Do I just suck?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fretbuzz, Nov 8, 2001.

  1. im just curious, how long does it take for you to learn a new song? it seems like it takes me forever to memorize a whole song and play it well. im not talking simple stuff. for instance, it probably took me about 8-10 hours to learn "Witchhunt" by Rush, and that one is not too complicated. now im working on "Breathe" by Pink Floyd, seems like i'll never get there. also, i usually start at the beginning and work my way through, little by little. i'm constantly going back to the beginning of a song as soon as i have trouble. is this the proper way to learn or am i doing it wrong? thanks in advance for any input.
  2. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Sounds pretty normal to me - but, then again, I suck. ;)

    Try breaking the new song into several separate pieces. Learn each piece, then start stringing them together.
  3. i am just assuming here but i think it' because you don't know music theory. I used to just try to memorize songs and it took forever but then when you start to learn theory you can get an idea of what the bassist is going to do for example instead of remembering 5th fret on e and then 4th on a and then 7th fret on a then 6th fret on d etc etc etc
    you will be able to recognize that the bassist is playing 1 3 5 flatted 7th in A. Any how that's just my 2 cents what do I know;)
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    buzz - How long have you been playing???

    The reason I ask is that I have found it a matter of ear training. The more you listen to music, the more attempts you make to comp the riffs, and the more kinds of music you are exposed to, the more easily you can pick up the riffs. (Believe me - my main gig is a cover band. So, comping riffs is essential). However, I know people who are tone deaf, too. They never get it but think they are on-key no matter how many times they hear something.

    The thing is, I was exposed to all kinds of music when I could crawl and started piano lessons when I was still a kid. The reason I mention that is not to aggrandize myself. But there is scientific proof that when we are infants, we use sound as a means to get cues from the outside world to get what we want. The research shows. unless we need a tone/pitch/volume-dependent means of communication, like music, we lose our ability to dial into notes and rhythm as we age. At least, that's what research on babies has shown.

    Fretboard familiarity is crucial - the ability to hear a root note and grab it. I hear a pattern and visualize the fingering and the fretboard position. Usually, I'm close, at the very least.

    To answer your question directly - I can comp a bassline passably well within an hour. A good bassist, like someone on Talkbass, or a band member, will see it's a sham. But a cover-paying, party animal, on the dance floor won't.

    If the bassist I am trying to comp is one of the better ones, it takes days to get it just right. What I heard the first day is not nearly as complex in terms of phrasing, touch, note choice, dynamics, timbre, as what I hear later on a good stereo.
  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    When I was an absolute beginner it took me three months to learn Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and about that long to learn Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark." I would have been devastated, but the entire band had as much trouble as I did, no matter what instrument they were playing. So, it isn't dumbness, by any is lack of experience and understanding of musical structure and theory as FatFunker said.

    What helped speed up my learning of songs was once I learned how to map out the son'g structure: verses, choruses, bridges, solos, key changes, intros, outros, etc.

    I actually constructed a skeleton map of the song with chords. Even later I learned to change those chords to roman numerals, so that I could change the key if needed. Also, by knowing what the function of each chord was and the progression...such as I, IV, V, the song had some logic.

    In contrast, if you are learning the song note for note, measure for measure from start to finish, your task will be daunting and time consuming.

    To make your task easier, learning simple theory and song structure (that's the verses, choruses, bridges, etc.) will help you immeasureably. Also, if you read music, that will help, too. If you are trying to learn songs by tablature, whew, that is very hard!
  6. Uh yeah that's what I meant to say. Man If i spent more time paying attention in english class and less time reading theory books maybe I wouldnt sound like some a dumbass.:eek:
  7. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Depends on the song.

    Some songs I can listen to on the radio, then sit down and play it. Hell, KC and the Sunshine Band's "Ladie's Night," I just heard on the radio, grabbed my bass, then played it.

    Aretha Franklin's "Respect," I turned on and picked it out, and learned the song before it was done.

    The Four Tops "Bernadette." Whooooo boy! With sheet music, took about 6 hours, playing it over and over and over and over and over. Still don't groove it the same way Jamerson did.

    Jackson 5's "Darling Dear." Still working on. Can't seem to get the groove on it.

    Jaco's "Donna Lee." Won't even try it. Not even close.

    It all depends on the song.
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    "Ladies' Night"-
    ...isn't that Kool & The Gang?

    FWIW(& IM tone deaf weasle O)-
    ...learning "riffs" is easier than learning lines like those found in "Bernadette" or "Darling Dear".
    Too, guys like Jamerson never played 'it' the same way twice...variations, though sometimes very subtle, ruled the day.
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I don't know who the hell did "Ladie's Night!" :)

    I love that improvising.
  10. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    It depends on the song as to how quickly i pick it up. Some i can hear and just play, others will take me 8-10 hours, and theres a couple that i just cant get to save my life.
  11. Good advice here, I've noticed an improvement since I started my music course in university and learned some theory. It is much easier to remember songs if you figure it out yourself too. Start with something simple, I picked up my bass while listening to "Sex and Candy" by Marcy playground I was able to play it all through without any problems remembering it after trying to play along with it about 3 or 4 times. Now I've moved on to "Picture Frame of Rage" by the Headstones, much more time consuming because I'm having a hard time guessing the notes because I'm still not familiar with exactly how every scale or mode sounds.
  12. Hey Rick,
    I totally agree (as I usually do). I used to put on a Ruch record, for example, then turn out the lights and envision what Geddy was doing, and with what potential fingering. Once I was pretty sure, I would play along. Usually I was pretty close.

    This is one way to learn by ear, there are many others. As I always say, it's far more beneficial than TAB, which is useless at the end of the song. There's no way to apply it to the next song unless you learn something by ear or decide to learn the next song with TAB, which still leaves you needing ear training.

    Once you can recognize riffs, you can hear intervals. You have to know the probable chords of the key the song is in, but if you know root, 3, 5 and 7, you have the basic skills to figure out a song in fairly short order.
  13. Hey!

    For me it takes from one day to months to learn a certain song.The longer you have been playing bass,the quicker you can learn/pick up new stuff....
    just my opinion.

    Currently I am trying to learn "Under the Bridge" by
    RHCP.Man that is a tuff one for me!!!

    Just keep on practicing.Break the song down into parts/componants if you can,that makes it a bit easier(for me anyways).

    IMHO,as long as you are are making progress!:)
  14. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Deptford, NJ
    takes me 20min-to an hour, for most songs...2 hours for hard songs...i start with the hardest part...then make my way down to the easy parts

  15. Theory, ehh? Coming from the drumming world I have great knowledge of leading in and out of changes, tempo changes, time changes, verses, chorus etc ... but theory huh?

    I have only been fumbling around the fret board for a short time, and already I can see that THEORY is where its at! I have about 2 songs down, but its only by memorizing the dam things note for note(money, comfortably numb), and if I miss one note I am lost until the next measure. Bad stuff. At least I am catching this early and hopefully avoiding bad habits.

    Good luck to me, huh? - and you ....
  16. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    you hgave to think of a pattern to put in your head..easier said than done..but dont try too hard..coz then it doesnt work..good luck with memorising every song you kno!:D
  17. Squad5o4


    Nov 6, 2001
    Abilene Tx
    I dunno what to tell you. I've always been able to learn most cover songs in like 20 minutes to an hour. But some stuff is just really hard. Last night it took me 20 minutes just to learn the main line to the Flecktones "earth jam" i dunno why, just wanted a new groove. No way in hell will i ever be able to even come close to gettin that bass solo. Wooten is almost a golden god, walking fearlessly among men. But then again Jaco is god, so who cares about any of the lessers?
  18. i'm a self made player i've been playing for a year now and i can tell you that the best way to learn the bass is by ear. i know plenty of bassist that spend hours and even days in learning new songs cause they don't know how to make a slide or a slap sound good, or the most common, they don't know how to play a dropped tuned song. they always play it in dropped d tuning and thats all. actually they seem scared to drop the e string to much, personally i like 4 string basses and i love to drop' em even 3 and a half steps. cool sound. i learned that only hearing the song. theory players, try to play staind songs me, it's been awhile or mudshovel in a 4 string in the right way
  19. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    Very very well said. Like what said above, you need fretboard familiarity. Why? Well youll know where the pitch you just heard is most likely to be on the fretboard. You also have to be in the right state of mind, that helps a heap. If your way determined to learn a song, concentrating on that alone, you could learn the song in 10 minutes. But if your minds wandering, or whatever it could take you forever.

    For me to learn a new song? It could be anywhere from hearing a song once or twice, to constantly hearing the song and working on for weeks even months.
  20. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Maybe what I'm about to say is getting away from the main point, espcially since it sounds like you're a beginner.

    I hardly ever play a cover song, note for note, like the orginal. I always try to change something to give it a little bit of my effect. Maybe since I've been playing long enough, I have that freedom to play with "My own style". I don't know. I just think a lot of the bass lines in the songs I cover are boring. (And mine our the be all, end all of bass lines :D j/k) We don't cover songs exact anyways. Our guitarist usually sticks a solo in the song, when there isn't even a solo in the orginal. I think the improvsation is important. Espcially in a professional band environment. There are many times, where the crowd is out on the floor getting down, so it's normal for us to extend the songs. (I.e. add solos, choruses, ect.) I do learn the line the orginal bass player played for certain instances. The main one being that the bass line is a "Signature" line to the song. (i.e. Riders on the Storm, My Sharona, Money, Some Kind of Wonderful, Schism ect.) The 2nd, is that my lame ass can't come up with anything better. :D And the third, is when I hear the bassist do something I don't know how to do, and I want to figure out the riff so I can use it. This is probaly the most important at your stage of the game, as long as you figure out how what they are playing is relevant to the music, rather than just playing a note or run because they did. I hope I at least made a little bit of sense in this post. ;)