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How do you do it?!??

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ciaran_hughes, Dec 13, 2018.

  1. ciaran_hughes

    ciaran_hughes Banned

    Dec 12, 2018
    Massive admiration for anyone working stuff out by ear!

    But how do you do it?

    Do you just listen and listen and play and listen till you hear it?

    Is there software to isolate the bass?

    I really need to work a song out and this is how I got to do it so any help is welcome!

  2. BurnOut

    BurnOut It's The Billy Baloney Show Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2015
    The Natti
    Hey, Hello, Welcome to the Secret Society.
    Most times that's how I do it, listen and play it. I came from rhythm guitar land first. That's pretty much all we had back when. Now a days if something is challenging I'll look up the tab or YouTube. I don't usually play stuff exactly how it's recorded. I'll get the feel of the song, and important things from it, then add my own spin. I'm me not them.
    Peace N Chicken Grease
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Yes. that's how I did it back before the internet and tab came into existence. Like everything else, it gets easier the more time you spend on it. A lot of time and patience is required, especially at the start, but IMO it pays dividends in the long term. Having a good ear is a major asset.

    Happy listening...and listening...and listening...!!! ;):)
    retslock, nice_hat, IamGroot and 9 others like this.
  4. Yes, that's pretty much how I do it. Listen, play it, listen again, play it again and again, until I get it.

    I don't know of any software to isolate the bass, so if there's one I want to know too.

    To hear the bass, with iTunes on my iPhone I set the EQ to Bass Booster. While on my S8 I set the EQ like this:
    And I listen with either a bluetooth speaker or an AKG K240 headphones.
    ciaran_hughes likes this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Welcome to TalkBass!

    What song are we talking about?
  6. ciaran_hughes

    ciaran_hughes Banned

    Dec 12, 2018
    Ah right so does changing the EQ setting in iTunes just effect iTunes or is it the phone in general? I use Spotify is all.
  7. After a few years of hearing patterns / intervals / grooves / time signatures, they start to become familiar, and they just start to show up in your hands... If your mind works that way.
  8. didgeribass


    Aug 18, 2011
    This will work (if you are persistent), but I would strongly recommend dedicated and regular ear-training to make the whole process easier. It's like good technique for your ears.
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    First I listen for the structure. For example let's say the song has a repeating 8-bar pattern, I draw bar lines to make 8 empty measures.

    Next I listen for the lyrics and write them in below the staff.

    Then I listen for the rhythm. Is the time signature 4/4, 3/4, 12/8, or something else? I write down the time signature. Then for each measure, I write down the rhythm. I don't know the pitches yet, so I just draw the stems, not the note heads.

    Then I listen for the harmony. Can I hear any familiar chord progressions like I-IV-V? ii-V-I? I-V-vi-IV? If so, I write the Roman numerals above the staff.

    Finally I am ready to figure out the pitch of each note. This is the hardest part for me, since I am kind of tone deaf! But what keeps it from being overwhelming is to go note by note, and ask myself, does the pitch go up, go down, or stay the same? For example "Happy Birthday," from "Hap" to "py" the pitch stays the same, from "py" to "Birth" the pitch goes up, from "Birth" to "day" the pitch goes down, and so forth. I draw a line showing the general rising and falling contour of pitches. Then it is much easier to go back and figure out the specific intervals: does it go up a major 2nd? A perfect 4th? etc.
  10. It only effects the itunes. You set it from Settings > Music > Playback > EQ
    ciaran_hughes likes this.
  11. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Have you ever been around a young child learning to speak? They hear sounds and try to imitate. Some times they get it right, sometimes not. When they get it right, people around them respond. They get feedback. They keep working at it. (and by 'working at it' I mean every waking hour). It's basically a co-ordination connection between ear and mouth.

    That's what you need to do. Listen. Play. Evaluate. Get feedback (if your can). Repeat as often as possible every day. It's a connection between ear and fingers.

    After teaching for a lifetime, I realize that failure in most students comes from 1.) Trying to take too big a step. 2.) not understanding the difference between an event and a process.

    The greatest talent is patience with yourself.
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I used to use cassettes, rewinding to hear sections again and again, but now I use transcribing software. Load up an audio file, loop sections, slow down and shift pitch including up an octave to make a bass line easier to hear.

    The one I use is called Transcribe! It cost me $39, but the demo is free for you to see if it works for you. This app has advanced features I don't even use like being able to guess pitches and chords when you are totally stumped. Theare are other apps like that, some free. Google around and you should find one that works for you.
    Jason42, HolmeBass, bfields and 2 others like this.
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Ear training takes time and practice. It's certainly a lot easier today with YouTube - you can find isolated or boosted bass on lots of tunes - nevermind the playalongs (although not all are created alike).
    IamGroot, ciaran_hughes and lfmn16 like this.
  14. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    This^^. I listen to the whole song. Then I take it apart. Master the easy stuff. Now I'm invested in it, so I start working on the hard parts. And I slow down. I may break it into two or three note phrases. Play really slowly, and think about what my fingers have to do to connect one phrase to the next. Then start to speed up to actual tempo. It takes time, but when I'm done, I have got it well and truly nailed, with the special bonus--most of the time--of not having to look at the fretboard. I have Transcribe, which I use mainly in cases where the key has to change to fit the singer's range, but also to slow down really fast passages.
    maxl, jamro217 and ciaran_hughes like this.
  15. Siggy

    Siggy Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Mostly play along with the song. If needed, Tabs. For tough passages I use Audacity to slow the music, enhance the bass or both.
    HolmeBass and ciaran_hughes like this.
  16. Welcome to TB
    Break it down into small sections work on say the intro till you have it down and move on to the verse and so on.
    what may help you is knowing the Circle of 5ths, so you have a really good idea of the chord changes being used in the song, then playing the root only
    of the chords to get the changes locked and then the bass line will come easier. good luck
    Bunk McNulty and ciaran_hughes like this.
  17. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    It's like eating an elephant - one bite at a time. Get a program like Transcribe! that lets you slow the parts down. Listen to the part over and over. Sometimes it might take 10 minutes (or longer) to figure out one bar.

    It also helps if you know your scales, arpeggios, chords and some theory. Knowing all of that narrows down your obvious choices of where to start. Often times when I see someone with zero knowledge of their instrument trying to figure out a line, they treat each and every note as an equally possible option.
  18. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earth-based Alternative Scientist, Sex Researcher Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2012
    Dallas, Texas
    Funny you bring this up, I was just talking to a friend about this very thing, and how in my opinion music has suffered for it.
    I started playing in 1966 at age 14. I'm from a small town in north central Texas, and this is what is was like for my little band to learn a new song.
    First of all we had to learn about the music. There was no FM radio yet so all we had were am stations from Dallas and Wichita Falls, and we weren't a top 40 pop band. So we had to read. Hullabaloo magazine, which turned into Circus magazine around 1969 or so, was my main source.
    Anyway after you'd read about the music then you had to find the music. The closest record stores were in Wichita Falls almost 50 miles away, so it was a day trip to drive to Wichita Falls, hit the record stores for the vinyl, hit the music stores for strings, and drive back home.
    Now you've got the music, but to learn a song you probably had no way to record it. Cassette wasn't around yet and eight-track recorders were very rare, so that meant sitting at the turntable and lifting the tone arm over and over and over again, for hours, as you figured out the licks by ear.
    So you've learned the music, now you've got to get the freaking lyrics. That means everyone sitting around the turntable and playing the song multiple times while everyone writes down what they think the lyrics are, then comparing notes and eventually compiling what everyone thinks is right.
    So what all of that meant was it took a HUGE commitment. It was nothing you did casually, and just in my mind we appreciated and were deeper into the music because we had to work so freaking hard to get it.
    I don't need to tell you that by comparison today you've got about a hundred ways for music to be delivered to you, then you go on youtube and there's a guy showing you how to play the song as the lyrics scroll by. Yeah that's convenient but in my opinion you're missing a lot. Mainly doing it the old way you accidentally figured out other licks and inversions as you're trying to learn the song you're working on. Consequently by the time we were 15 my little trio could improvise for hours.
    In 1969 my parents bought a console stereo for Christmas with an FM radio and a reel-to-reel tape recorder in it. Just a few months before KFAD and KNUS, the first underground FM rock stations in Dallas had cranked up, and we were right on the fringe where we could pick them up and record. THAT was an epiphany.
    Flooflox, bumperbass, sonny1 and 9 others like this.
  19. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013

    We've all been a child learning how to speak. We all have the ability to do that, so we have the ability to learn and play by ear.

    OP: My advice is to first know the song. Listen to it until you can hum each section of the bass part. Do this without a bass in your hand.

    Also know what the notes on your bass sound like. Could you, right now, hum a chromatic scale from low E to high C? That's all the notes in the first 5 frets of a standard tuned 4 string bass. If you can't, pick up your bass and play every fret while saying the name in tune with the note.

    Making the connection between sound and physical location is a key part of being fluent in bass playing.

    Once you know what the song sounds like and what the notes on the bass sound like all you have to do is make those sounds happen with your hands instead of your mouth.
  20. Songs structure first- intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus X 1 billion, fade for example.

    Getting the structure down first can help you with identifying each part for each section- it's no use trying to blindly play through a song and hope you get EVERYTHING DOWN; because you WON'T!!!

    Learn each section after you know the structure, then worry about getting the notes down/perfect, depending on how OCD/perfectionistic your band is!!

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