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Ear training tips from the Bass Gods

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ThomasG, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. ThomasG


    Jul 20, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    I can read music, have knowledge of chords, scales, intervals, etc. I mostly learn tunes by sheet music. But, I feel you should learn all music by ear. It may be the most effective way. I think you need to train yourself to play it by feel and the music may be a hindrance ?

    What techniques, programs or exercises do you cats use. I am now stepping into the world of learning by ear, YIKES !Thanks !
  2. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Simple sing everything you say you know, scales, intervals, sing the bass lines you know, sing patterns and intervals. That gets it into your ear. Then transcribe tunes first learning to sing the lick or melodic fragment, then transcribe from what you sing. That starts getting the relationship between hearing and playing going. Work with a piano it is best tool train the ear. Find someone else who want to work on their ear and quiz each other.
  3. +13
  4. TheBassBetween


    Jun 25, 2005
  5. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Along with DocBop's excellent suggestions another way to get your ears together and learning to play by ear is to play out a lot. Find some jam sessions around your area and start sitting in. If you can't find any local jam sessions maybe get a group of your musical buddies together. Try jamming over changes and grooves you've come up with while practicing by yourself.

    Or play along to CDs or the radio and play straight through, no stopping. Play with your favorites as well as stuff you're not as familiar with. The progressions and chord qualities will start sounding more and more familiar as you hear them over and over. Play along with different genres - rock, jazz, folk and listen to the characteristics that make up the different styles.

    I found playing in T40 cover situations to be helpful. Memorizing and playing 50 tunes a night is helpful because you begin to reconize chord changes and intervals. Also helpful because you're practicing towards a set goal (learning songs) within a certain time frame (the gig).

    Playing out without reading off the stand can be a very humbling experience. It will let you know real quick your weaknesses and what you need to work on. I was playing on a flatbed in a field yesterday and the wind kept blowing the fake books shut*. I was totally lost on a couple of songs, but I really used the experience to concentrate and really hear what was going on. I definitely see room for imprvment!

    *tip: when playing outside, clothes pins or paper clips can be very helpful
  6. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I bought a new CD on the way to rehearsal the other day and heard a song that I wanted our band to play. I listened to the song while driving, and noted the intervals on a post-it note while waiting at stoplights. When I arrived at rehearsal, I plugged in my bass and tested the intervals I'd written down against the CD. The experience was worthwhile; both humbling, and illuminating.

    This experience led me to begin writing down the changes to songs on our set list, with pencil and ears only - no instruments - using the so-called Nashville Numbering System as a form of ear training; it's been interesting to hear how accurate my ears have/haven't been when I pick up my bass to play what I've written down.

    My Dad had solfeggio training as a child, and spent several years directing church choirs, which helped him immensely as a jazz bassist. His pitch and interval recognition skills were amazing; he could sing bass changes, using interval names as though they were lyrics, which is something I'm trying to learn to do - despite having no vocal training and little aptitude.

    Something else to add to my practice routine!
  7. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    Open your library of music and play along to all kinds of songs you like. I do this a lot just for the fun of it and I think it have helped me a lot when learning to identify how various chord progressions sound and what you can play over them. Mostly, I'm not copying the bass lines straight, but I adopt the feel and play them my way. I also practice soloing over records.

    I bought a fretless a week ago, and when I play along to records it's easier to hear whether I'm in tune or not. So there's another advantage with it! :)
  8. sublime0bass


    Aug 2, 2007
    Boone, NC
    i like to figure out by ear tunes and jingles i enjoy

    for example, i started by learning Meow Mix jingle. just by finding the first note and going from there.

    and im at the point where i can do the star spangled banner without thinking too much about it

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