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What is the first song that you worked out by ear on keys?


RABid

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As someone classically trained on piano it was a major change for me to try and figure out songs by ear. I always said that I never played by ear until I moved from drums to keys, but in reality, I did work out one song before then. I was in high school and the Muppet Show was a hit on TV. I talked a group of friends into performing the Muppet Theme at a high school talent show. I worked up all the parts by ear and taught those parts to other musicians. I was really shocked when a friend volunteered to play piano. She was a bit uppity, her dad was principle and she ended up being valedictorian. But she was a different person on this project. I showed her the part and she picked it up immediately. Saw another side of her during that project. I played trumpet on the song. We did well and it went over big time.

 

So do you remember the first song that you worked out by ear on piano?

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Axel F! Had to get a synth after working that out on piano. I was 14years old and Roland D-20 was my first synth. No, I don't have that synth anymore ;) I had worked other things out by ear at younger age, but nothing that made me want to buy a new instrument until Axel F.

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Probably the main theme of Close Encounters.

 

Later when I was in my first band (which started as a lip-sync fake band for my buddy's super-8 video project, none of us could play anything), I was picking out notes to Doors songs like 20th century fox and Light my Fire. Why a bunch of 14-year-olds in 1981 were playing the Doors is a question for the ages. I was elected keyboard player (random chance really) and I didn't know what a chord was for several years, so I did my best 1-note-at-a-time version of those songs and others by the Beatles, Stones etc.

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Twinkle twinkle in 2nd grade -- does that count? :)
My son, aged 3 and a bit, walked up to the piano, reached high above his eyeline and picked out the first line. When he'd finished he gave me the biggest smile. "Dad, wasn't that cool?" I knew we had to get him lessons after that.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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I always played by ear, for years before my first real piano lesson (which came at age 10). Mom was a musician, so there was a piano and music in the house at all times. I never had a relationship with songs that didn't involve using the piano to try and play them somehow, even if I was almost certainly way off on how they really went, as a little kid.
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This would have been when I was around 3 years old...I honestly don't know. Probably a hymn of some kind. I know on the accordion it was either the Liechtensteiner Polka or the Beer Barrel Polka - I was eight.

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I don't know if this qualifies, but I did a lot of picking out the middle horn part (the sax part) in a bunch of Chicago songs when I was in 7th grade (1974?), dropping and lifting the needle on the LP over and over. The trumpet note was easy to find because it was on top, and the trombone notes were easy to distinguish on the bottom, but that inner harmony of the sax part was hard to find sometimes. When it got really tough I would need to transcribe the trumpet and trombone parts first, then figure out the few sax notes I could pick out directly, and infer where the unknown sax notes in between might be. Sometimes I walked over to the piano to play the 3 notes together (including the guessed sax note) to see if they sounded right together.
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She Sheila by The Producers. I was the singer in our band, we needed keys to "fill out the sound". Been playing ever since, LOL.

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What'd I Say, Ray Charles. I would have been about 15. I played sax, clarinet, guitar, uke. But I wanted to make that sound. Been hooked on classic R&B ever since.

 

These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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Memory is poor but I"m guessing it would have been when I started in my high school rock band so it was probably Roadhouse Blues or some such thing.

 

I remember attempting The Great Gig In The Sky as a teen but I doubt it was very accurate, or that I even got all the way through it.

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Like many here, I started plunking out easy tunes on the piano at an early age. I recall this impressing my "girlfriend" in second-grade. :laugh:

 

My first real "keyboard" song (including a solo) was "Evil Ways." I had "Santana's Greatest Hits" on an 8-track tape, which meant that after the song ended there always was some wait time listening to other tunes (no rewind/fast-forward) before it would play again. I'm sure some folks here can relate...

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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I remember attempting The Great Gig In The Sky as a teen but I doubt it was very accurate, or that I even got all the way through it.

 

That was the first piece I ever learned, but it wast by ear.

 

I was a late starter to playing keyboards, age 17.

 

I decided I wanted to learn to play the piano so went into town one day and bought a Casiotone, a book on music theory and the Dark Side of the Moon music book. Great Gig was my initial learning piece.

 

Pretty much straight away I started working out other stuff by ear.

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I was probably about 8-9 when I figured out the song More. Parents bought a new Wurlitzer organ from the Wurlitzer store in a nearby mall when I was 8 years old and my older sister and I started lessons right away. They often had a kid maybe 12 years old that played the fancy Wurlitzer on a turn style in the mall during busy times. He wasn"t reading music - played everything by ear. Inspired by that I was able to play More by ear. Can still hear it in my mind with a Latin rhythm. Something about that song back in the day that just hooked me. Wish I could have continued to develop my ear. Alas, not so much...

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The Little Drummer Boy. I think I was 8, and had never touched a piano. The director of the church's Junior Choir (I sang alto) suggested to my unchurched parents that I could make use of piano lessons. By age 10 I was picking out Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, and "approximately" playing the Light My Fire opening. By age 12 I was learning Jimmy Smith (Peter and the Wolf) by ear and transcribing / arranging BS&T tunes for my fellow junior high band members.

 

50 years later, I still have mutant-grade hearing. My biggest musical deficit is sight-reading.

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If You Could Read My Mind, by Gordon Lightfoot; next was Part of the Plan (Dan Fogelberg). I was around 15 years old then; picked out a bunch of folk and roots stuff first. Then I discovered REO, and Neal Doughty's pyrotechnics...

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Whatever my baby-sitters were practicing in the early 60s. Couldn't tell you the very first, but "Spinning Song" and Schubert's "March Militare" were among the 1st. As far as popular music I heard on the radio it would have been something by the Kingston Trio or Peter Paul & Mary ("Puff the Magic Dragon" comes to mind).
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Darned if I can remember. Mom said I was learning by ear as young as three years old, picking out songs on the piano.

Yep, same.

Yamaha: Motif XF8, MODX7, YS200, MX61, CVP-305, CLP-130, YPG-235, PSR-295, PSS-470 | Roland: Fantom 7, JV-1000

Kurzweil: PC3-76, PC4 (88) | Korg: N1R, X5DR | Emu: Proteus/1 | Casio: CT-370 | Novation: Launchkey 37 MK3

Former: Emu Proformance Plus & Mo'Phatt, Korg Krome 61, Roland Fantom XR & JV-1010, Behringer CAT

Yamaha Pacifica 112V & APX600 | Washburn WI64 | Ibanez BTB-675 | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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I"m sure I can"t recall the first melody I ever picked out by ear, but the first two melodies I ever *transcribed* into notation were the Star Wars 'Cantina Theme', and the unison lick in Stevie Wonder"s 'Sir Duke' â 1977, junior in High School. The former, to insert into the middle of the concert band SW 'suite' we were learning for Spring Sing; the latter, for my first garage band gig.

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'Light My Fire' - long version also...some of it was wrong, the larger chunk was right....had stopped music lessons a few years earlier.

That and 'Puff the Magic Dragon' on trumpet were my big hits prior to the age of 15 and 'Lady of Spain' (but I had the music for that one).

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