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Learning songs and structures

Discussion in 'Ask Tony Grey' started by Redhotbassist, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Redhotbassist

    Redhotbassist

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    Hi Tony, hope you're well!

    I was hoping you could answer my question on this:

    I play in around 8 bands/projects currently (all different styles, which is fun) as i'm sure you may do aswell? or have done at some point in your career??

    Having so many set's and songs to learn/listen to and practice it can get a bit hectic! what would be your best advice to learning songs and structures without losing the freshness of the song, for example.. listening to a track 50 times over.. sometimes can work backwards i've heard? what is the easiest way to learning songs start to finish and keeping the structures really memory tight! let me know what you think, any advice is welcome..

    Thanks in advance
  2. tony grey

    tony grey Supporting Member

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    Endorsements; Yamaha, Fodera, Aguilar, TC Electronic, Peterson, Zoom
    Hi there. Wow that's a lot of bands.
    I have been in situations where I have had to learn a lot of songs by memory in a short amount of time. It can be overwhelming but I have my own little method of doing it.

    I start by just listening to the track once then on the 2nd time through I mark out the form on manuscript for example (Intro, Verse, Chorus, Interlude, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus/Solo, Chorus out) etc.
    3rd time around I start filling in the chords or at least the roots along with any distinctive Bass patterns or groove rhythms.
    4th time I play along with the chart and 5th time I try by memory and just keep repeating until I can play through.

    I move on to the next song after that and repeat the process. After every 5 tunes I run through everything again and I start to really internalize the forms and chord changes.

    One method I have is timing my work load leading up to a gig, so for example if I have 10 days to memorize 10 tunes I'll do 5 tunes in like 3 days and re run through everything then the next 5 in the next 3 days so that's all 10 in 6 days. The last 4 are just reviewing.

    I try not to cram if possible and spend to long over doing it. Once I can play through it I move on and don't go back to it that day. Sometimes just being away from it can help you absorb the info.

    Good luck you have a lot of tunes to learn :)
    It does get easier.
  3. Redhotbassist

    Redhotbassist

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    Hi Tony, thanks for taking time to reply to my question, I will take your advice and test it out, nice to hear your insight on this! All the best. Bill.
  4. tony grey

    tony grey Supporting Member

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    Thank you. Anytime my friend
  5. adamsmatthewj

    adamsmatthewj Supporting Member

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    Have you ever felt like it a muscle that can be exercised?

    I mean, like, the more you do it the easier you pick things up?

    I once had to cram 50 songs in 4 days (I know I know BAD idea but the money was good!). My first night alone in my practice room was awful, but halfway thru the second night's lonely marathon, I was just charting so fast and moving right along that it was like clockwork, and in the end I handled the gig pretty well (well enough to get called back!)

    I feel like it's a brain exercise, the more you do it the more you'll hear the forms and changes and they'll become quite easy. "Oh yeah, that's the VI, then to the IV, now they're on the root, ok I got this..."

    I dunno maybe I'm crazy or I just play music that's too simple HAHA!
  6. tony grey

    tony grey Supporting Member

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    Man I had a very similar experience. I got called for a 12 week hotel gig in Thailand about 15 years ago. It was real short notice and I had to learn and memorize about 50-60 tunes. I thought it would be impossible. But after I got through 10 or so I could write simple charts for them as I was basically listening to the tune.
    Once I have the chart I can memorize pretty easily.
    You are right it's just an exercise like anything else.
    Pop tunes have certain forms where you can kind of start to feel where it's going.
    Sometimes I stick on the radio and learn random tunes for 30 mins or so just to keep the chops up...You never know :)

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