Seeking guidance

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Old Ell, Jun 3, 2002.

  1. Old Ell

    Old Ell

    Feb 24, 2002
    St. Paul, MN
    Ok I have 2 questions. I'll start off with the easy one. And i hope this Q belongs on this forum, but i know the second one does. Anyway

    1. I am trying to learn a song(Rapunzel by Dave Matthews Band) And it is pretty simple and straight forward, however, the chorus is very fast and complicated. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on a good way to learn songs effectively/quickly(I.E. if you have to learn a long/complicated song in a short amount of time, what do you do?) This would help me a LOT.

    2. I am learning all the notes on the fretboard and I am also learning scales, but I really don't understand chords. If anyone could explain them to me or give me a title of a good book on chords(or a website link) that would be great.
  2. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I can't believe nobody has answered these questions. Anways....

    1. Really, there's no way to learn a song "quickly" Granted you are probaly going to learn Twist and Shout by the Beatles a lot faster than you are going to learn, say, a Bela Fleck tune, but that's because T&S is a lot simpler. If a song is complicated, you are probaly going to have to work on it a bit. I've had songs thrown in front of me with tons of chord changes or complicated basslines and I thought "there's no way I'm going to be able to play this" but low and behold, I would just immerse myself in the piece, and I would learn it. Maybe I'm odd, but I actually like to woodshed and just immerse myself into learning.

    2. Okay, you know the scales, chords are based around the scales. There's a couple ways to approach it, but I think this would be the simplest way. Okay, let's say you have a C major scale. Your notes are C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. Each chord type has it's own formula. It would go something like this:

    major: 1st, 3rd, 5th
    minor: 1st, flatted 3rd, 5th
    major 7th, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th
    Dominant 7th (usually just referred to as a 7th in a chord chart): 1st, 3rd, 5th, flatted 7th

    There are endless chord possibilites and voicings, but these are the basics. It's easier to learn how to construct a chord simply by it's name, than it is to memorize every chord out there.

    Okay this is how you would apply scales to chords. I hope I can explain this clearly.

    You base your chord note choices off of the notes of the scale. For example, we're in C. If you come to a C major chord, you would think of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th degrees of the C scale. You then would play those notes together to form a chord. Then if you come to an A minor chord, you think of the root, which would be A, then you would think of the 3rd above A. If you are using a C major scale, 3 degrees up from A would be a C. The C gives the A the minor tonality.

    I hope that this sounds clear. It gets more complicated. A lot of times, each chord is it's own tonal center. (Most rock based music follows that) But I think this bit of theory should get you started. :) If I didn't put this clear enough, just PM me or ask me in this post.
  3. Old Ell

    Old Ell

    Feb 24, 2002
    St. Paul, MN
    Yeah I didn't think there would be many ways to learn a song that quickly. I THINK:( I understand the chord stuff, I may have to read it some more, but I JUST started scales, so I may understand it better when i get further along with those. Thanks for your help.
  4. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    No prob bro. :)

    Yeah, I might sound like an old fuddy duddy teacher by saying this, but when learning music, if you try to take shortcuts, you are just screwing yourself.

    Check out for some more chord/scale theory.
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    All the complex songs I've learned, I learn through immersing myself in the song. when I took it upon myself to learn "portrait of tracy" with no outside assistance, I hoarded myself up in my room late at night with my bass, my amp, my headphones, and an mp3 copy of the song(easier to navigate to different parts in mp3 form)I was up learning the song from about 12:30-2:00 and I learned about 80% of it. then the next day I learned some more, and refined parts I thought I knew but didn't. then the next day I learned some more...and then after about a week of slowing adding on bits a pieces here and there, I have learned 100% of that song....every single note. Then once I learned the song almost exactly how Jaco played it, I started having fun with it, twisting harmonic placements and moving notes around...adding new sections...etc.
    I digress.
    the moral of this post is that I've found the fastest way to learn a complex song is to just hoard yourself up with the song, and try and go through it step by step and not all at once.
    either that or just listen to the song a bunch of times and get tabs(though I highly discourage the use of tabs)
    at any rate...have fun learning songs, its a very important part in playing if you ask me.

    as for chords LiquidMidnight did a good job showing the basics and though I've never been there I hear that is a GREAT resource.

  6. sleazylenny


    Jun 20, 2002
    Mpls, MN
    When I've got to learn a song quick I do the following:

    1. Before I even touch the bass, I give the song a good close listen, sometimes 5 or six times through. You'd be surprised how much stuff slides past your ears when your not paying complete attention. ( If it's a song you're very familiar with, you COULD skip this step.)

    2. Make a quick notation of the chord changes, song structure and any deviations or tricks. It doesn't have to be charted or even tabbed. Just a basic diagram of where it's going. If you need to put put on your bass to get the changes ( I can't identify pitches by ear) do it. Resist the urge to start playing the song.

    3. Learn the basic structure of the song, lock it in, then go back and pick up any difficult riffs or tricks. I can't tell you how much time I've wasted trying to nail down a difficult passage while neglecting the body of the song.

    4. Resist the urge to use tab. I've found a large percentage of it to be fairly inaccurate. You don't want to set a line in your head only to have to relearn it because it was tabbed wrong.

    Hope this helps, Sleazy