Learning songs, what are your tricks and tips?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by cometazzi, May 9, 2021.

  1. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Don't tell the moderators, but I'm mostly a hard rock and metal guy who doesn't even own a telecaster. Meanwhile, I'm mellowing out in my old age and I'm listening to more old country and psychobilly type stuff. When I approach metal stuff I hear it and I can just play it, but sometimes the old blues, country, and even surf stuff just seems like a different guitar language to me. Is it ear training? I don't know. But I listen to some of these double-stops and pentatonic runs and it takes me awhile to figure them out. Most of the the stuff I like doesn't have so many tabs online, so I feel like I'm mostly in the dark. It should be easy, but for me it's not!

    What strategies do you guys use to learn material that's a bit outside of your wheelhouse?

    I bring this as an offering:

     
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  2. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    David Hamburger’s YouTube channel, Fretboard Confidential, has very short, coherent lessons, rooted in acoustic blues, which provide a great base for working into swing and country picking.
     
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  3. dented

    dented Doctor of Teleocity

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    I bought one of these years ago. You can use CDs or Audio files through the port. You can take sections of songs and loop them and slow them down without destroying the pitch. Still use it after 7 years.

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    here's maybe the most important thing, from my perspective

    the more stuff you learn, the more it all connects to each other, and the easier stuff gets to learn. In that sense, it's a very very good thing to learn outside your normal wheelhouse

    Your brain/fingers start to go "ohhh! this is very like that other thing I learned awhile back, with these slight differences!"
     
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  5. green_henry

    green_henry Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    SCOTS! Good choice; that was one of my favorite albums when it came out. I lean heavily on tabs and youtube guitar lessons that cover specific songs.
     
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  6. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    The #1 thing for me is to chart out the chord changes (if any more complicated than a few chords, at least). Then the lead lines start to make some sense (usually, in terms of scales, chord fragments, important notes etc.), and it gives a framework for remembering when different phrases start. Within a genre or for a given player there are often recurring ways the solos or other lines are are constructed, so it may take learning a few songs before things get easier.
     
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  7. ndcaster

    ndcaster Doctor of Teleocity

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    songs here in the west?

    count bars and sections (most western music is a multiple of 4)
    make chart
    learn intro and outro
    learn signature parts
    learn lyrics
    learn solo, if any

    in that order

    a totally not western music?

    I tried learning some Turkish classical music because this buddy of mine was into fado and then kept going East

    I did the same thing: figure out structures first, then vocabulary (but I gave up, moved on)

    otherwise it will always feel like a maze
     
  8. stxrus

    stxrus Poster Extraordinaire

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    I listen to the tune. Figure out the progression first. That’s the easy part. If there are signature parts I work on them be it a riff or part of the solo. The rest I just wing it
    I very seldom learn a tune note for note. I like to try to make it my own.
     
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  9. green_henry

    green_henry Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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  10. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    The Skids is a pretty great offering!

    I have been trying to learn some western stuff on my bari, way out of my comfort zone as a player. I play a measure or 2 at a time and repeat. Then when I get enough to string together a verse I do that. One bite at a time.
     
  11. Lies&Distortion

    Lies&Distortion Tele-Afflicted

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    I have been hearing their new stuff on the radio lately, sounds good.
     
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  12. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Totally. Like it finally dawned on me a ton of Ratt, Def Lep and GNR, especially the rhythm/fills is . . . country with distortion. Awesome.

    Kinda takes the wind outta the whole “I only practice clean: makes me a real man” trope. Learning to play the distortion is a separate bag-o-tricks and gives a totally different sound, feel and impact to the same ‘ole stuff.

    IMO.
     
  13. modavis99

    modavis99 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Load mp3 into audacity (freeware) then slow down tempo by 30 percent without altering the pitch.
     
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  14. brokenbones

    brokenbones Tele-Holic

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    I use Transcribe! software. It's $40USD and worth every red cent.
     
  15. 1955

    1955 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Repetition for me.

    One time I learned a Queen song by cleaning an air conditioner out in the bathtub while the song played over and over.

    I learned “Catman” by Gene Vincent at a NC beach when I still had a flip phone by listening to it all night as I slept.

    I detested learning songs I was not fond of, and consequently my brain could not do it. If I had to do a song that I didn’t like for the sake of the other musicians in the band, I’d make a cheat sheet to put on the wedge or stage floor because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. Meanwhile, I had learned hundreds of songs effortlessly that I grew up listening to.

    It was almost like hell, listening to some songs over and over. I’ll never do that again.

    But if anyone wanted to hear a track off Songs From A Room, I was your man. Of course they didn’t, and now I’ve forgotten those, too.
     
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  16. tfarny

    tfarny Poster Extraordinaire

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    Learning them? Just call up one of the free tabs and the tune and run thought it. Then listen more carefully to confirm the chords are right. Then pick apart major riffs / intros by ear. Then adjust to taste. I imagine it's the same process for any genre of music.
    Are you defaulting to a blues / minor scale or pentatonic scale? For country go for a regular major scale approach until your ears tell you differently. Which really just means move all your moves down 3 frets, so if a song is in C, play the A pentatonic over it and see if that gets you started. Apologies if that's too basic for you, people here are at all levels of understanding.
     
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  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Rick Miller's style is a low-country boil (stew) of Chuck Berry, Link Wray, Tony Joe White, and John Fogerty. He has quite possibly the best rhythm sensibility and chops of any guitarist today. He is smoooooth, and he can really rip it up too.

    I have never used TAB or stuff from the Web.

    Learning a song from a recording is a process that goes like this for me: I determine the key and then work out the chords. I play along with the tune several times to get the feel of the thing, and then I make up a chart with lyrics. These I do get from the Web, becasue it's a simple matter of copy and paste.

    I stick the chord names over the lyrics and build the song structure into the chart, e.g.,

    Intro
    Verse1
    Verse2
    Chorus
    Break
    Chorus
    Verse3
    Chorus
    Outro

    Lastly I work out the signature riffs and licks just to lock them down. I learn them note-for note to start, and then allow myself some leeway to fit my playing style into the tune. Some breaks require a note-for-note rendition because the leads are a huge part of the song. Examples of that are the little melodies in Gilmour's lead work in Pink Floyd.

    This method has had the added benefit of improving my abilities to play with others (jams, etc.) because it has helped develop my ears and I can usually quickly get a sense of what's going on without needing a chart in front of me. I can hear keys and chords right off. I'm still no expert at it, but I am a whole lot further along than I'd be if I just relied on TAB to give me the information.

    A huge slice of the chords/TABs available on the Web are incorrect anyway.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2021
  18. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yep. My theory is that TAB is written primarily by people who think songs are made of scales abs modes. Rather than chords.

    This. They are usually wrong. Or even if the chords and notes are “correct” they are way harder to play than if the TAB’r knew his triads . . .
     
  19. JL_LI

    JL_LI Poster Extraordinaire

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    After I've decided on a song, I download the chords and lyrics. I'm astonished how much of what I download is wrong, but at least it's a starting point. I play alone, so trying to sound like the original is pointless. That's both good and bad. I find a key that fits my vocal range that lets me at least start out using first position chords where I can take advantage of open strings.

    I go through the song a few times to find my groove. I'll usually settle into a finger style. The real work begins when I can play it. I find the chord inversions and substitutions I need and quickly learn a verse. I work out an intro. It's rarely the one used in the original but it may be derivative. I rarely use a single finger style in any song. I'll use some combination of arpeggios, stops, thumb strums, two or three finger picking styles so that the guitar accompaniment to the vocal flows. Then I learn the chorus and bridge if there is one and find a way to transition between them smoothly.

    I now know enough to start to construct a solo. I'm amazed at how a solo can be easy to play but very difficult to transition into. That needs focus when it's the case. Once I have at least the start of a good solo, I can begin to assemble the pieces. At this point it begins to sound like a real song. Maybe not a performance piece yet, but a song. It's time to learn all the words to all the verses, the chorus, and bridge. Learning lyrics is difficult for me. I can't let myself get discouraged. As I play through the intro, verses, chorus, bridge, and solo I think of ways to end the song. I've used two chord endings, jazz runs, series of inversions up the neck, fades, whatever it takes.

    It's still not finished though. I sometimes like to quote something I played in the intro or a verse later or maybe quote from the solo in the outro. I may play off scale passing notes in the finger style to add harmonic complexity or redo a solo in a blues pentatonic number in the Dorian mode. It's still not finished. In fact, the song is never finished if it's a keeper. I've lost interest in songs after working on them for months and kept reworking others for years. One thing I like about music is that it's dynamic. It really does keep changing over time. Something that always bothered me about scholarly publications is that once a paper is accepted for publication, it becomes fixed in time. You can't go back and revise it based on new data or ideas. You can only correct yourself or expand on an idea in your next paper. In music, at least popular as opposed to classical music, you can just play the revised version next time and a new revision after that.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
  20. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Dudes. Go to You Tube. Look up "song title" "guitar lesson". Some "lessons" are better than others, but many times they have figured it out for you. Huge time-saver.

    If it's not on YT, than do all the stuff other people have suggested.
     
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