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Learning a song with tab

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fisk, May 18, 2001.

  1. fisk


    Jan 3, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    I've been playing for about 6 months and I take lessons every week. My question is, how do I learn a song without having my instructor figure it out for me and write it down in tab? I have gone to the olgabass tab site, which is awesome and has almost every song ever written, but it gives very little useful info as to the notes to play. The most it has is a few bars of the main riff and chord changes.

    At this point in my playing career, I dont have the ear to listen to a song and figure out ALL the notes. I'm not in a band yet, so its not a big deal. But, I have some friends who I get together with and i've learned a few songs that he has worked out for me. But when I finally do get to a band, i'll need to learn 30 or more songs to do a full gig. That will take forever for him to work out one or two songs a lesson.

    For those of you who cant just listen to a song one time and play it, how do you learn the notes to a song? Is there a place to get sheet music for songs instead of tabs off the net?
    My instructor is a great guy, but I dont want to be dependent on him forever.

    thanks for any help

  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    fisk - I don't want to say throwing money at it is the answer, but a headphone practice unit, like my Korg PX3B Pandora, lets you grab up to 16 seconds of a song, loops it back to you, and you can slowdown the speed of the playback in varying degrees, (and do key transposing, too).

    You're right about the "ear" thing. It took me years. Sometimes I think it's a curse. I can't just sit down and play a lot of songs' bass lines dead-on, because I don't memorize lines much any longer unless they're in our current sets. It's too easy to put on the song and pick it up again. Plus, after this many years, the mental library is jammed. :rolleyes:
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Well, let's say if you join a pre-existing band that has a repertoire of thirty songs, they may have charts that serve as kind of road map to you of the key, the chord progression, the song stucture with repeats, intros, bridges, outros and any unique arrangement such as a total band pause for a half second, or a part where only one instument plays.

    So get their charts. If they have a demo tape or CD, listen to it with the charts. Listen a hundred times if you must.

    If they don't have charts, they may be willing to at least tell you some of the above info. Often the keyboardest...if there is one...knows the key and progression.

    Also, it is unlikely that they will play all thirty songs in a rehersal, so find out ahead what songs they will work on and see if you can find out what you need to know.

    Or you may join a new band. Then, to a certain extent your task is easier, because as you work out songs together, you will come by the information you need at the same time as the others.

    Here's another thing. You might learn a song ahead of time in the key of E, for example. But you get in a band and they want to play it in the key of A, because their singer can't handle E. Those things happen...a lot.

    Yes, you can buy sheet music, but it is expensive. Also, often sheet music doesn't exist for the very song you want to play. Also tab may not exist for it either. So sooner or later you may have to work out a song "by ear."

    Rick Bass is very fortunate to have a machine that assists with that task. The other way is to get a tape and play it back a tiny bit at a time over and over. Seek out the song structure first, verses, bridges, choruses, solos, etc. Then draw a "map" of the song's structure. Tackle only one part at a time, the first verse, maybe. Listen to the drums. Sometimes the drum helps you see where bars are divided. Most important, try to hear the chord changes.

    Another thing, when you first start doing this, start with a simple song...like an O-Town or Brittney Spears song or Green Day. By the way, you may hate the song by the time you think you have it nailed. As you take lessons every week ( a wonderful thing), work out the song as well as you can, play it for your teacher and see if he thinks you are right or at least in the ball park.

    If you could work out one easy song a week for your teacher to hear and adjust, you will be getting excellent practice. Do not get discouraged. It takes dedication and discipline to develop an "ear." You sound dedicated and enthusiastic. That fact alone will take you far.
  4. fisk


    Jan 3, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    Thanks to both of you for the advice.

    That makes me feel a little better. It didnt even occure to me that when I finally do get good enough to join a band, they will probably have a lot of the music already worked out. As far as listening goes, that's something I'll just have to work on as time goes by. I think that would be something to start working on at my lessons.

    I had forgot about books in music stores until someone else mentioned them to me. I'll have to go check them out sometime also.

    Thanks again for the advice.

  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Here's more advice. I just hope you return to this forum to read it. You mentioned books. There is an excellent ear training book.

    "Ultimate Ear Training for Guitar and Bass." with CD.
    By Gary Willis. Hal Leonard Publishing. $12.95., 64 pages.

    The book/CD set is worth every penny if you work your way through this book. Take your time. The last exercises are very complex. Be sure youi don't move on until you have the previous lesson nailed.
  6. fisk


    Jan 3, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    Return here? Of course I will, I love this forum.

    Thanks again for the advise, I'm going to Mars this weekend and i'll take a look. If its not there, i'm sure I can find it online somewhere.


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