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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. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Transcription is what I use anymore. Is that "ear + notation"?
  2. If it's something difficult/fast (Spain, Sir Duke) I'll slow it down and sometimes loop parts with Soundforge.
    Youtube videos and tabs can help, but often I find they are wrong or they play in positions that make it more difficult than it needs to be.

    What's cool is there are a lot of live performance videos on youtube where you can watch the bassists left hand to see how they played it. Sometimes that helps.
    stevecaronna likes this.
  3. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    I've trusted my ears and rudimentary foundation knowledge of theory and intuition of changes / modulation to get me through 99% of the transcription. Rock, Country, Pop, Funk...almost always the case.
    The final 1% is usually the candy licks and other frippery that warrants a re-listen.
    I absorb and familiarize for a day or two and establish key and build from there.

    Been working for 20+ years now and I never am hurting for work, so... it works.
    I transcribe for others too and never had any complaints on my charts.
    The only time it's a chore is when I don't fully dig the tune, but I invest anyway, and the performance end of it makes up for that.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
  4. I go to Youtube and listen and learn. Sometimes I will check out a bass cover video, but not too often. Sometimes I will check out the chords online as a guide knowing that they are not always right. One time a band mate gave me a CD of songs that I listened to while I did some painting and cleaning. I printed out the chords to a new tune from the internet and then played it on the spot at practice. Nobody in the band knew that I hadn't actually practiced the song.
  5. I first start by hearing the song. If the bass line sounds simple enough or I really like it, i'll go through the effort of picking it up by ear. If the bass line sounds to complicate, way too buried in the mix or filled with fills, then I'll look up a tab or chord chart (I find that copying fills note for note unnecessary because 9/10 they are improvising). Now, if I can't find a chord chart, sheet music (I'm not a big fan of having to read sheets but will do it if necessary or in a jazz or ensemble environment) or tab, then I'll play and replay the song over and over until I pick it up by ear.

    That being said, I have found that some artist are generous enough to make at least a short youtube video explaining what they are playing in the track. I find those be extremely helpful when trying to learn the song.
    hover likes this.
  6. SonnyBassPlayer


    Nov 29, 2013
    If the song is in my playing capability range, I use my ears. If I encounter some harder to understand parts, I'll go looking at some YT covers: than, with the help, I try untill I get it by myself.
    When I started playing, I used to use tabs and covers. After the 5th song in a row that was inaccurate, I started training my ears.
  7. Susqmike


    Nov 15, 2011
    Hmmph. I've been playing bass for 30 years. I consider myself a progressive player. I couldn't play one cover tune to save my life. I practice for an hour every day but could never see using time to learn a cover tune when there's so much to explore. Yes-i understand that i am a gorgon. But i don't think that my playing has suffered. Quite the contrary...
    Helaskold likes this.
  8. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    Old fashioned way is the best way for me.

    In fact I spend more time listening than practicing. Living in an NYC apartment, juggling a career and raising kids all interfere with practice time of which I have precious little. So other than band rehearsal once a week, I don't practice much aside for some doodling. But I am always walking around so I always have the earbuds in!

    Usually listening to the song is enough for me to pick out the bass line unless it is something really complex. And then from there I listen to memorize song structure and any nuance in the bass part.
  9. When I first started out (waaaay before mp3's), I used to listen to the song and write out the lyrics since everyone else... singer included, were too freakin' lazy to do it... and by the time I'd finished that, I knew the structure of the song inside out. So then it was just a matter of figuring out what the notes were. It was a bit time consuming (I used tapes or vinyl LP's) but it certainly worked... and the interesting thing is that at the time I didn't even realize how much this process was helping me to learn the songs—I begrudgingly did it because I couldn't stand to listen to the singer making up lyrics!
  10. Try to listen to the song, fail and get frustrated, go to tab,get scared by the amount of notes and fills, run, hide.
  11. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    Thanks. I already made my correction back on page 2.
    seang15 likes this.
  12. Where's the carrots?
  13. I do not read so I trust my ears and memory.
    When I want to learn a song I learn the bass part 'vocally'.
    When I can 'sing' the part, it makes it easier to transpose to my fingers.
    I usually break the song up into sections.
  14. jwilson67


    Jun 2, 2015
    San Dimas, CA
    If it's a song I'm totally unfamiliar with I usually listen to it all day at work and when I get home run through it a few times and done. If I'm singing it also I'll memorize the lyrics and then put the two together after making sure I have the bass part down.
  15. stevecaronna

    stevecaronna Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    St Rose Louisiana
    I either make a cd or download the songs to ipod and listen to them in my truck to and from work. After a few days they are getting embedded into my brain then I go into the music room and put them together. I have been doing this for many years and since I don't read charts or tabs or whatever else is out there this works for me.
  16. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Right there with you. Learning a song that my band isn't writing just has very little payoff for me. I don't have any interest in listening to someone else's song over and over so I can play it perfectly, alone, in my room.
  17. Lowness

    Lowness Banned

    Mar 13, 2015
    Healdsburg, CA

    As if I am going to phaff about doing what someone has already done.
  18. Youtube videos. I just dont have the ear for the notes yet. :(
    Where would one generally go to find out the Key in a song?
  19. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    You can look up tabs for a lot of songs. A lot of them are terrible, but it would give you at least a start, get you in the ballpark.

    In the end there isn't any substitute for hearling the pitch in the song itself, picking up the line. It's a wierd thing though. I consider myself pretty good at copying basslines for my cover band, but I'll hear it one way when I first start listening and then a few days later often hear parts I didn't hear before. How we "hear" is an interesting thing to say the least.

    I don't think there is any substutute for just slogging away at it though.
  20. Thanks Klokker, yeah i have looked up a few tabs and started playing then i am like "er what the hell is this note??"
    It can be discouraging and waste of time. And when you are weekend warrior bassist like me -time is everything!
    I am hoping my ear develops some fine chromatic day. :)

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