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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. rocu


    Jan 28, 2015
    Missoula, MT

    I use OnSong on my iPad.

    I also use the Amazing Slow Downer app when I need it.
  2. RichardW


    Feb 25, 2016
    near Philly
    First step is just to listen to the whole song--not just for the bass part, but for chord changes and overall feel. Then I usually just play my own line that I think works with the song's general vibe. Then I'll listen closely to the actual line as it was recorded. I like to see how closely what I came up with matches the original recording. I'll try to cop any original parts or riffs as required. If I'm having a hard time, I'll usually seek out an isolated bass line recording on YouTube. If we play the same song over multiple gigs, my line will tend to change over time as well.
    stevecaronna likes this.
  3. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Your question requires a little clarification:

    What is you primary method for learning COVERS.

    When I'm learning originals, I fake my way through playing the roots with the guitarist and then start embellishing as I go. If I need reminders, I tab the song out and keep that as a reference.

    When I'm learning covers I grab an MP3 and the tabs, read through it once or twice, and then start playing along. With the type of music I play, learning by ear is impossible. The tunings are so out there, the speed is often too fast, and the bass lines often buried in the mix. I only play originals live, so I can't say I've ever learned a cover 100% since its just for messing around.
  4. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead!

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Chord sheets or tabs if possible, ear if not.
  5. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Most people refer to this as "tablature," and use the term "notation" to refer to traditional musical notation. "Standard sheet music" is one subset of "notation."
  6. I start with "by ear", but if I run into a difficult to hear passage, then I often search youtube for a "cover" version.
  7. azmati


    Nov 20, 2006
    Fredericksburg, VA
    For covers, my method goes: Hear song, find and use tabs, listen for mistakes in tab, write my own tab, memorize song.

    I only just learned some some basic theory a year ago, after about 15 years of tab and ear. So I can use sheet as well, and have used that too for corrections.

    If no tab or sheet is available, which is rare, I try to use the old fashion method. May try a slow down app in the future. I voted other, since I haven't used some of the methods listed.
  8. I voted all equally,
    because sometimes it is compressed in the mix and you can't get it just right by listening, then I turn to sheet music if available, tabs, and or just the chords of the song. Lastly another recording maybe the band live performing the song posted to You tube.
  9. Charlzm


    Mar 25, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I listen to the song and try to pick out the part.
    This often leads to me hearing and subsequently playing the part wrong, so I back this up pretty much every time with tablature and isolated bass tracks (if available).
    I almost always change the finger position of the notes from the tabs to suit my playing style, however.
  10. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    Ear, isolated bass part, Chart the song.
  11. Ear. Then when I can't figure something out, I'll look up tabs.
  12. seang15


    Aug 28, 2008
    Cary NC
    Notation is the use of notes; you're describing tablature.
  13. A multi-choice poll more accurately shows my method of learning songs: 1) listen and 2) read the music when available. The Real Book is my go-to for learninating.
  14. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    Combination of "listen and pick it apart" and create a numbers chart while listening. Basically, chart as I listen, run through, adjust, walk away until needed.
  15. A number of years ago, after being in an original-only band for a decade, I started working as a sideman and was faced with having to learn increasing amounts of new material. I realized that I had to come up with a good way to do it as efficiently as possible.

    I decided to try and do my best to interpret chord progressions and arrangements by ear in almost every situation possible. Anytime I would hear music playing - overheard from someone's headphones, background music in a store, on television - I would try to quickly figure out the progression and arrangement with as little context as possible. This mostly works for pop, rock, and related genres - not so easy for classical, jazz etc.! (though I'm sure people more familiar with those genres can do it)

    After focusing on doing this ALL THE TIME in every situation that I could, I have become reasonably good at it. So, when presented with new material, I can get the gist of a song - without picking up my instrument or taking notes - in one pass. Now, I don't by any means learn EVERYTHING about a song by doing that! But I probably get 3/4 of it - and then I re-listen and make notes on the stuff I missed. I almost NEVER pick up my bass to do this, except perhaps to check the key of the song (I do not have perfect pitch, but I can usually make a good guess based on typical guitar chords). So by the time I go to rehearse with the full band, I will probably have actually made notes on a few tunes in the set, most of which are about 1 line in length, and might have actually played a handful of songs at all.

    That's what works for me. While more complex songs will certainly require a lot more effort than that, I think that active listening in all contexts is definitely something I can wholeheartedly recommend to any musician.

    Edit: By the way, I think I was partly inspired by an ex-girlfriend's father, who was a heart surgeon. He made a point of NEVER writing down anything, and his memory was incredible.
  16. Back in the day it was lifting and placing the needle in the right groove over and over to get the tough bits that I couldn't make out easily by ear. I'm drawn to tunes that have unusual chord voicings ... so when there is a chord that is difficult to make out these days, I set loop points and may have just one chord looping over and over while I pick out each note in to chord. For example the opening chord of Elvis Costello's "So Like Candy" ... the band was playing the chord completely wrong so I looped it and picked out the chord voicing that sounded right to me.
  17. photogdude

    photogdude ustonsucs Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, Tx
    a combination of everything listed
  18. lowfreqman


    Aug 18, 2001
    behind a bass
    I buy a recording of the tune and transcribe it by hand. The act of writing the part really helps me to memorize the music and has tremendously helped me in understanding bass line construction and ear training. Plus, I have music for the songs my band plays, so when I need a sub, all the music is there for them.
  19. Riffstation allows this as well along with the ability to change the key and it will even show the chords of a song.
  20. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    I have special aux in jack behind my left ear. Mini usb. I import the set list from iTunes, hit play and settle in to watch the dancers. Super easy, no need to waste valuable grey matter storing tunes I don't care about.

    It's great, because I can switch to the "inane small talk with drunks" or "gear chat with geeky dudes" for the between set breaks.

    My most used set list is "sweet talk and fairly reasonable excuses" . That one has some real gems. The "parent teacher conference" has saved my butt a few times.

    You guys don't have this yet?
    jp58 likes this.

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