Developing Ear

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Uforia, Jan 31, 2002.

  1. I am trying to work on improving my ear so I can play with songs on music or cd's. I have been listening to songs I like like Pink Flyod's Wall and then listen to the bass part real close and then try to find the part on the bass. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice to help me with developing my ear.:confused:
  2. Bryan_G


    Apr 28, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    There is some good stuff in gi about ear trainning. Take it slow, try singing the notes and then finding them on the fretboard, try finding the chords and then figure out what the bass does, but mostly just practice. I have a hard time picking up lines that I hear. I am getting better, but is taking a long long time. Keep at it, and you will eventualy get it.
  3. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    find the 'one'.
  4. I'll try the things you's guy's suggested. Thanks for the advice. Also if anyone one else has any suggestions please feel free to speak up.:)
  5. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    isn't your hubby a consummate professional at this kinda stuff, Uforia? :confused:
  6. Keep humming till you find the key (root). Find that note on your bass then slowly hum each note and go find it. If you do this and avoid cheap shortcuts (tab), eventually you will be able to "play by ear". Don't tab. If you do, it will lead you to being able to play a few songs mechanically but will teach you nothing about learning to play with others.
  7. gbenner


    May 20, 2001
    ocean, new jersey
    t jay, I disagree, tabs can be usefull when trying to ear train. They will get you in the ball park, or even help you to see something you just cant figure out on your own. BUT dont rely on them. As you improve try to use them less and less until you dont need them anymore. And you made a good point about humming or singing the bass line, that probably helps the most.
  8. Yeah, He is and that is basicaly how he plays is by ear, He has had no profesional taining or anything. He just picked up the bass at 12 or 13 in his dad's church and start playing the bass for church.
    How ever he is doesn't help me much, also when I am practicing he is usually not here. He is usually at work. But when he is at home and I can get him to teach and so me some things to help me, he doesn't show me much. He will show me a few things and then recommend some sites for me to go to to learn from when I am practicing.

    You know how bassist are they would rather be playing than showing someone else how to play.:D
  9. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I agree about humming the notes when trying to learn a song by ear. Take it one note at a time and don't let frustration get the best of you (that's something I tell myself hehe :D ).

    Pick a random note and sing it. When you can sing perfectly in tune with the note then try playing a note and then singing it. Pretty soon you'll be able to recognize what note you are hearing. And yes it takes time. This is the way I am going about it tho. Also, interval recognition: play and sing the intervals.

    Hope this helps. :)

  10. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    Start first by learning your intervals.. its a slow process, but once you can sing (just sing. not play) different intervals correctly, then you will have learned helped yourself out alot.. try this simple excersise

    in Major:
    1-4-5-5-1 (2nd 5 sing octave lower)
    5-3-1(sing here the 3rd above the 5th not below it)

    you can do the same thing in Minor.. just lower the 3rd..

    being able to distinguish intervals is very helpfull when figuring out basslines and what not..
  11. On the topic of "The Wall" and with a lot of Pink Floyds "concept" albumns the stay in the same key alot, to kind of link the tonal quality of the disk.

    Most of The Wall is in D. I think Roger Waters tuned his E down to D for a bunch of songs.
  12. Those of us who cannot read the dots have no choice but to play by ear (excepting tab, of course). That's how I've always played, and learned songs. That technique is, IMHO, a vital part of a musician's armoury.

    I'd start by being sure your bass and the CD are in tune: cassettes never seem to be correct. As T Jay says, hum the melody until you find the 'basic' note - the key - of the song. It is usually the one upon which the song either ends or finishes. Then you can hum to find other notes, etc.

    'Don't know your musical persuasions but the good, old fashioned 12 bar might be a good place to begin. They're quite simple (but very effective IMHO) and are usually very predictable. That means you are being fed the same basic pattern / structure over and over again during the one song. That means, of course, that it'll be easier to get the concept of listening into your mind for the purpose of learning how to do it.

    Last night I fiddled about with Status Quo's, Rockin all over the world. Didn't have their CD to listen to at hand, I just fiddled about on the bass until I'd got the basis of the song. It took literally a few minutes to sort out. That's not to run-down that number: it's brilliant IMHO.

  13. Thanks alot guys. Everyone has been giving me some very help ideas. Keep them coming.
  14. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Well I worked on my ear the long slow way - just keep learning bits and pieces over the years. But, I still get stuck on things and I've found a few things to help the process:

    - one note at a time, like people said. Start with the first one, get so that you can sing/hum it, then try to find it on the bass.

    - if you get stuck on one note, move on the next one and come back later. Given the "frame", it can be a lot easier to find the note in between many times.

    - When you think you've got it, try it out of course by playing along. Make sure the volumes are equalized, and off notes should stand out. Sometimes they don't however, especially in fast passages. So, in these cases you need to test each note at a time. Back the CD up a bit, and when the first note comes just play it, and really listen to see if it clashes or not. If it's good, back up again, and just hit the second note. ETC.

    - Places I get caught up: unison (same note in two different places - I find the first one, then keep trying *different* notes for the second one! :) ), and sometimes I just feel like an interval is ascending or descending, and keep trying variants of that, and it really turns out to be the opposite. No matter how good you are, your ear can play tricks on you. Got to just try something that might seem "wrong" if you're not getting anywhere.

    For general ear training, one exercise that I've been shown that's helped me is to pick a specific interval, and work on it for a bit. Say, minor thirds. Pick a note on the bass, play it, then sing it (if it's not in your range you can just go up an octave or three, but it's easiest to start with notes in your range. A guitar might be useful for this :) ). Then sing the note a minor third above it. Play the corresponding note on the bass, and *sing it again*, to make sure you correct your voice. You only need to do this for 10 or 15 minutes a few times, then move on to a different interval. I'd suggest starting with thirds, major and minor. Oh, and practice descending intervals too! Descending major thirds sound very different than ascending ones. After thirds, try seconds, fifths, fourths, then sixths and sevenths (watch out for the sixths, they're hard).
  15. Thanks alot guys for all your help. Everyone has been real helpful. I appreciate everyones suggestion.
  16. 6-stringer

    6-stringer Guest

    Feb 5, 2000
    This is the obvious thing to say, but here goes anyway. The pause button on your CD player is your friend. When learning a song by ear, Just listen to the first note, and hit pause. Learn the first few notes and...hit pause. learn the first few bars and...well you get the idea. If your ear is not in good shape, It'll be time consuming. Just start out with simple material and take it slow. Training your ear in this way is indespensable. And, once you have it down, you'll be a way better player with an expanded repitoure.
  17. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    And: a cd player with a good speedy fast-forward / rewind capability. I have a JVC that starts off slow, then thinks "ok this guy is serious" and starts zipping along. PITA for repeating sections. Even better are some CD players (Sony?) that have "phrase repeat" capabilities, you determine the "start" and "stop" point and it loops forever!
  18. steve 1

    steve 1 Guest

    Feb 18, 2002
    utica, ny
    its impossible to have perfect pitch unless you are born with it, but of course yanni says he developed it (what an ocarina-playing dufus). but anyways, you can develop RELATIVE pitch. have your husband turn his bass around and play intervals, and you have to identify them, and this will help you when you go to learn a song by ear.
  19. Why would I want to do that, I allready have two!:) :confused: :rolleyes: