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Playing by ear

Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:58 pm
by Photojim
Hi everyone,
I started playing "late" and have great difficulty in playing by ear, some people say that its a lot to do with memory, I just say its bloody hard !!!. I'm mainly playing country/easy listening/R&R music and have no problem jamming along so long as I have a chord sheet in front of me. Has anyone got some tips ?? Cheers Jim

Re: Playing by ear

Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:13 pm
by john
Getting a good ear just takes time and practice.
Once you have been playing a lot you get to know what various intervals sound like and you will hear something and get it.
Try jamming along to various albums and see if you can find the root note of each chord being played.

Re: Playing by ear

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:11 pm
by Photojim
Thanks for that info John, I'll certainly have a go at that. Cheers

Re: Playing by ear

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:21 am
by martyforrer
What you need is interval training, that is learning to discern the aural interval between notes. The obvious easy ones are the 1,4,5 progression of the twelve bar blues format, and the 1.6.4.5 progression of the 50s doo wop songs. At this point you are best to go find a teacher who will teach you interval training. It doesn't have to be a bass teacher, although that would be a plus. A piano teacher can do it too. Although I played bass guitar since I was 16, I never took up double bass until I was about 41, so it's never too late to start learning something. You just have to work a bit harder at it as you get older.

Re: Playing by ear

Posted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 7:56 pm
by ryla
playing by ear is probably more difficult today given the online tutorials for songs you want to learn - at the risk of sounding like an old fart, the only way to cop a riff in my day was to play the record over and over and I'm sure this way to learn was more beneficial than the express 'you tube' or' songsterr' method.

Re: Playing by ear

Posted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:46 am
by greghr
Hi,
One practice exercise I am doing is an interval sequence exercise that is having 3 effects:
1. It's tuning my ear to intervals e.g. 3rds,4ths etc
2. It's teaching me scale patterns e.g. major, minor etc
3. I am picking up (slowly) the interval patterns on the fretboard.

I should add that I am still in the early stages of practice of this but it has changed my ear playing already somewhat.

What you do is firstly learn the scale pattern i.e. C scale. It's best to pick a major scale I think to begin with as all the other scales can be derived from the major scale.
Then once you have the major scale pattern down you start to practice the following:
Play 3rds from any note in the scale
then play your 4th's, 5ths, 6ths, Octaves from any note in the scale. Then find or make a backing track groove in your chosen key and jam with that using the different interval tonal changes. Don't forget to play the sequences up the scale from the key root and also down the scale back to the key root.
Then practice this exercise using the Key centres around the circle of 4ths and 5ths.
After a while you begin to 'hear' the difference in interval tones and if you are trying to solo over a chord sequence it also breaks you out of just playing the basic chord scale patterns (which are also crucial to know) and your solos may get a more interesting sound.
As the others have said it takes time and regular practice to 'tune in' your brain, ears and fingers.
The original impetus for this practice was a lesson I found on the Scott Devine bass website.
Cheers