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How long does it take you to get a song down cold?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Chad T, Dec 20, 2017.


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  1. Chad T

    Chad T

    Feb 10, 2013
    Indiana
    I know this varies, but I have this song 99% down, note-for-note, ready to play live if I wanted to.

    How long did it take? Didn't keep exact track, but would learn a section here and there when I have time. I'd honestly say probably 8 to 10 hours. That includes learning the notes and parts entirely by ear, getting the feel and timing down, then practicing run throughs over and over until I had it down cold.

    Is that excessive for one song? haha.

     
    Paul Corrosion likes this.
  2. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I couldn’t really say for myself. It takes as long as it takes with me.

    But I also don’t think I’ve ever learned to play an entire song note for note to match the orginal recording. That’s not something I’ve ever had to do. And I probably wouldn’t be very happy about it if I ever did need to.
     
  3. Chad T

    Chad T

    Feb 10, 2013
    Indiana
    I've only been playing seriously about 3 years. Never had any instruction, so learning note-for-note has been my teacher. I try to get correct octaves/positions and everything down. I do learn from that stuff and actually find it fun. I guess there's a form of OCD satisfaction. But I know at some point I need to add my own spin on stuff. I actually do that already when it comes to playing stuff live, but I could probably stand to branch out even more.
     
  4. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    By ear? With tab support? Peeking at covers on YouTube?

    Depends on how difficult the song is, and the resources available to you, at the time... I try to get the song, note for note, but there's some parts which blend in so well, you take an educated guess as to what they're doing...
     
    TinyE, Reviresco, Kenova and 4 others like this.
  5. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    I feel you, on that one, Chad...
     
    madjazzbass likes this.
  6. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    I had never heard that song before you posted it.
    Now I know it well enough to play it at a gig.
    Took 15 minutes.
     
    obimark, jcsk8, Sixgunn and 5 others like this.
  7. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:... I love this guy. I listened to the start, for a bit... doesn't sound too hard. Maybe, I should listen to it with headphones...?
     
  8. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I don’t think I’ve got your discipline.

    I’ll learn signature parts of a bass line note for note if they’re critical to a song. And I’ll also dissect pieces of a song if I like what I’m hearing since something in it may prove useful someday, or if I’m trying to expand my horizons. But I almost always tinker with things I’m going to be performing unless I’ve specifically been told to stick to an arrangement or a written score. Reimagining bass parts is just something I do.
     
  9. Chad T

    Chad T

    Feb 10, 2013
    Indiana
    I was listening to it in my vehicle and didn't think there would be much to it either, so I decided to learn it. Well, I do a lot of P&W, and most of that stuff is pretty easy. But this song was deceiving. A lot more going on than I initially thought....at least compared to other songs I am used to learning in that genre. I did a video earlier and will post it here in a bit when it uploads to YouTube. If somebody could have that song gig ready in 15 minutes, they are my hero! lol.
     
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  10. saltydude

    saltydude

    Aug 15, 2011
    boston CANADA
    An average hard/ technical song (say STP Interstate love song) will take me about a week playing 1.5 hours a day.
    Last month I learned Whitesnakes Here I go again. Took about 10-15 minutes.
    Just a few examples.
    Everyone’s different and at different levels. Things get easier as the years roll on.
     
    lowplaces, Spidey2112 and lz4005 like this.
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    The song has a four chord verse, a transition to the chorus, the same four chords for the chorus and a bridge.

    I would write this out using my number system: A| 4| 6 | 2 | 1 :|, etc. on the second listening then be done with it. It's not all that memorable (no offense) so I'd make it as easy as possible to nail it. Then I'd email it to myself for future use.

    I've been playing a long time so playing fills comes second nature and I wouldn't bother learning it note for note. More than likely the bassist doesn't play it note for note live either, just follows the structure.

    Total time: 15-20 mins including email ;)
     
    obimark, El-Bob, Grumry and 5 others like this.
  12. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    It's not that difficult once you stop trying to copy things note for note and concentrate on understanding the structure.

    That song, for example, is just three sections and 4 chords. Once you know the chords and where the octave pops go it's really simple. I had the verse and chorus down by the end of the first play through. The other two listens were mostly to get the bridge, because I was having a hard time hearing it on my tablet speaker.

    I've been playing for over 30 years, including a lot of gigs where I had to learn songs like this on the fly, in front of an audience. It's a skill you can develop, though having a natural ability for relative pitch helps a lot.

    My ADD contrasts to your OCD. If it took me more than an hour to learn a song I would quit.
     
    jcsk8, fleabitten, Nashrakh and 5 others like this.
  13. Chad T

    Chad T

    Feb 10, 2013
    Indiana
    I guess I'd like to hear somebody like you's take on this. I really admire such experience and skills. Would be cool to hear what somebody could do with the song in that short of an amount of time.

    From where I stand: yeah, the basic structure is simple and the song isn't earth shattering. lol. But those things he does around the chord changes are what MAKE the song at least somewhat interesting to me. And he plays the same things around the chord changes pretty much exactly the same way in each chorus. Haven't watched any live vids, but I'd bet he sticks pretty close to the recording. But dunno.
     
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  14. Chad T

    Chad T

    Feb 10, 2013
    Indiana
    Okay, this is sticking my neck out here. But here is a recording I did. Not totally there yet and I get a bit squirrely in a few parts, but here goes. BTW, I am 99% pick player. That's just how I roll. I know some consider that a travesty. lol.

     
    DaDo625, DWBass, RawOrange and 8 others like this.
  15. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    It's entirely possible, your OCD is way worse than mine... don't let it drive you insane. Get it as close as you can, and move onto the next challenge...
     
  16. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    Learning songs gets a lot easier when you take the kind of holistic, structural view of them we're talking about.

    Once you remember a song well enough to hum it, and can write out the chord patterns for the sections you should be able to play it pretty quickly. That's the goal at least.

    That said, when I was 12 I met an engineer who would practice the same 10 or 15 minute classical trumpet piece for an hour every day for a year until it was "perfect". Then he would play it in public. Once. And move on to another piece.

    I still haven't figured out if I should be in awe of his persistence or horrified at the living Groundhog Day hell his life must be.
     
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Everything the bassist is doing is fairly basic. If I were to document it more closely it might add another 15 mins. to the process. But I got the gist of the song on the first listen. The main things are to not clash with the groove and play the correct changes. I have to do songs like this quite often. It gets easier with time.

    I don't know the bassist in this group but I do know that touring and playing the same short setlist AND playing it note for note each and every time would likely get boring for someone who has some time on the instrument.

    Once you've been playing awhile it helps to recognize correlations between what you already know and what you're listening to. This song is basically Maroon 5's "Sugar", another very easy song to pick up.
     
    willbassyeah, Chad T and lz4005 like this.
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    One of the things that fascinated me early on was that quite often I'd run across someone who learned every song note for note... and couldn't deviate to save their life. Folks who could even play a Jaco solo and absolutely nothing else in that vein. I was that way with trumpet... a good mimic with no foundation in theory. Switched to bass, decided not to be a trained monkey and things have been better ever since. I'm not trying to sound like anybody else but me. I guess it comes down to being that bassist that can nail "The Flight of the Bumblebee" at 400bpm or play thousands of songs authentically. I chose the latter, no regrets.
    ;)
     
    coves, JMacBass65 and lz4005 like this.
  19. Chad T

    Chad T

    Feb 10, 2013
    Indiana
    I actually have a basic enough understanding of theory to get what's going on, so not totally trained-monkey-ing it. haha. My thing is learning songs note for note has helped me apply theory and learn how to do and add things to songs. But at some point, I need to stop robotizing songs and have the confidence to know that I have enough background to put my own flare on things. Just not sure when that will happen. I come from a guitar background where a lot of my heroes learned songs note-for-note and boasted about how that developed and cultivated their style. Perhaps that doesn't happen as much in the bass arena.
     
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Nothing wrong with learning note for note early on... it can be a great way to start recognizing shapes/ intervals/ patterns. If my experience was typical you won't know when you got comfortable. It sneaks up on you.

    A tip: Work out any difficult passages at slow speed until you have them under your fingers. Repetition at slow speed will help you work up to faster speeds. Just like the Karate Kid.
    :D
     

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