I suck at playing by ear =(

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Albini_Fan, May 14, 2003.

  1. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    I am just so terrible, I can hum the rythm but I don't even know if the notes are going up in pitch or down in pitch when I'm humming them. Like, I'll try to play along with a cd and I'll just get upset and sad. Because I suck so bad at it. I can't tune by ear, and I don't even know how to tell if a song is 4/4 or 7/4 or any of that =(

    help =(
  2. had that problem.. practice your ass off.. you will learn in time.. I still struggle a bit.. but I have gone from not being able to tell which is higher a semi tone apart to being able to listen to a passage and remember it in my head long enough to figure it out on bass (usually haha)... Keep up the work... Not everyone gets it right away.. I didn't and my band is pretty successful now.

  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I don't know what to say to help you with this. I'm afraid I can't relate to that at all.

    Maybe a teacher would be a good way to go? If you can't tell whether you're going up or down, perhaps you need some outside guidance, so you can relate what you're singing to what's happening, musically.
  4. ZonPlyr


    Apr 29, 2003
    Pasadena, CA
    Gary Willis has a great book available to help with this Ultimate Ear Training for Guitar and Bass. I found it a great help even though I don't have trouble learning songs by ear, it helped me hear passages and tunes that I would have had to grab my bass for before.

  5. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Relax, keep at it. It just takes more time for some people. Maybe you could start with some really simple tunes to get your ear tuned in.
  6. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    start simple. When i was 12 and starting out the first song i learned by ear was, now don't laugh, "Running with the Devil" by van Halen:eek: :bawl:

    it took me 3 days to figure out the first note.

    that was 24 years ago...now i'm pretty good at it.

    don't worry tho - it will not take 24 years for you to get proficient at ear training.

    just practice.
  7. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    Moley's right, a good teacher can show you things that may take you years to stumble upon on your own. Until then, incorporating scales, modes, and intervals into your practice routine can help you determine which direction the pitch is going.
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    :eek: :D
  9. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    I have a teacher, I like him. He has a great personality, but I don't think he's a very good teacher. I asked him about learning by ear, and he told me to bring up a CD I wanted to play. I brought up Big Black - Rich Man's 8-Track (My favorite band, my favorite CD, my favorite bassist. I'd DIE for his tone, read on) Now, he just started to play to it without talking to me. The only thing he said to me was "I can't pick out any of the notes, it's too distorted. It's in Drop D, and he's playing really hard with a pick. That's how he achieves his wretched, horrible, buzzy tone. That was it. And, he hasn't taught me any music theory after a month of lessons. He's waiting on the music store to get "the book" he usually teaches out of. Sigh.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Tone is subjective - I hate distorted bass as well!! ;) If you're trying to pick out detuned, distorted bass lines in amongst heavy guitars and loud drums, then I'm not surprised you're struggling! :meh:
  11. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Get another teacher
  12. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the teacher. You have told us what he is not teaching you, what is he teaching you? He may be teaching you what you need to know instead of what you would like to know.
    I agree with Bruce (and your teacher) about the detuned, distorted bass lines.
  13. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    Well, he usually teaches out of a book. He gave his only copy to another student, and he had to order one for me. And the music store has been real slow getting it, or something. But aside from that, he's really improved my technique, he gave me alot of fingerings to practice. He taught me the chromatic scale, octaves ect. Really basic stuff, but I'm no advanced musician :p He explained the frequencies, alot of little things. Like how to solder a loose wire in my input jack ;p

    Big Black's bass isn't distorted (Well, maybe a little overdriven from thier bassist's SVT), it just has a really buzzy high end. DL Big Black - Kerosene or Big Black - Big Money or Big Black - The Big Payback (If you want to hear what I listen to and try to play). The bass is really prominent in the mix, thier guitars arn't heavy at all! They sound more like vacuums, no heavy drums either. Unless a roland is heavy :( I just SUCK!
  14. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Earlier you said he wasn't teaching you any theory. That's why I said to get another teacher. Now he is apparently teaching you theory.
  15. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Teaching theory out of a book. Hmmm... if he *knows* theory, why does he need a book to teach it to you? And if he needs a book to teach it to you, does he really *know* it?
  16. dabshire


    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    How long have you been playing? How long have you been dealing with music at all for that matter? If you haven't been playing long, it makes sense that your ears are not too good.

    It takes time and much practice to develop your ears. I have been playing bass about 6 years now (off and on), but before that I played French Horn in high school and junior high band for 6 years, and before that I took piano lessons. Don't give up or get too frustrated. Just keep plugging away, and eventually it will come.

    Like was suggested by others, try some easy tunes first to get everything started. I started with old U2 tunes (does that date me now? I feel old :)) and worked my way up. Also, run scales so your technique will improve, and listen to what you're doing and you ear will improve as well.

    Just my thoughts,

  17. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Some people like to use a structured course of study. Personally, I'm more in the 'adapt to the moment, draw on your personal experience' school, but that doesn't mean the guy is incompetent.

    On the other hand, if he's lent out his only remaining copy, that is a bit careless!

  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    There are quite a few threads in the GI archives on ear training.

    One thing I've routinely mentioned is learning with the blues. While the blues may not be your favorite style of music, in fact, you may not even like it at all, it provides a wonderful structure for learning. The blues use a system of chord changes that is predominant in all popular music right now. With traditional, straight-ahead blues, you know that you're probably looking at one 12 bar pattern, repeated over and over and over. And that 12 bar pattern is most usually going to be, (in the example of Bb):

    Bb / Eb / Bb / Bb
    Eb / Eb / Bb / Bb
    F7 / Eb / Bb / Bb

    It could be some slight variation of that pattern. But, the point is, that the blues usually use the I chord, the IV chord, and the V chord. If you'd like some further information on what those are, check out the link at the bottom of this post.

    The wonderful thing about the blues is that it will train your ear to do many things; 1) to hear the change from a I chord to a IV chord, 2) to hear the turnaround of the V chord to the IV chord to the I chord, and also, 3) to hear a 12 bar pattern, and understand the rhythmic value of it.

    With the blues, really, all you have to find is one note. If you can find what note they're playing for the first bar, you know they're going to the IV and to the V, and you can just follow along. Then, it makes it easier to find the other, individual notes that bassist is playing.

    In regards to time sigs, it's really beneficial to have a teacher. The main thing is to be able to count aloud, and clap along, to any time sig. If you have a drummer friend, perhaps they can help you with this. Just make sure it's an educated drummer friend.

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  19. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ok, fair enough.