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Suggestions of songs to learn by ear?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by DaveT, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. DaveT


    Jun 13, 2005
    Herts UK
    Firstly yo to all at TalkBass.

    I really want to learn to play by ear but im lazy and just getting tabs off the internet is far too easy.

    Really I’m just after suggestions of some bass lines that you think aint too hard to hear i.e. stick close to a scale and/or are clear to hear in the mix, for me to try and figure out.
    This season im mostly listening to your indie rock n roll type stuff but am open to any suggestions.
  2. chardin


    Sep 18, 2000
    Welcome to Talk Bass DaveT. Here are a few albums to get you started.

    • Joe Jackson, "Look Sharp!" -- Graham Maby is really up front in the mix.
    • Santana, "Abraxas" -- Simple, really fun bass lines.
    • U2, you choose -- Adam Clayton plays lines that are fairly easy to pick up.
  3. Kroy


    Jan 19, 2006

    New Year's Day is a really good tune that is actually kindof built around the bass riff instead of the guitar for once.
  4. DaveT


    Jun 13, 2005
    Herts UK
    Cheers for your suggestions, i will be having a go at them this evening
  5. RolandMHall

    RolandMHall Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Return of the space cowboy. Learn that song from start to finish
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Learning to play by ear is not about learning to play songs off a CD. It's about EAR TRAINING - learning to hear intervals in one octave, intervals in the second octave (tensions), triads in all inversions and in closed and open positions, 4 part chords, 4 parts with 1 tension, 4 parts w/ 2 tensions, and then the wonderful world of polytonality.

    Then when you HEAR a bassline (or whatever) do THIS, you can say "oh he's playing an ascending line that starts on the second degree of the chord (which is the tonic chord) that goes up a minor third and then moves scale wise" Or whatever. And then you just play what you hear.
  7. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Totally agree^^

    I remember when I started playing bass, I had a hard time hearing other instruments in the band.
  8. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat

    You will definitely have no problems hearing the bassline on that recording.
  9. el_samurai

    el_samurai Guest

    Oct 20, 2005
    maybe GREASE of Jonh Travolta
  10. DaleD


    Nov 12, 2005
    Colorado Springs
    RUSH - Freewill :bassist:
  11. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    Rush is a tad bit complex don't ya think?

    Try pink floyd - money, hey you
    Led Zeppelin - Dazed and Confused, Ramble on
    Queen - Another one bites the dust, under pressure
    The knack - My sharona
  12. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Specially "Freewill"! The bass solo may be loud and clear, but it doesn't make the song an easy one. "Tom Sawyer" is way less difficult IMO.

    My suggestions:

    - Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
    - Kiss' "Cold Gin", "Goin' Blind" and "Sure Know Something"
    - Frank Zappa's "Catholic Girls" (the original version from "Joe's Garage"). It has some demanding polyrhythmic sections, but it's an overall cool tune to learn
    - Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" (mostly a great riff with the guitar)
    - Chic's "Good Times"
    - Lenny Kravitz's "Mr. Cab Driver" and "It Ain't Over Till It's Over"
  13. Kroy


    Jan 19, 2006
    I may be putting my foot in it by challenging the great and powerful Fuqua, of whom many board posts tell tale. And let me say first off that I'm not disagreeing with what you had to say, only amending because your take on this idea seems largely negative. :)

    Learning bass parts (or chord progressions) by listening to them and figuring out what they are by ear, can be an excellent in-road into more advanced ear training. I started out as a self-taught (as much as one can be) guitarist and I basically learned to play both guitar and bass early on by listening to recordings and watching videos of performances (not instructional tapes). Once I had a decent grasp of some basic open guitar chords, I would sit in front of the radio and do my best to figure out a song in one sitting. If a song came on that I didn't have recording for, I basically had one shot to figure it out until I heard it again the radio. At that stage, I never succeeded completely, I would end up with half a verse or part of a chorus and maybe a chord or two of the bridge. But what did happen over time is I became very accustomed to hearing the open voicings on the guitar and fairly early on (only a year or two into playing) I could hear almost any chord played in those voicings and identify them by sound alone.

    Fast forward about 3 years to college when I had to take Sight Singing and Ear Training. I picked it up much faster than the other students, even though, comparitively, my reading skills were pretty bad. So from that I was able to build fairly decent ears (my sight singing is still pretty rotten). Basically, without my knowing, I got a good jump on ear training simply by learning to play songs from the CD. These days I can take a most simple pop songs, listen to it once, and play it back probably 80% accurate; and I know for certain that I owe much of it to those hours I spent in front of the radio.
  14. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    I just learned (by listening) "sir duke" by stevie wonder yesterday (the horn unison part is so much fun to play espesially when stevie is screaming in the background....hehehe)

    As for your question you should choose the songs you like to play it's much more fun to learn something you like especially when you have to listen to it over and over and over to nail the exact bass line.

    Tip: if the bass is not out in the front in the mix you can always use sound editor software or actually any media player they all have EQ, so just emphasize the low or low mid to make the bass line more audible in the mix.
  15. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    heh, Me and my buddy (guitarist) were watching the punk show on much music last night when green day "american idiot" came on. He figured it out 100% in about 30 seconds, and I figured out the chord progression despite a barely audible bass. It was hilarious, considering we both have terrible ear training.

    What you may want to start with is incredibly easy stuff, even though it may be painful to listen to. green day, blink 182, sum 41, three chord crap like that is a good way to start. Do a million of those and you'll have an easier time transcribing harder music.
  16. The Ramones are just eas chord progressions, and all fairly simple - thats what i learned on
  17. mattsk42

    mattsk42 Supporting Member

    I agree with the Santana. Sounds harder than it is when you're just starting out.
  18. learn the solo to sinister minister by ear

    then you should pretty much be able to figure anything out