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5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
#3034163 03/19/20 07:57 PM
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  • Take it in tiny pieces - even one or two notes at a time. If you listen too far ahead as you go, your ears will start to play games with you.
  • f you're having trouble with an entire chord voicing, listen to the bass note and start with a basic power chord version of the chord. Come back to it when you're stuck and just use the root note for the first pass through.
  • Learn scales/modes. Yeah I know.. BORING! But, it'll be a lot easier to figure out what notes are being played when you know what's in the key of a song and also get used to hearing when something changes key because you are familiar with the modes.
  • Don't set the bar too high at first. Transcribe simple stuff and stuff where the guitar is isolated/solo. Develop your ear on simple songs even if you can play advanced stuff.
  • Make a re-EQed version of the song before you load it up to the software. Drop the high highs and everything from the low mids down. Make it so the guitar jumps out more.


Eventually you will get so good at this that you can even tell which string a part was played on. Like a lead where it could be the 5th, 7th, and 8th of the first string is the same notes if you play 10th, 12th, and 13th on the second string. You'll be able to hear the nuanced tonal difference of the two strings.

The software I use for this is Transcribe! from www.seventhstring.com I did a 5 minute demo of it that I published today if you want to check that out (link in my sig below).

Enjoy!


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Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
Music With Marky #3034169 03/19/20 08:47 PM
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I am a jammer, I don't read music, I don't copy other peoples songs, if I do a cover of someones tunes, I always use my own arrangements. I use mostly pentatonic scales and sometimes I stray into the modes and full scales. I never wanted to be a music reader or highly educated musically, since the music I like is usually simple blues or blues based rock, neither of which needs much theory to accomplish. I am in the tail end of my playing days, at 77 years old and with neuropathy and old age related memory issues, I just do music for something to do afternoons when the wifey is out to work. I did take lessons from Emily Remler, and Bob Aslanian (Bob's claim to fame is he taught Al DeMeola early on in his development and they did several books together) Anyways I learned all I wanted to know and more from those two great teachers. I also took several lessons before Emily and Bob from a blind guy near Point Pleasant NJ named Al DelRusso. He taught me the major scale, Emily taught me the modes, Bob taught me how to play scales in thirds, and triplets and taught me the theory of Diatonic Scales. After which I went into a crazed practice mode until I could play as fast as Al DeMeola although I was never as clean at those speeds.


dbm
If it sounds good, it is good !!
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=143231&content=music
Harvey Cedars is my stage name on Soundclick
Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
desertbluesman #3034234 03/20/20 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by desertbluesman
I am a jammer, I don't read music, I don't copy other peoples songs, if I do a cover of someones tunes, I always use my own arrangements. I use mostly pentatonic scales and sometimes I stray into the modes and full scales. I never wanted to be a music reader or highly educated musically, since the music I like is usually simple blues or blues based rock, neither of which needs much theory to accomplish. I am in the tail end of my playing days, at 77 years old and with neuropathy and old age related memory issues, I just do music for something to do afternoons when the wifey is out to work. I did take lessons from Emily Remler, and Bob Aslanian (Bob's claim to fame is he taught Al DeMeola early on in his development and they did several books together) Anyways I learned all I wanted to know and more from those two great teachers. I also took several lessons before Emily and Bob from a blind guy near Point Pleasant NJ named Al DelRusso. He taught me the major scale, Emily taught me the modes, Bob taught me how to play scales in thirds, and triplets and taught me the theory of Diatonic Scales. After which I went into a crazed practice mode until I could play as fast as Al DeMeola although I was never as clean at those speeds.

DeMeola is another cool Jersey cat. I really got into his playing for a bit too. His staccato stuff had a big influence early on. Did you ever see the thing with him, McLaughlin and DeLucia in San Francisco? That was truly amazing stuff!


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Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
Music With Marky #3034271 03/20/20 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Music With Marky
DeMeola is another cool Jersey cat. I really got into his playing for a bit too. His staccato stuff had a big influence early on. Did you ever see the thing with him, McLaughlin and DeLucia in San Francisco? That was truly amazing stuff!

I got to see that Friday Night in San Francisco thing several times as well as owning the album (if CD I still have that somewhere)(if not CD maybe my youngest kiddo has that, as he has somehow gotten all of my old LP's) I was a big fan of McLaughlin and DeMeola at that time.


dbm
If it sounds good, it is good !!
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=143231&content=music
Harvey Cedars is my stage name on Soundclick
Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
Music With Marky #3034323 03/20/20 07:07 PM
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I enjoy reading your posts, for me it is sort of like visiting a foreign country.
Your guitar world is different than mine, not judging at all - I've simply taken a different path.

I made a decision early in my playing that I would attempt to find my own path. Decades later I have a Phd in Bar Band. That and $1.50 will get you a small drip at Starbucks.
One aspect of that decision is my vision, it is poor and corrections are strong. To get a full transcription would require large pages.

I will note something I learned a while ago - traditional music notation as inherited from Europe was originally intended for keyboards and adapted to other instruments.
The guitar is problematic in that I have access to Middle C in 5 different locations on my Strat. There is only 1 middle C on a keyboard, much less complicated.

I forged my own path for a long time and eventually found an agreeable and fun gig in California with a bandleader who knows thousands of songs from memory. He does not have a list of those songs, nor did we ever use a set list. Impossible to use written music in that situation, it is no help whatsoever. When he started a song, I needed to be playing it immediately. We were booked a minimum of Th-Fr-Sa every week for 9 years and I remember one period where we played 16 gigs in 14 days.

I am in another band up here with similar circumstances, no list of songs, no set list and mostly too busy playng to practice.
Both of these situations invovled taking requests and learning them on the fly, another random thing that will keep you on your toes.

I had some amazing failures early on and still find myself wondering what I am supposed to do but I've learned to err with silence instead of playing the wrong thing. Luckily, both bandleaders also play guitar so I can usually come up with something that works by watching the left hand if my ears are not helping. Capos can be confusing at first but once you realize that all the scale and chord shapes on the guitar remain consistent up and down the neck it is easy to parse that. Being "Chief Decorator" in both bands provided the luxury of "call and answer" although I did a stint of about 18 months on bass down in California.

I would HUGELY recommend to all guitarists that they learn to play bass like a bassist, I'll go so far as to say it is the most important and difficult job in a live situation. Knowing your chords is very useful for bass, so is knowing your beats and driving the groove. It is good training to learn to play the essential and not muck them up with fancy licks, I am glad I did it. I am a much better guitarist for having that experience.

Add in that most popular music does tend to stick to simpler basic formulas and I've both survived and learned some signature licks along the way.
At the same time, one learns that the audience does not really give one single crap if you play "just like the record." Give them a danceable groove and a chorus they can sing along with and they will love you.
We've had LOTS of love along the way, so at this late date I see no reason for me to change.

Plus, I am having FUN!! In the end, we are selling FUN and that is a good product. Hope you are enjoying your own path and the music you surround yourself with, my hat's off to you!! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
KuruPrionz #3034337 03/20/20 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I would HUGELY recommend to all guitarists that they learn to play bass like a bassist...

That is an excellent point and something I had endeavored to do some years ago.

Thanks for the kind words and Cheers!


Music With Marky - A YouTube Channel For Guitarists Who Want To Make Better Music
Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
Music With Marky #3034378 03/21/20 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I would HUGELY recommend to all guitarists that they learn to play bass like a bassist.
I tried, long ago, but I did not want to take away from my guitar practice which have a much different feel. I also opted out of acoustic guitar, because the action on them requires a bit harder touch. I also stopped playing rhythm guitar because I wanted to focus on my lead playing and extend the hours practicing that instead of other instruments or techniques. I learned how to record my own backing tracks a long time ago, so I never needed to play rhythm although I might practice up chord work on one of my compositions for recording a rhythm track or two. I do still practice chords for some songs I do at warm up. All in all I focused on what I wanted to do and ignored the rest, and i did get pretty decent on leads, never all perfect, but sometimes very inspired. All in all I accomplished what I wanted to do fairly well. And I am satisfied with my choices in what to practice.


dbm
If it sounds good, it is good !!
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=143231&content=music
Harvey Cedars is my stage name on Soundclick
Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
desertbluesman #3034380 03/21/20 03:21 AM
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Originally Posted by desertbluesman
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I would HUGELY recommend to all guitarists that they learn to play bass like a bassist.
I tried, long ago, but I did not want to take away from my guitar practice which have a much different feel. I also opted out of acoustic guitar, because the action on them requires a bit harder touch. I also stopped playing rhythm guitar because I wanted to focus on my lead playing and extend the hours practicing that instead of other instruments or techniques. I learned how to record my own backing tracks a long time ago, so I never needed to play rhythm although I might practice up chord work on one of my compositions for recording a rhythm track or two. I do still practice chords for some songs I do at warm up. All in all I focused on what I wanted to do and ignored the rest, and i did get pretty decent on leads, never all perfect, but sometimes very inspired. All in all I accomplished what I wanted to do fairly well. And I am satisfied with my choices in what to practice.

Which is great, we all make choices! I saw Yes twice and seeing Steve Howe fluidly switch instruments inspired me. Being left-handed and playing right handed combined with a determination to "row my own boat" probably led to my unorthodox fingerpicking style, something I mostly do at home but I LOVE it. I play nylon string, steel string acoustic (both 6 and 12 string), lap steel, some banjo, fretted and fretless bass and electric guitar. I am also satisfied in my choices so we're both doing well! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
KuruPrionz #3034381 03/21/20 03:27 AM
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@Kuru. I worked full time as a union bricklayer during the early guitar playing days, I went and made babies young, so I was a freaking slave to those crumb crushers, but I loved them and wanted the best for them so my guitar playing was sent into the background. There was not enough time in my day to do more than focus in on the one aspect of playing that I preferred.


dbm
If it sounds good, it is good !!
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=143231&content=music
Harvey Cedars is my stage name on Soundclick
Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
KuruPrionz #3034383 03/21/20 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by desertbluesman
I am a jammer, I don't read music, I don't copy other peoples songs, if I do a cover of someones tunes, I always use my own arrangements. I use mostly pentatonic scales and sometimes I stray into the modes and full scales. I never wanted to be a music reader or highly educated musically, since the music I like is usually simple blues or blues based rock, neither of which needs much theory to accomplish. I am in the tail end of my playing days, at 77 years old and with neuropathy and old age related memory issues, I just do music for something to do afternoons when the wifey is out

yeahthat +1

Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I had some amazing failures early on and still find myself wondering what I am supposed to do but I've learned to err with silence instead of playing the wrong thing. Luckily, both bandleaders also play guitar so I can usually come up with something that works by watching the left hand if my ears are not helping. Capos can be confusing at first but once you realize that all the scale and chord shapes on the guitar remain consistent up and down the neck it is easy to parse that. Being "Chief Decorator" in both bands provided the luxury of "call and answer" although I did a stint of about 18 months on bass down in California.

Add in that most popular music does tend to stick to simpler basic formulas and I've both survived and learned some signature licks along the way.
At the same time, one learns that the audience does not really give one single crap if you play "just like the record." Give them a danceable groove and a chorus they can sing along with and they will love you.
We've had LOTS of love along the way, so at this late date I see no reason for me to change.

yeahthat +1

I like to take old tunes and make them new again. 1st thing I do is pick a tune I really like from the 30's 40's 50's 60's 70's eras (country, country rock, rock and roll, jazzy). If I don't really like the song, I won't bother to learn it. When I do, I research the original, get some chords off of chordie.com, take a few YouTube lessons on it. Then find my key, transpose and memorize the lyrics. I get the chords and lyrics working together. Find my tempo. Make some chord voicings and arrangement adjustments if needed. Then do it my way. I chart it out until I get it down but I don't worry about transcribing. I'll put it on my looper and play it back to make sure it's going to work with my voice. Then I'll play around with improvising my own leads. This is kind of what my path looks like.

You always come up with some cool lessons Mark and those that want to learn a few licks/leads/songs and transcribe them, would be wise to give your method a good try! Getting the main hooks to song is really a great way to make it come alive. I appreciate all those that can play it just like the record...but it's not how I spend my time and effort. I like having fun doing my thing and play as much as my old brain can remember LOL! cool


Take care, Larryz
Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
Larryz #3034394 03/21/20 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Larryz
You always come up with some cool lessons Mark and those that want to learn a few licks/leads/songs and transcribe them, would be wise to give your method a good try! Getting the main hooks to song is really a great way to make it come alive. I appreciate all those that can play it just like the record...but it's not how I spend my time and effort. I like having fun doing my thing and play as much as my old brain can remember LOL! cool

Thanks Larry! I think it's more important when someone is developing early on so that it informs their knowledge of the instrument. For experienced players, it starts to become much more about expressing your own sound. That said, I play and write so much that I get bored of my own sound and learn other stuff just to add new flavors to the mix.


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Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
Music With Marky #3034420 03/21/20 03:33 PM
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"Learn scales/modes. Yeah I know.. BORING! But, it'll be a lot easier to figure out what notes are being played when you know what's in the key of a song and also get used to hearing when something changes key because you are familiar with the modes." Marky

I like this concept in your OP Mark. Even though I didn't start scale(s) study till much later in my guitar playing endeavors, I think it was the greatest thing I ever did. Charting out the major and minor pentatonic and the full major and minor scales is similar to transcribing. I never tabbed them or wrote them out on the staff, I just made my own charts that I could put in front of me while memorizing patterns. Now I have a couple of charts relating them and putting the patterns in intervals for ear training. My theory on those that never learned or used scales and play by ear, is that they are using the same notes and intervals and just don't know it LOL! I like shifting in and out of the major/minor pentatonic and full scale related major/minor scales, and then throw in a melody line now and then to mix things up...

+1 those starting out would have a great foundation by learning to read music and learn to transcribe. When my buddy and I started out, we learned a lot of guitar by ear, copying those old Ventures albums. We just had to memorize more LOL!

cool


Take care, Larryz
Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
Music With Marky #3034435 03/21/20 06:26 PM
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My parents were music teachers... I grew up in subconscious ear training camp. My stepdad brought home a bass when I was in high school and handed it to me and told me to learn to play it... I said I already knew and had been playing my band/jam mates basses for years (teaching them the basslines to songs we'd play, which I just somehow knew), so of course, he made me play along with Motown and jazz stuff to be a "real bassist," and I later played in his jazz/r&b bands a lot.

Re: 5 Tips for Transcribing/Learning by Ear
Music With Marky #3034441 03/21/20 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by p90jr
My parents were music teachers... I grew up in subconscious ear training camp. My stepdad brought home a bass when I was in high school and handed it to me and told me to learn to play it... I said I already knew and had been playing my band/jam mates basses for years (teaching them the basslines to songs we'd play, which I just somehow knew), so of course, he made me play along with Motown and jazz stuff to be a "real bassist," and I later played in his jazz/r&b bands a lot.
THAT'S AWESOME. My familial experience concerning music was... decidedly different. Not much encouragement or support, much the opposite, unfortunately. But I digress...


Originally Posted by Music With Marky
  • If you're having trouble with an entire chord voicing, listen to the bass note and start with a basic power chord version of the chord. Come back to it when you're stuck and just use the root note for the first pass through.
Indeed. Now, I don't actually "transcribe" into written music and/or tablature, but I have often sussed-out given recorded passages on guitar. Typically, if the voicing and fingering for a chord that I'm hearing doesn't leap out obviously, I'll listen closely for the lowest note, and the highest note; figure out several places to play those two notes on the fretboard, then listen closely again to find any notes that are in-between the lowest and highest notes, and fill that in. Going back to more than one fretboard-position where those can be played, the easiest position to play the following chord soon becomes clear, and clearer yet with each chordal bit in succession. This gets easier each time that one does this.

Originally Posted by Music With Marky
Eventually you will get so good at this that you can even tell which string a part was played on. Like a lead where it could be the 5th, 7th, and 8th of the first string is the same notes if you play 10th, 12th, and 13th on the second string. You'll be able to hear the nuanced tonal difference of the two strings.
Mhm-Hmn! The brighter 'ping' and 'twang' of the (usually) plain-treble 3rd/G-string will stand-out compared to the smoother, more homogeneous sound of the wound 4th/D or 5th/A strings; the 1st/High-E sounds thinner and brighter than the 2nd/B or 3rd/G strings, etc. Fretboard-position may be a little more subtle, but that starts to sound more familiar and identifiable with time, as well.

Originally Posted by Music With Marky
The software I use for this is Transcribe! from www.seventhstring.com I did a 5 minute demo of it that I published today if you want to check that out (link in my sig below).

Enjoy!
Thanks for the link and the advice!


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