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Beginner songs to transcribe chord progressions for?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Jamerman, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. Jamerman


    Apr 8, 2013
    As part of growing my confidence in improvising basslines, I wanted to try and learn how to transcribe chords so I would be able to hear them in my head before they are played, thus making my bass lines more suited to that chord at that moment rather than just playing the same type of chord the same way in that style of music.

    I just need something easy to work out to get the hang of the basics. Any sort of jazz would be preferable because that's what I'll be improvising over, but I can see that being difficult for a beginner.

    Help is appreciated, cheers.
  2. grab some of the aebersold play-along discs....you can isolate trracks with the balance control and if jazz standards are what you seek,look no further....
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    If you want to train your ear to hear the chord change - and what the change was - get some old, really old, Country songs. Why? Well first they will be only major chords and there are only three major chords in any major key. Old time Country is I-IV-V7. Be able to pick out the sound of those three major chords in the keys you'll be using, i.e. START WTH THE KEYS OF: C, G, D, A and E then work on some old Rock music, that will still be major, but the ii and vi will be thrown into the mix for some color. You mentioned Jazz. Jazz will probably use a ii-V7-I progression, and may be in some of the flat keys, for the horns, sax, etc. i.e. perhaps a little advanced if you are just starting on your transcribing by ear journey.

    IMO Start with simple songs. Mary had a little lamb, Happy Birthday, Some where over the rainbow; any of Hank, Sr's songs. Simple to complex.

    I had good luck getting my head around how music thinks by using a church hymnal - looking at the melody (treble clef), and then looking at the bass clef. The lowest note in the chord stack (in the bass clef) is usually the root note for the chord that will harmonize this measure's melody notes i.e. your chord for this measure. That gave me an insite on how music thinks, and helped me assume what the next chord in the progression was going to be.

    As most songs - that people sing - revolve around the tonic tonal center (I chord). A song will normally have a lot of the tonic cord (I), a few of the tension chord (IV) and the climax chord (V7) will be placed where a climax is needed, near the end of a phrase or verse to lead into resolution and back to the tonic. That little gem will let you jam to most simple songs. You may see this in simple songs, I-IV-I-V7-I. After you have identified the progression for a verse most verses will use the same progressions, however, the chorus may change.

    So to recap a long story. Be able to identify the three major sounds first, then work on the three minor sounds, if something sounds dark or tense it's probably the diminished chord. Try this; http://www.musictheory.net/exercises/ear-chord
    Good luck.
  4. Jamerman


    Apr 8, 2013
    That exercise looks like it could be very helpful, so thank you very much :)