How To Work Out Songs By Ear On Guitar By Andy Crowley

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2 How To Work Out Songs By Ear On Guitar By Andy Crowley Learning to play guitar by ear can be the most important skill any guitarist can learn. Guitarists who constantly develop this skill tend to be those who never stop stop playing in their lives and go on to achieve more with their playing (perform solo, play in bands, jam with other musicians regular). In many ways, being able to play guitar by ear is the key to being satisfied and happy as a musician! However, playing by ear is also the most challenging thing to do when you have never done it before. Most people just cannot see how it can be done. This short ebook will help show YOU the exact method of how I do it, and what you need to learn to get better at it! GENERAL TIPS 1. Choose a song that repeats often If a song keeps changing, it is MUCH harder to learn. Choose a song with repetitive sections and just 2, 3 or 4 chords. I really recommend choosing quite middle of the road songs at first, 3 chord strumming songs are best for now. I ll show you where to find songs to work out later, further down this sheet! 2. Choose a song that is within your ability. The fun thing is when working a song out by ear becomes FASTER than learning by any other method - including chord sheets or TAB! Don t make life harder for yourself. 3. Use headphones when listening to the song Headphones are always much more immersive than speakers. You will hear the guitars, bass and all other instruments clearer if you use headphones. Wearing one headphone on and the other off (DJ style) will allow you to hear your guitar while you re playing and to compare to see if you re playing correctly. 4. Understand musical keys A key tells us the chords that will likely happen in a song. These chords are derived from the major scale of the key you re are in. Keys in this sense are like cheat sheets, as if you know the key- you know what chords will likely crop up in a song! Learn more about keys here 5. Be able to hear the difference between major and minor All chords can be divided into two main camps, major or minor. Major chord sound happy, minor chord sound sad. If you can t hear or feel the difference between this, you have little chance of progressing further. Learn how to do this here 6. Understand Cadences A more advanced concept than just keys is the function of each chord in a key. Cadences help us understand and here the function of chords more clearly. Learn about cadences here. 2

3 5 STOP FOOL PROOF METHOD TO WORKING OUT SONGS BY EAR 1. Work out the bass notes first If you want to work out the chords in the song, this can be the trickiest thing to work out. This is because chords have 3 notes in them. On guitar, this is spread over 6 string, so you re actually need to work out a max of 6 notes! Don t do this. Instead, work out the bass note first. This will likely be the lowest sound you can hear, played on bass, guitars or even piano (it doesn t matter). All chords have a root note that gives the chord its name. Work out the root note, you know the name of your chord. The first bass note you work out will be the hardest. Find this note on the thickest string by comparing each fret to the sound of the song. When it sounds the same, this is your chord. 2. Is the chord major or minor? So you have the root note. To find the chord, ask yourself is it major or minor? Learn how to do this here. If you know the root note of your chord, and if it is major or minor or not - then you know what chord it is! 3. Repeat this for you chord in the sequence you re trying to work out When you have the first chord, everything gets easier. You want to be able to tell if the next chord is higher or lower than the next. Did the lowest note you heard go up or down? This is why you need a repetitive chord sequence. This is a taxing process if you have a sequence (chord progression) that just keeps going and doesn t repeat. Choose a repetitive pop song to begin with! WORKING OUT A RIFF OR MELODY The process is very similar if you are working out a riff, all you have to do is step 1 written out above! However, if the riff has many notes, you ll have to do this again and again for every note. It comes back to song choice, choose a very reparative riff that doesn t use many notes and it will be easier. As you improve, you can work out harder riffs and solos. Aim to get many songs under your belt before jumping up a level though, it will take time. NEED HELP? PRACTICE WITH OTHERS Unfortunately, most private guitar teachers don t work on their student s ear training nearly enough. The best way to learn this way is with friends, two or more heads are better than one! If you re lucky enough to know a guitarist friend who seems to know how to do this stuff, you need to hang out with them! If not, you ll find these kinds of people at open mic nights or in classified ads online for people looking for jam buddies. Great guitar teachers put like- minded students in touch with each other so they can practice and jam together. This is something I have done with private students. I am hoping this will be the case when I offer group guitar workshops in the summer (more on this to come!) 3

4 WHERE CAN I FIND SONGS? But - I hear you ask how will I know which songs are good to work out by ear? Where can I find them? Where to find songs to work out by ear - Method 1 Find my playlists of 2, 3 and 4 chord songs on my website (from the Beginners Course songlist) Choose any songs you have not learned before. These will be the songs that you will work out by ear. Each Level of the beginner course tells you which chords will be in the song. If you need more help, you can glace at the chord sheet/ video to see which chords the song uses, or if there is a capo Where to find songs to work out by ear - Method 2 Think of any songs you know REALLY well that are simple. Try and pick something you imagine has only 3 or 4 chords max and that repeats often. If needed, you can peak at a chord sheet or tutorial for a song - but look at as little as possible! Write down what chords are in the song to help yourself. The better you know a song, the easier this should be! 4

5 MY TOP 10 SONGS TO WORK OUT BY EAR Here s a list of song suggestions to make it even easier for you to get started. All these songs have tutorials for free at andyguitar.co.uk for you to check how close you are - but have a go at working them out by ear first by using Spotify or YouTube (audio only!) 1- When Love Comes To Town by B.B. King and U2 Chords used; E and A major Hints and tips; listen to the electric guitar and try and copy the riff using just the E and A major chords! 2- I Can t Explain by The Who Chords used; just D, A and E (could happen in any order) Hints and tips; The riff repeats A LOT. But listen to the first riff the most, keep hitting stop and start, have a go, and compare to the record. 3- Seven Nation Army by White Stripes Chords used; No chords, all notes can be played on string 6. Hints and tips; Riff begins on an E note 4- Ooh La la by the Faces Chords used; D major and E minor. Hints and tips; listen for the chord change, work out the rhythm after 5- Horse with no name Chords used; same as above Hints and tips; again, listen for the chord change and work out the rhythm after 6- Fever by The Cramps Chords used; no chords, it s an E minor pentatonic scale based riff Hints and tips; learn the scale first, then try and work out the riff! 7-20 th century boy Chords used; again it s another E minor pentatonic scale based riff but E, A and B chords are featured Hints and tips; the riff is just 2 notes on the thickest E string, but the rhythm and order can be tricky just 1 chord is played in the verse 8- Running down a dream Chords used; Em, D, A, G, and the riff is all on the thickest E string Hints and tips; I think that s enough! Though the riff can be played with just 1 finger 9- Misty Mountain Hop by Led Zeppelin Chords used; riff is all on the thickest E string, the A major chord is also featured Hints and tips; again, I think that s enough! If this is too difficult pick a song from earlier in this list 10- Should I stay or should I go by the Clash Chords used; G, D, F and A Hints and tips; what a great riff, and the pauses plus the repetition make it a great one to work out by ear. I don t want to give anything away, give it a go first and then compare to my lesson on the website! 5

6 WHERE TO GO FROM HERE What may shock you is just how much music theory is involved in playing by ear. When most people think of music theory, they think of sight reading sheet music and bad school lessons. Music theory gets a really bad rap. HOWEVER, music theory is essential to improving your ear and doesn t involve any note reading at all if you don t want it to. The essential music theory to learn to improve your ear and general playing is; Intervals Keys Chord structure Cadences Harmony All of this will be covered in my upcoming music theory module. Remember, no theory ever replaces the practical. You will only ever get better at playing by ear if you practice actually doing it regularly! Dedicate the last 10 or 15 minutes of every practice session (or around 25 percent of your practice time) to working out or improving on new songs by ear, when possible. 6

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