to this point you've probably obtained a lot of knowledge on how to transcribe songs much easier and accurately. Normally when I transcribe sometimes I will literally spend hours/days on the same riff/solo until I am certain that it is perfect/almost perfect if physically do-able. Over time these things really become much easier and should be looked at as a process/routine. Hope this helped. smile.gif



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