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What is Your Primary Method of Learning Songs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassFishingInAmerica, Mar 2, 2016.

  1. The old fashion way: listen to the song and try to pick out the bass

    170 vote(s)
  2. Standard sheet music

    11 vote(s)
  3. Notation

    20 vote(s)
  4. Programs / Apps to slow down audio

    13 vote(s)
  5. Online lesson videos

    14 vote(s)
  6. Isolated bass parts

    4 vote(s)
  7. All equally

    41 vote(s)
  8. Other

    21 vote(s)
  1. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    I remember when I started playing in the 70s, I almost exclusively used the listen / repeat method, suffering through dozens of replays by lifting and dropping the phonograph needle in just the right groove on the record.

    Next was song books, quickly followed by musical notation, which was incredibly easy and accurate.

    But lately, with anything and everything being available on the Internet, I realized that using notation, for me, has only become a supplement to the thousands of lesson videos.

    Although I still use every one of the methods I have listed, I would have to say that the number of isolated bass parts online has made learning most classic songs so much easier.

    So, what is your most useful way to learn songs?
    bassbobh, Ric5 and Buszkock like this.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Guess I'm just an old fashioned kinda guy. :)

    Maybe things have changed now, but when I was first learning, "standard sheet music" generally meant "easy piano arrangements" and was usually nowhere near the real thing. I know there are more "note for note" types available now, but I enjoy figuring them out, actually, when I bother to take the time. Makes one a better player too by exercising the ear / brain / fingers connections, in my opinion.
  3. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I picked "ear"
    Most of the songs I need to learn are uncomplicated and lend themselves to picking up by ear

    At a certain experience level, musicians simply become adept at replicating what they hear easily. Ear the becomes the quickest path.

    That said, I tend to either transcribe or simply chart as I go as well. Is that what "notation" is meant to cover?
  4. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    I used to think I was playing certain songs exact, until I was able to listen to some of these isolated bass parts.
  5. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    No. Transcribing or charting after you learn a song as a way of remembering the song would be different. I'm thinking more like the vast number of online sites that have every song in notation.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    What's the difference between sheet music and notation?

    Ideally I like to have a chord and lyric sheet to look at while listening and learning the part by ear.
    Dave Curran and 5below like this.
  7. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    I see sheet music as being traditional music notes, where notation is specifically for the stringed instruments, using the staff to represent the number of strings.
  8. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I look up chord and lyric charts and listen to the songs with the Anytime Pro app, my iPad and headphones. Anytime Pro sure beats the old phono lift-and-drop-the-needle method. Easy pitch and speed changes and loop repeats.
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I learn everything by ear. Once in a blue moon I'll use tabs, but only published ones. Never use online tab. I've never seen any that was accurate.

    I also am made very happy by the isolated bass versions of songs. I've realized also though that often times it ain't the real thing, but someone playing a bass track over the original. What's good about that though is that most of the people ballsy enough to do that have been pretty dead on.

    First thing I ever learned on my own was the guitar solo for Smoke on the Water, on Made in Japan. Started around 8pm and went straight through to the next morning. Scratched the crap out of that album. I remember after that using a cassette recorder. I'd find the speaker the guitar was coming out of, plant the recorder in front of it, record and then learn. Cue and review was essential for that. Learned songs like that for a long time. Then went to CDs, and now of course mp3s that have been converted from youtube.

    Kids these days have it real easy :).
    MrLenny1, kcandme, onda'bass and 6 others like this.
  10. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I use jamup with my iPad. It allows me to mix my bass with a SVT sim, the level of the music, and change speed, key, and replay tricky spots. You can loop a spot, and slow it down to help with picking out the details. I check online occasionally. Online tabs are mostly garbage, and YouTube videos can help, but mostly it's just using my ear.
    Without jamup, I'd feel like a major practice tool would be missing. It just makes practicing soooo much easier.
    Esoge and BassFishingInAmerica like this.
  11. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    I've heard other people mention this but never believed it because I've never been able to tell 100% (or even 10%). I've also heard quite a few people say an isolated track was faked, when it obviously wasn't.
  12. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    That JamUp app is great for headphone practice. Never knew it could loop a part like that. Off topic: the simulated effects are unbelievably accurate. The OC2 even glitches on the low notes, like the original.
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    As a kid, I practiced by playing along to the radio, so it's gotten to be pretty easy to pick up new tunes. At the same time, my main band is entirely sheet music based, so I'm happy to do it either way.
  14. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Combination of looking up the lead sheet online with the chords written out over lyrics and just listening.
  15. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I play classic rock, so sheet music is rarely an option. I start with the recording and the best chord and lyric sheet I can find just to be sure of the chord changes. Then I do my best to figure out the bass line by listening. I'll go to Youtube bass covers if I'm unsure about a part, just to see what someone else thinks is going on. Maybe tab too. Most of time online tabs suck, but once in a while they are spot on.
  16. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    I know they have lighted fretboards that light up chord patterns, but has anyone invented a lighted fretboard that can be programmed or work with a computer to light up all the notes of an entire song, as they are played? Just wondering if learning songs can get any easier.
  17. sketch


    Oct 16, 2013
    Tacoma, WA, USA
    I'm like most everyone else, more or less:
    - listen to the song (usually while cooking/cleaning/laundry) to get it in my head ~20-30 minutes
    - listen to the song with my instrument and begin plodding along
    - (IF I can't grok something) check for a chord chart / tablature to put me in the ballpark & try again
    - (IF I still can't grok it) go to the YouTubes and try to find a playthrough which is close to the version I'm trying to learn
    - one hour repeating the song over and over, simultaneously playing along (as close as I have it)
    - go for 5 times through perfectly, SOLO
    - (at rehearsal) listen to the other musicians; each and all provide criticism
    - (IF mistakes / incorrect transcription) back at home, repetitively play along to the song until I've got it.

    Sometimes we didn't have band rehearsals, and that's where improv and non-verbal communication skills come in.

    Great topic, BTW. I hadn't heard of that Jamup, I'll look into it.
  18. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    Note: Poll choice "notation" should be "tablature," since all written music qualifies as notation. Couldn't change it once the poll started.
    Charlzm likes this.
  19. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Im an ear learner. Sometimes I'll import a song into Reaper or Sound Forge and loop a section if I need the extra help
  20. Isn't that what these do?

    The Official Home of the Fretlight Guitar

    I could have sworn they had a bass too, but not seeing one on there now.
    BassFishingInAmerica likes this.

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