Questions! Learning... Developing..

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by makethemost, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. makethemost

    makethemost Member

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    Hello there. The time has come to ask for more advice. I'm going to be referring to this video a bit:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeRaUjTBuv0

    Okay. So... I have a few questions. How would I go about learning something like that without tabs? It's not a lack of skill problem that I'm having (that might be a teensy part of it), but maybe a lack of self esteem. I'll listen to something like that song up there, and even if it's not my favorite song, that expressiveness is something I am for. So I think to myself... "I want to learn how he did that."

    So how it's been so far is that if there is no tabs for it, I'm probably not learning it (unless it's something a tab more simple, chords and whatnot). Also, if I have a clear view of their hands (I'm not talking three feet away or anything), I can figure out the big picture and fill in the nuances. But purely by ear? I'm frightened.

    So how do you do it? Am I just "not good enough" yet? Like I said, maybe it's more of a self esteem issue rather than a skill issue. I know someone can help. There's some zen wisdom on the internet (just a tad!).

    Plenty of love to all of you. Have a good day.

    -chris
     
  2. stevel

    stevel Member

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    By ear.

    Then you need to do what he did. What you're most likely lacking is experience.


    I bet JM didn't limit himself in that way. Why don't you investigate other ways of learning music - reading, by ear, etc.

    Why? It won't bite you. The more you do it the better you get at it, and the more experience you gain, the more confident you'll become. Additionally, as you gain experience, you will start to notice certain licks and patterns so you'll be able to do whole riffs at a time, rather than just single notes.


    Well, I don't know how good you are. But again, I'm going to say, are you experienced enough?

    Here's my opinion - I've met guys who can take a tab and play a song note for note. But they can't play any other song. If they learn ten songs, they know ten songs. But what they've been unable to accomplish is to take what they learned from each of the 10 songs and apply that to other songs - they lack the ability to improvise - because learning by tab necessarily limits one. It becomes (or can become) a crutch, and becomes "paint by numbers" way of making music. JM is not "painting by numbers". He might not be as ground-breaking Picasso, but he's certainly as interesting and as competent as Rembrandt.

    For what it's worth, if you can't yet improvise over a chord progression like this, then learning the tab to this song, or even learning it by ear isn't going to help you as much as learning to improvise in a manner similar to what's going on here. And I bet JM doesn't play this the same way every night.

    It's kind of like treating the symptoms and not the disease - you need to not learn to play this song, and just learn to play.

    I'm not saying that learning X song won't be informative - it will - but the real breakthrough comes in when you can take what you learn from one song, and be able to apply it to other similar situations.

    In other words, if you aren't ready for this, work on something more accomplishable. Your self-esteem will go up with your accomplishments, and it will get easier and easier for you to work out songs like this by ear.

    HTH,
    Steve
     
  3. dsqu4r3d

    dsqu4r3d Member

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    The way I usually try to figure out a song without tabs is by figuring out what key the song is in, figuring the chords by figuring out what the bass is doing and listening to the chords, then if you know your major scales then you can figure out what hes doing solo wise. But thats what I do if I cant see the dude playing guitar, if I can see him play than its easier, a lot easier.
     
  4. makethemost

    makethemost Member

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    Okay then. I suppose that's what my central question is. Sorry if it wasn't clear, but I'm not trying to cop that night's solo completely. I'm trying to accomplish what you're describing. Soloing in a manner that's similar to what's going on, over that chord progression (or others).

    I've already figured out bits and pieces of it, but what that is is me figuring out.. you know, positions on the fret board. Then if you asked me, okay, play something else, the auditory response would be TOO similar to what I learned. Also, I'm not saying, "How do I learn to be creative?" I'm just asking for advice about how to get ON to the path towards creativity.

    I know my writing is a bit convoluted, I'm tired, but do you understand what I mean?
     
  5. bleomonkey

    bleomonkey Member

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    If you know what certain players tend to rely on, the task isn't nearly as overwhelming. It's amazing how we often think a certain lick is real complex and amazing when it turns out it was just the pentatonic scale or something.
     
  6. JonR

    JonR Member

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    It sounds like you don't have enough knowledge of the scale-chord associations - which include various alternative note options to those chosen at any one time.
    Eg, when transcribing a solo - and I can see it's scary to contemplate the whole thing, but you only need to zero in on the most interesting bits - you need to identify not only the backing chords and the notes he's using, but what scale-set those notes might come from.

    Generally speaking (simplifying it as much as possible) what most players do is work between the key scale and each chord.
    So you have an overall context (say the A major scale), and individual chords (say D). The D triad offers you D, F# and A as a foundation, between which the other scale notes (E, G#, B, C#) can fit in passing, or - if sustained - as chord extensions.
    You also have the option (if that lot is not interesting enough!) of the other 5 chromatic notes (Eb, F, G, Bb, C), which also work in passing between diatonic notes, or as half-step approach notes to chord tones.

    Furthermore, certain styles - such as blues! - will require focussing on particular collections of notes. So in an A blues, you might begin with the A blues scale as your overall note set (A C D Eb E G).
    Your D chord then works with and against those. So this time C, G and Eb are much less "chromatic" (outside-sounding) than in a diatonic A major context. Although they don't fit the chord exactly, they will sound OK in an A blues context.

    OK, so this is all raw material! The CREATIVITY is another thing: WHY you might choose one note or phrase over another. What makes a note or phrase "good".

    Transcribing solos (or copying by ear as close as you can) gives you some ideas. OK, they're someone else's ideas to begin with ;) - but the idea is to look beneath and see how they're built. You can steal them wholesale if you want (add them to your lick library), but you can - and should - also edit them in any way you like: what happens if you leave a note or 2 out? What happens if you change the rhythm, or start the phrase on a different beat? or play it over a different chord? (if it sounds wrong on another chord, how little do you need to change it to make it fit?)

    IOW, an "original" approach comes from stealing a lot of stuff and messing around with it - taking it apart, looking at how (and when, where and why) it works.
    So, phrase (a) (that you copied from a video) sounds cool - but why? It's not only down to the sequence of notes. It's down to: the chord they're being used over; the dynamic variation (maybe); the tone or articulation (the way they are played); any effects used; etc.

    Analyse, then synthesize. That's the artistic creative process. It's not pure invention out of nothing.;)
     
  7. Elektrik_SIxx

    Elektrik_SIxx Member

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    I guess a good way to get on to that path, which is what I'm working on myself, is to limit your choices. Stick to three notes, or one string, or one motif and see what you can do with it within a chord progression or a vamp.
     
  8. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    You know, there was life before TAB....

    Just go for it. What do you have to lose? Even if you get it wrong, you can come up with something useful. I read somewhere that Al Dimeola claimed he developed his monster right-hand flatpicking chops because he learned a lot of Doc Watson when he was a teenager and no idea it was fingerpicked and not flatpicked.

    Trust me, I came up with a lot of cool things by figuring things out wrong ;)
     
  9. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Once upon a time, I thought I'd never become a lead guitarist, and now I'm the "in-house" lead guitarist of our band (we have guitarist friends who, though not official band members, are interested in guesting with us). I didn't even play guitar before I got into college.

    This being the Technique forum, there are a lot of people who came here for the same reason you did, because they too had the same question in their minds that you have: "How do I become a good lead guitarist?" That is a HUGE question. I felt overwhelmed at the thought of it too when I took up guitar. You are not alone in this. Just take it one step at a time, try to learn at least one new thing every day, and ask questions. Having a good teacher helps too.

    As for the video in question, Tomo here had John Mayer as a student, so you can ask him too.
     
  10. Tomo

    Tomo Member

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    Hi Chris,

    If you need to see visual things... maybe you are expecting things to happen too fast?

    Many tabs, many info around guitar... too much sometime. This is real problem... tabs makes you feel satisfy very fast (seems), but makes you to stay same place for longest time.

    So maybe it's great chance for you to study your guitar playing. Maybe you need to learn every notes... singing... do re me.. (C scale) on each string... or... Triads. (Rt M3 5/ M3 5 Rt/ 5 Rt M3) ... whatever you need..

    And please listen to B.B. King. "Blues is King" and "Live at the Regal" just
    listen to these cds for 3 months. (nothing else!!!! )

    Put the blues into your body. Hope something wants to come out from you!
    It's time to work!

    Enjoy it!

    Tomo
     
  11. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Ah, Tomo-san found this thread. Like I said, he was Mayer's teacher. Save and studty any posts he adds to this thread, for obvious reasons.
     
  12. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    Hi Chris,

    I agree about the "Listen to Tomo" advice with the emphasis on his advice "It's time to work!" You have to play A LOT to make any good progress, usually over years.

    I'll also add stevel, JonR and KRosser to that list. These guys always offer really good advice around here. Read their posts very carefully, noting the contrast in approach and working out how their advice relates to each others.

    I will say that if you are within the first year of playing, learning anything from ear can be rather difficult unless you are naturally good at music - not just the guitar. But this self esteem business in regard to learning a song??? I don't get that at all... Who cares if you make mistakes? Go for it man!!!

    Read JonR's post above a few times. If you don't understand anything that he has said, ASK! Knowing the scale/chord relationship and how scales work on the guitar is really important because there are certain ways that most guitarists play things. If you know this then things can get easier. As your ears develop, you can tell where on the neck a note is played and on which string - as you may be aware, you can and are encouraged to play the same melodic ideas (phrases) in more than one place on the guitar neck and in as many keys as possible.

    Gravity might be a tricky place to start due to the inner voice movements within the chords. Once you see how they work though, it will really make sense and you will notice that those licks are quite common in music. Try to recognise this. Also note that you see JM hangin' his thumb over the top of the neck. He is fretting the bass notes of his chords this way.

    How about you try to play these tunes on your guitar by ear, across the fretboard and up and down on a single string: Star Stangled Banner (I assume you're from the States...), Jingle Bells, Silent Night, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, heck even the melody from Gravity! ANYTHING! Don't bother listening to recordings, just play them off the top of your head.

    It's time to work mate. You owe it to yourself and to your guitar.

    Best of luck,
    Sadhaka.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009
  13. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    Sorry to abbreviate your post!

    Listen, ask, reflect,
    Play, play, play,
    Copy, internalise, develop,
    Play, play, play,
    Be determined, make mistakes, correct them,
    Play, play, play,
    Be inspired, dedicated, passionate,
    Play, play, play,
    Respect the music, live the music, LOVE what you do
    But above all else -

    Play, play, play.

    :AOK Sadhaka.
     
  14. makethemost

    makethemost Member

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    Excellent advice from all. At the risk of sounding cocky, I'm not BAD. I know that. I understand a good bit of music theory, I'm not a bad player or a bad musician. I'm just finding my way, as I'm sure all of you did too. I'm only sixteen, so I'm not running out of time any time fast. If I have any more questions, I know where to ask if I want a bit of someone's experience.


    Thanks again. You too Tomo!

    Edit: I'd also like to add that I've been playing for a few years. It's hard to outright state how "good" you are over the internet. I think I may have led some of you to believe I'm a beginner, but that's not so true. Intermediate maybe? Whatever that means.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
  15. Tomo

    Tomo Member

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    You're welcome! You are very lucky to hear everyone's great tips! Each voice is great idea for you and everyone.

    Do you have B.B. King "Blues is King" "Live at the Regal" Listen to these a lot!
    Put music into you first...

    Tomo
     

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