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What do you do to learn songs ?

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  • What do you do to learn songs ?

    What do you do to learn new songs? to play live or etc
    Guess what? ! I have a Fever and the prescription is more cowbell !


    Moog Modular,B3 leslie,gran piano, GX1

  • #2
    Practice, practice, practice...

    Learn the music first., then the words but if I don't keep playing them I forget them. sucks to get old..
    The further away I am, the better I sound....

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    • #3
      For me - it's essentially a four stage process.



      First - there's the dissection phase. This is time spent taking the original tune apart to understand the chord structure, format and lyrics of the original.



      The second phase is the documentation phase. I write out a simple chart for the tune. Even the simple stuff gets written out in one manner or another. The act of writing it down is a crucial memory tool for me. Being able to "see" the chart helps me when it comes to committing format / chord structure to memory - and visualizing it in my head when I play it later.



      Once I've got the chord structure and format down - it's onto what I think of as the "design" phase. I go though and work out how I am going to play the tune - my choices about what parts from the original need to be covered (i.e. right hand piano part, left hand strings, etc.), my chord voicings, my rhythm patterns, my choices in terms of sound (patch) selection, etc.



      Once I've pretty much figured that out - it's simply the task of getting it to the point that I can play my design from end to end - smoothly, in time, with authority and on demand. Over the years, I've come to recognize that the on demand thing is important. I realized that in my practice regime - I played the **************** out of most stuff - the 2nd time I played it as any sitting ... the 1st time, not so much. I've since taken to constantly jumping around between tunes when I'm learning them - so that I'm constantly challenging myself to play the tune right when I come at it cold.



      This four step process may sound like overkill to some ... in reality, a simple tune might run through the 4 phases of the learning cycle in just a few minutes. More complex tunes obviously may take a little longer ... but it's the framework for how I approach all tunes.
      The SpaceNorman

      www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
      www.souldoutrocks.com

      Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
      Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
      Stage Amplification: Stereo via 2 Yamaha DSR112s

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      • #4
        Open up Real Book, fiddle with melody, memorize changes; profit.
        Studio: Alchemy - Yamaha Mox6 - Roland Gaia - Plugiator - GSI Burn - VB3
        Live:
        Samson Graphite controller - SM Pro V-Machine - Mackie SRM 450 v3

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        • #5
          1. listen through song, stopping starting, figuring out which keys to press to sound the same (I can't read, write, or really play music from notation)

          2. make a CD of MP3s to play in car to pound it into my head every day during commute or other trips

          3. if singing, write out all lyrics - that's my way to see and cement lyrics if I have hand written them out, then practice every night with the song, and lately entertaining the idea of using a tablet/pad for scrolling lyrics

          Comment


          • #6






            Quote Originally Posted by SpaceNorman
            View Post

            This four step process may sound like overkill to some ... in reality, a simple tune might run through the 4 phases of the learning cycle in just a few minutes. More complex tunes obviously may take a little longer ... but it's the framework for how I approach all tunes.




            I'd say it's a very good approach. I especially identify with the part where you talk about how you intend to play the piece -- the design phase. And you're right. Being able to play it on demand and with authority takes time, and work. It's important to be able to slip quickly into the groove (in the 'well-worn' sense) for each piece. I've seen live players fail to get that frame of mind and have to abandon a tune after several false starts. It's painful to watch. Building up a repertoire of pieces that you can play with unselfconscious ease is the mark of a seasoned player.



            For me, the approach varies depending on the type of music I'm figuring out. If it's a classical piece, then original sheet music will tend to be a spot-on reference that combines well with studying recorded works.



            But popular music is a whole other matter. I've known both gigging professionals and skilled amateurs who trusted sheet music as a final authority, and almost without exception they ended up with something that was easy to learn but completely out of touch with the recorded original that people want to hear. I've seen some pretty horrendous sheet music versions of pop, rock, and soul with just awful rhythm and chord arrangements, a different key, and even incorrectly notated melody (?!?!), that made it barely recognizable. For comic illustration, imagine a Motown tune written in some folksy piano style a la Stephen Foster.



            In the long run, you get it by listening, and you get better at listening by listening some more. It's an art in itself -- being able to decipher a piece of music by reverse engineering it with your own ears. It's a strength of mine, and it didn't come easily. I've known many musicians (especially classically trained) who found it too daunting to even try to learn a piece this way since they had become entirely dependent on sheet music. I sort of feel fortunate that I grew up learning to play my favorite songs by just listening to the radio and my 8 track player and phonograph. Later, when cassette players allowed you to RECORD your favorite music off of the radio, I was in heaven.



            Nowadays, they even have MP3 software that will slow down the playback without changing the pitch, making it a lot easier to figure out fast and complex arrangements.



            But in any case, my advice to anyone is to learn how to listen. Become good at figuring things out with your own ears. It'll take you far.
            Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

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            • #7
              Listen to death. Learn/play from memory. Play to the recorded version to fix things I've missed or have wrong.
              If I listed all of my gear here my wife may see it and start asking questions.

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              • #8






                Quote Originally Posted by zoink
                View Post

                I've known both gigging professionals and skilled amateurs who trusted sheet music as a final authority...




                Yeah, I've run into a couple of those folks too. I've never understood it - my experience has been that most "commerically available" sheet music is way off - structure, rhythm, chords - hell usually even the key is different than the original recordings. Chord charts gleaned from the readily available guitar tab sites is a crap shoot as well. Filled with missing chords (yeah, I realize that an oxymoron - but you know what I mean) as well as lots and lots of what I call "guitar player" chords (partial chords that don't convey the song's REAL chord structure ... i.e., an Em chord - when the real chord is in fact a Cmaj7 once you factor in what the bass player is doing). Using sheet music to help you get started when you're first learning a new song if fine - but ultimately, you've got to use your ears to truly piece songs with any degree of complexity together.









                Quote Originally Posted by zoink
                View Post

                In the long run, you get it by listening, and you get better at listening by listening some more. It's an art in itself -- being able to decipher a piece of music by reverse engineering it with your own ears.




                Agreed - learning to listen with a purpose is at the crux of being able to learn any new tune (especially for a cover band player).
                The SpaceNorman

                www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
                www.souldoutrocks.com

                Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
                Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
                Stage Amplification: Stereo via 2 Yamaha DSR112s

                Comment


                • #9






                  Quote Originally Posted by wwwjd
                  View Post

                  Make a CD of MP3s to play in car to pound it into my head every day during commute or other trips.




                  My experience with this approach is that even after listening to a song a million times - all I come away with is a passive familiarity with the song (i.e., I can follow the changes, the format ... but not necessary take a blank space and recreate the entire song from scratch). The other drawback that I run into with this approach is that I become subconsciously dependent on having the musicians around me play their parts exactly like the original so that all the little nuances present in the original that setup changes, etc. are there. Let somebody play their part a hair different than the original - and it throws me off (if this is the approach that I use when learning a tune).



                  For me, it's critical that my learning process move me beyond having passive familiarity with the tune while the original is playing - and to the point that I have an active ability to play the tune - i.e, play my parts, front to back, in time, and with authority - without any aids (i.e., playing along with the original, playing with a band recording, etc.)
                  The SpaceNorman

                  www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
                  www.souldoutrocks.com

                  Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
                  Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
                  Stage Amplification: Stereo via 2 Yamaha DSR112s

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    sheet music son



                    if that's not available for one reason or another I'll play it by ear, might record it on my phone or something at practice. afterwards I'll write the parts out and make notes like normwar



                    it's always important IMO to have a written copy of the music for future reference

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sitting in front of my boards with paper, pencil, and an iPod or CD, then doing pretty much what SpaceNorman outlined above with his four-step process. Especially the bit about charting the song, as that goes a long way towards cementing the song structure into long term memory. And since I play in a few tribute acts, the sound itself is as important as the notes played, so step five is often sound design and tweaking to imitate the original recording.



                      Repeated listening, as was mentioned by wwjd, is helpful too, but only after you've actually learned the basics of the song properly.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To be honest, I only use the Real Book for the changes. I pretty much always do the melody by ear. If I get ambitious, or the song isn't in the Real Book, I'll learn the changes by ear. Since I pretty much only play jazz, the only time I'll ever learn something note for note is when I'm trying to cop or attempt to figure out someones technique.
                        Studio: Alchemy - Yamaha Mox6 - Roland Gaia - Plugiator - GSI Burn - VB3
                        Live:
                        Samson Graphite controller - SM Pro V-Machine - Mackie SRM 450 v3

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          By ear, basically. Listen to it. Play along with it. If there are some tricky chord changes, usually I'll start by figuring out what the bass note is. Play along with it. Compare what I have to some charts on-line. Usually laugh at how wrong they are. . . guitarist. . . then U-tube search it. Play along with it. . . All along the way I'm setting up patches, figuring out where each part might go on my keyboard. . . Is there a strings part, a horns part. . . .



                          If it's a heavily produced arrangement with many parts, I'll usually make a list of all of the sounds I need on a scratch pad: Horns, Piano, Strings, Weird Synth Pad Sound. . . like that, then figure out each part, and what patch I'm going to use, and where it should be on the keyboard. I have some fairly complicated setups. And I'm rehearsing all of the parts over and over again as I'm testing out patches and where they might go and how they might be controlled.



                          SpaceNorman is pretty much all over it. . . I just don't write the chords down usually. And I kinda do all of his steps at the same time.
                          Check my band: SoulPlay - > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TH9-e4FmaE
                          Key Rig: Alesis Fusion 8HD; Roland A-800 Pro; Toshiba i7 laptop running Cantabile VST host with IK Multimedia Total Workstation Bundle, NI Vintage Organs, Tyrell N6, Sylenth1, Imperfect Samples Walnut Concert Grand, NI FM8; Tascam US-1641 USB MIDI/Audio Interface; 2 x RCF Art 310-A MK III series monitors.

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                          • #14
                            SpaceNorman pretty much hit my method. Of course a lot depends on how complicated the music is. Whether or not I've heard the music before makes a big difference too--if it's some tune I've heard a million times over the years I may "trust the subconscience" and skip doing any kind of chart.



                            Since I pretty much only play rock stuff my typical process might go:

                            - google "<song name> chords", which 99% of the time brings me to Ultimate Guitar

                            - make sure the key of the song (UG has a handy transpose feature)

                            - copy the lyrics/chords into a Google document, edit and reformat to my liking, rename and categorize. (While I've given up on having an entire band use Google docs--there's always at least one neanderthal ;-)--it's awesome for me to be able to pull them up from any computer or my phone). This document I call a "chart", and has chords over the lyrics and any notes ( eg "2 bars intro, 1 bar drums only") that will help during confusing parts. Just making this chart helps me learn the tune even if I don't refer to it later.

                            - find (the correct version of) the song on youtube and listen through to it making sure my "chart" is correct, making notes etc.

                            - finally I'll start actually playing the song and working out my parts.



                            A big part (to me) of being able to play a song is getting it into my head by listening. Basically I've got to get it to "lizard hindbrain" status so I'm not thinking about it



                            Edit: I also maintain one document (spreadsheet) that has the songs with their key and whatever patches I'm going to use on various keyboards. This I print and bring to practice/gigs in case my memory fails me, which seems to happen more often than before (?)

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                            • #15
                              Sheet music or by ear. Preferably both.

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