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What is the best way to learn a song?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by H2ODog, Jan 25, 2004.

  1. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    What I do (after listening to the song a few thousand times) is play through with the song and try to pick up the root notes. Once I know where the roots are it makes it much easier to figure out the inbetween notes because of the rules that scales follow. Your instructor will help you with this.

    What I did at 2 months was try to learn some "simpler" songs. My first was Golden Earring's Radar Love, followed up with the 1st half of U2's Achtung Baby. Next I moved onto The Police.

    All this stuff can be pretty simple technically but should help you develop feel and groove. I know I was psyched to be able to play along with songs for the first time! Don't give up! It's very daunting at first but you'll get a little better every time you try.
  2. H2ODog


    Sep 30, 2003
    Roseville, CA
    Thanks WP4F, I have been playing along to some blues CD’s that my teacher assigned and it’s been fun. They are slow but it helps, you have to crawl before you can walk. I want to learn some rock songs but they may be too fast for me at the moment so I’m going to look for some slower paced songs to start. Thanks for the input.
  3. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    I've made a excel worksheet into standard notation bars and measures. When I listen to a song that I want to learn, I will chord chart the meat of it on top of the measure and write in standard notation on certain measures that require accents, rests or that otherwise stray from the familiar patterns.

    Chart the extensions! Say your in the key of A and the progression goes from an A to say, F#. Noting the A as Amaj7 and the F# as F#m reminds you of the additional notes that are available to you on the fly.

    I auditioned for a country/rock band and they gave me cassette tapes of their songs, I learned 30 of them in between two rehearsals (two weeks) by charting them as I have described.
  4. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    One more thing, in addition to all of the above - and this applies especially to amateur recordings. Check the tuning! If you are trying to write / play a bass line to a track with the guitars tuned flat and you're tuned to A 440 - everything will sound out, you'll only be able to get so close. you have to tune to match the recording. This does occasionally happen with popular recorded music as well. This almost got me, just last week. I could tell the tuning was off, so I waited until the guitar on the recording played what was supposed to be an E half note - I waited until the E note / chord was sounded and then turned the tuner on to see how it would read (it read E, but significantly flat) My friend always turns the tuner on and then hits play on the track, watching and hoping to get a reading, but that never seems to work very well.
  5. I haven't heard anyone mention this method, and maybe for good reason :p. What I did when I first started out (and still do) was playing along with the CD, but not really trying to play exactly what the bassist in the song was doing; I didn't try and play the bassline on the CD note for note. I'd get the general anchor notes in my head, but I'd experiment some, see what sounded good. I think you develop a good sense of improvisation that way, and you learn to develop your own style better too.

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