How long before you're cruising!?!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Cougar, Nov 20, 2015.

  1. Cougar


    Feb 15, 2014
    Hey Guys,

    Wondering how many of us can hear a song for the first time and pick up the chords, melody and rhythm quick enough to be able to play along with it fairly well before the song ends? I can with relatively simple tunes, but get stumped by the fancy!

  2. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    For me, about a month.
    catcauphonic likes this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Depends on the song. Simple songs that stay in one key aren't hard at all unless there's a complicated part or riff, I can do those "on the fly" if in tune with it. Things get more complicated / harmonically sophisticated, it's going to take longer. I once tried to figure out Mahavishnu's "Dance Of the Maya" from scratch. Gave up after many wasted hours. A decade or two later, I tried again with accurate tab, same result. I love listening to it, but playing it is beyond the beyond in terms of my abilities. Same for lots of the KC I listen to.
  4. That's one of the reasons I use my t.v. cable subscription music stations for practise. (Stingray).

    Just turn it on, pick a genre, and then play to whatever's on.

    The important thing is to see if you can recognize the chord progressions in a given song....because many of them use known progressions a lot or segments thereof.

    When I first hear one I don't usually go "note for note" on the bass....but I can get pretty close a lot of the time.

    I get stumped on a few all the time....
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  5. Been playing for a long time - rhythm guitar, banjo, electric lead, bass. Give me the key and I'll wing a progression and get most of the changes. Not knowing the key I'd have to run my G string up the neck till I found the tonal center - and that is not 100%. Relative pitch does not come easy for me.

    So I rely upon sheet music till I get to know the song. Sheet music on the stuff I play is easy to find.
  6. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    With one of the groups I'm in, we at times play "Stump the band" with the audience. The BL knows a ton of material, and we usually get the tune right. On some tunes where there is a tricky change, the BL will just hang on a chord, and fake his way through. I'll follow. I'm usually given the key and a rhythmic feel. The rest we figure out on the fly.
  7. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Y'know the joke about "you don't have to be the fastest guy to outrun a man-eating long as you're not the slowest"

    I'm like that in all the bands I've ever played with: no matter how long it takes me to pick up the changes or harmonies or lines, there's always at least one other musician who takes longer.

    Good for job security.
    Oldschool94 likes this.
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    It amazes me how many people CAN'T do this, even people who have been practicing the bass for a year (or longer)! What are they doing with all that practice time that could possibly be more important than the ability to hear and play songs??
  9. I think it has to do with what you learned to hold your own in a band situation. In my case the BL hands out fake chord charts and you are expected to follow the chart - as that is what the rest of the band is using. As a result there was no need to go the "ear route". There are few songs - that we play - I can not find fake chord sheet music on. And to the old story that fake chord is always wrong - during practice if we need to change something we do.

    Later on we do start jamming and by then we can pick out the basic I-IV-V (i-iv-v) movement. Where I jam that is enough.

    IMO it depends on what you start out using, I use sheet music. Why? I find it easier.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  10. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    I've been told I have a "Good Ear" - I can pick up a song on the fly very quickly unless it has some strange chord progression. After listening and playing for so many years, I can sorta know where a song is going. Of course I play much simpler the first time around.
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    It surprises me there are bassists who don't agree with you and me that this is an essential skill. There is this ridiculous myth going around that some musicians are born with a good ear, and the rest of us are screwed. Guess what, you have to work at it every day like any other skill. There is no such thing as "tone deaf" (assuming no hearing impairment or neurological problem) it is just a question of, did you have the right teacher and did you put in the practice hours? Anyone (assuming physically healthy ears) can learn to play by ear practicing 1 hour per day for 1 year, with the right method and teacher.
  12. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    My previous band liked to throw me to the wolves a lot. They had been playing together for 12 years or so and I was the new guy, and they didn't use set lists. When I joined the BL gave me a list of about 20 songs to learn, and I asked, "Don't you need more than 20 songs for a gig?" He answered, "Oh sure, you can just pick up the rest as we go." And that's pretty much what happened. He'd just called out, "Jonny, this one's in A!" and off we went. He would play with his guitar neck to the right of the mic stand (I stood stage right from him) so that I could follow his hands (glad I had decided to learn a little guitar). Most of them were pretty simple three-chord or even two-chord songs, maybe with a bridge to throw me off, but on the whole we held it together without a lot of trainwrecks and I gained a lot of confidence and a better ear from doing it.
  13. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    It all depends on the music itself, how prominent the bass line is. If the bass is hidden in the mix, and sharing sonic space with say a low tuned guitar, or keys, it can take me a while, but say for example, the Pretenders Brass In Pocket, I heard it on the radio on the way home from work, and thought I should play that, got home, and hooked my phone up to the 3.5mm input in my amp and played right along. Yeah I missed a few transitions, but mostly got it...
  14. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Honestly, I'm with you here in theory. I started learning reading from ground up books like Ed Friedland's Hal Leonard series, at the same time I picked up bass as my first instrument a few years ago. Realized after a few months that if you took the book away, I drew a blank.

    Even with the tabs in front of me, I have trouble picking up a song quickly. My ear can pick up on only the most evident notes (a lot of Bass is hard to hear in a recorded mix.)

    Got a teacher (or two) who taught me things like time, intervals, & scales. At the end of the lesson we would dissect one song I liked so I knew how to play it when I got home.

    Once I joined a band whose songs aren't terribly complicated, putting my own basslines to them & practicing with them grew my playing in leaps and bounds above the books at home. I still need to look at the rythm guitarists fingers if he introduces a new riff before I can jump in.

    I envy people with good ear skills. I need to get better at that in a big way.
  15. Oldschool94


    Jan 9, 2015
    I agree. I think a lot of people have bad feels from not using their ear much, but don't notice cause they mostly think about the notated chords/mechanically playing the written rhythms. If you can't figure out what others are playing by ear, good luck hearing what YOU sound like.
  16. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    I'm not getting the correlation of the bolded part
  17. Oldschool94


    Jan 9, 2015
    Hearing yourself objectively is very difficult. It takes well developed ears. It is not easy to figure out where you are placing the beat: behind, in front, in the middle, what your tone really sounds like, what you are accenting. Especially when you are playing it. IME the guys I see who never use their ears in the shed tend to be pretty clueless about their own sound too.
  18. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Gotcha. Recording every thing our band does helps with that, and thru the books and collective TB knowledge I've learned the importance of timing, tone, less correct notes over too many, front/behind/on top of, etc.

    I thought you were saying if you can't play notes/changes by ear, you must suck in all departments
    Oldschool94 likes this.
  19. Oldschool94


    Jan 9, 2015
    Nope. Hypothetically you could never use your ear to learn anything (classical musicians all day) and sound great. So I guess there is a huge exception to my claim.
  20. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Thanks for clarifying!
    Oldschool94 likes this.

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