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Unread 10-13-2012, 01:56 AM   #1
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By Ear

How does everyone train themselves to play by ear?

currently i try to play along with music ive never heard before.

how do you do it?

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Unread 10-13-2012, 01:53 PM   #2
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I would recommend starting with a song you know very well (you can sing the melody by memory). They try and play the melody on whatever instrument you play. you will hit wrong notes, but that's part of learning. Keep doing this with different songs you know.

Another way is by learning your note intervals (such as mi2 ma2 mi3 ma3 etc) backwards and forwards. Use melodies you already know and match them with an interval (for instance, the first interval in Star Wars is a Perfect 5th), and that helps you to remember what intervals sound like what.

This process of ear training is not quick by any means. It takes a loooong time to be able to be good at playing by ear efficiently.
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Unread 10-15-2012, 08:25 AM   #3
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You MUST be able to determine what key the song is in. After that you need to know the most common intervals for most songs.

I usually listen to the bass guitar for whether a chord is 'higher' or 'lower' than the previous chord.

As you are learning you should write down the chords you think the song has as you go and then once you have the song 'charted' out, find the correct chords on the internet to check yourself. The more you 'chart' songs the easier it will become.
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Unread 10-15-2012, 12:09 PM   #4
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You'll find many people do things differently...you'll just have to find your particular way. The way I learned when I first started playing was to find what key the song was in...I did this by finding the root note of the first chord in the song. The first chord, whether major or minor, is usually the key that the song is in, but sometimes that isn't the case. Finding the key of the song you're learning is all a matter of experience which comes in time. Once you discover the key find out the chord progression of the song. Over time you'll be able to listen to a song and discipher without picking up a guitar if it is a I - vi - IV - V7 progression or not (this is just an example).
Learning how to play lead parts is a different monster to tackle. In my humble opinion, you need just basic music theory knowledge to figure out a lead part in a song fused with different scale memorizations. I personally start with the pentatonic scale then branch off to a minor or major scale depending on how the song is written. Most solos start on either the root, third, or fifth and branch off from there. It's good to know basic rock licks because a lot of lead guitarists incorporate them in their solos. The more you play the easier things get.
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Unread 10-15-2012, 09:42 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dogfood View Post
How does everyone train themselves to play by ear?

currently i try to play along with music ive never heard before.

how do you do it?
I've played by ear ever since I could play guitar. I remember as a kid I could hear something once or twice and then hum it out loud, so it's a natural gift for me as it is with some people.

For others, training yourself to understand notes and scales and intervals is something that can be accomplished through a lot of study, starting with single notes and simple recognizable melodies and progressing from there. Honestly, I used to be able to pick out tv theme songs and cartoons from way back.
Start simple, start slow and practice often.
Lead, follow and get out of the way.

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