The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary

View Poll Results: Do you learn new songs by ear or by paper?

Voters
32. You may not vote on this poll
  • By ear

    4 12.50%
  • By paper

    5 15.63%
  • Both

    23 71.88%
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  1. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    Adding "both" as an option is the copout way of implying the binary question was bogus from the start.

    .
    It was bogus from the start. I didn't "add" 'both', the 3rd choice was there from the start. It's a valid 3rd option and therefore the poll is not, and never was, binary. But that's ok, if it offends your sensibilities you don't have to participate. You are akin to a grammar nazi.

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  3. #27

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    Both. I can read chord charts but am pretty bad at reading notation for guitar. I can write music faster than I can read it.
    I have a good ear so learning melodies is no problem. If it’s too complex to remember I’ll write it out, which seems to help with the memorization process.

  4. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9
    It was bogus from the start. I didn't "add" 'both', the 3rd choice was there from the start. It's a valid 3rd option and therefore the poll is not, and never was, binary. But that's ok, if it offends your sensibilities you don't have to participate. You are akin to a grammar nazi.
    Thanks for reminding me why I avoided replying to any of your post.

    Continue arguing with yourself. That way you can ensure you win!

    (because you have so many false assumptions and knee jerk reactions, that I can't stop laughing!).

    PS: adding "both" isn't logical when the only logical answer is "both", because the binary paradigm set up by the question was bogus from the get-go. I.e. option 1 or 2 were never valid responses. Only "both" was.

  5. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Something that I should add-- early on in the process of learning a tune, I physically write out a chart for it-- usually just a box grid with chord names. It helps me internalize the form.
    Very interesting I do those sketches too... but I do it in non-systematic and not quite in conventional way - using my own signs and all.

    As you truely said, it helps to internalize the form and I usually put down just some most important points of the form.
    Somehow visual draft helps to grasp overall picture - just like with real painting - you see it all.

    Also songs in my own notebook becomes more like 'my own'

  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    (because you have so many false assumptions...)

    PS: adding "both" isn't logical when the only logical answer is "both", because the binary paradigm set up by the question was bogus from the get-go. I.e. option 1 or 2 were never valid responses. Only "both" was.
    Check your own false assumptions
    Option 1 (by ear) is valid for myself
    Yes, 100% by ear always & forever
    Can't speak for Option 2 (by paper)

  7. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKong
    1. Listen to a few versions of the tune to get hang of the melody.

    2. Learn melody from tab.

    3. Learn chords from internet print out.

    4. Work out solo approach.

    5. Jam with you tube backing tracks
    Somehow I avoid clearly put schemes which look too obviously logical.
    They look positive but at the same time - at least for me - do not lead anywhere.

    Not that anything you write is wrong.. on the contrary it is absolutely correct.

    Please, do not take it as a call for an argument or an agressive statement.

    It is more like I doubt what I am doing... food for thought.

    You know it is like: to seize a fortress you need that quantity of soldiers, then artillery, then this and that... and all looks fine, obviously you need, everyone confirms.
    But the soldiers got sick, powder is wet, food supply broken... and at the end of it all it comes all to what you can do on the spot.

    With years I came to the point that the strategy is a myth (kiddding... or not?) and together with tacticts it is just doubled myth)))

    Most succesful people I know (do they really exist?) are just smart daring and ... lucky guys)

  8. #32

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    We have not fully considered the possibilities of learning by YouTube. Perhaps we could do that, to distract the squabblers.

    I don't learn songs, but I would imagine many young guitarists search for a song and find an instruction video on YouTube, then do everything they are told to do. Is this a good thing? I don't know.

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    Check your own false assumptions
    Option 1 (by ear) is valid for myself
    Yes, 100% by ear always & forever
    Can't speak for Option 2 (by paper)
    So you're saying that you just listen to a song, come up with the chord progression, 100% by ear, transfer this chord progression to memory (i.e. don't jot down a quick lead-sheet of the chords). Hey, if you're good enough to do that to non-blues based jazz standards, my hat is off to you. (because I assumed learning new-songs meant jazz standards and not basic pop or rock\blues tunes which any average musician should be able to play 100% by ear).

    I do that for the melody, but I can't do that with chord progression expect for blues turns and really basic (say 3 \ 4 chords) jazz standards.

    If I wish to learn a new jazz standard I look at a lead sheet to get the "basic" chords, and then play a progression by-ear using the lead sheet as just a general guide to help with key changes and other aspects of the basic progression.

  10. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    We have not fully considered the possibilities of learning by YouTube. Perhaps we could do that, to distract the squabblers.

    I don't learn songs, but I would imagine many young guitarists search for a song and find an instruction video on YouTube, then do everything they are told to do. Is this a good thing? I don't know.
    Ah yes... YouTube. I forgot about that. Basically having someone show you how to play it, like a lesson. Good point. I do quite alot of that actually... I should have put that in the poll. I probably do more of that that anything else. Learning by ear/visual... I guess it's similar to learning from transcription, just a much better visual.

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    So you're saying that you just listen to a song, come up with the chord progression, 100% by ear...
    Yes.
    My own personal false assumption used to be that most
    all others used that same direct process by ear as mine.

  12. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    So you're saying that you just listen to a song, come up with the chord progression, 100% by ear, transfer this chord progression to memory (i.e. don't jot down a quick lead-sheet of the chords). Hey, if you're good enough to do that to non-blues based jazz standards, my hat is off to you. (because I assumed learning new-songs meant jazz standards and not basic pop or rock\blues tunes which any average musician should be able to play 100% by ear).

    I do that for the melody, but I can't do that with chord progression expect for blues turns and really basic (say 3 \ 4 chords) jazz standards.

    If I wish to learn a new jazz standard I look at a lead sheet to get the "basic" chords, and then play a progression by-ear using the lead sheet as just a general guide to help with key changes and other aspects of the basic progression.
    once you’ve learned a couple of hundred standards, there’s not so many common moves really. It’s like learning to hear words.

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    Yes.
    My own personal false assumption used to be that most
    all others used that same direct process by ear as mine.
    I clearly underestimated the ability of highly competent jazz musicians. Thanks for keeping me straight.

  14. #38

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    I learned Run Rudolph Run by listening to it in the car as it came on the radio yesterday morning. No instrument needed. I assume most on here can do the same with that tune.

    I'm also learning a tune that somebody is paying me to transcribe. I don't even know the name of it but it's nice.

    For myself I'm transcribing Tim Lerch's version of Send in the Clowns.

    It's all by ear atm but I have no problem of opening up the Real Book or a classical book if the need arises.

    Therefore I clicked 'both'.

  15. #39

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    In the old days, if I wanted to really know a song, I used to listen to as many versions of the song as I could, repeatedly, sometimes for weeks, until I could hear the melody and chords in my head, this was before I even tried to play the song.

    I think I got a better feeling for the song by using this method. Then I got lazy.

  16. #40

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    Got a call yesterday to sub on a gig tomorrow. Three sets. 24 tunes on the set list.

    I've subbed in this band before. I know several of the tunes well and I've played some others before with them, but not recently.

    There were 12 that I didn't know. They provided charts for all of them but not mp3. However, the charts included the composers' names and most of them are performers. With one exception the chart was for the composer's version.

    The charts were mostly 2-4 pages. Forms are not AABA.

    So, with limited time and a lot to grasp I instantly threw out the idea of memorizing anything.

    What I've done so far is listen to the recordings while looking at the chart, and making a few very simple notes. Almost all of the notes are about groove. A few are about roadmap, mostly circling a segno in an unexpected place.

    One of the tunes just sounded bizarre. Chart in odd meter and the tune sounding like random noise the first time I heard it. I didn't want to waste a lot of time on one tune when there are so many, so I emailed the leader and suggested that one might be too ambitious. Haven't heard back yet.

    "Learning a tune" isn't the same thing to every person in every situation. For me, the foregoing is, more or less, typical. I usually use the chart and listen to the recording to get the feel. Occasionally, more than one. The stuff I play is rarely something like an AABA 32 bar tune with conventional changes. Even if I can hear all the changes, I wouldn't trust myself to memorize the form (if it's complex).

    And, speaking of hearing changes, I agree with James that the ability to hear a tune with some harmonic complexity -- and be able to figure out the changes without touching an instrument, is not easy, but it's a very desirable skill to have. It's something I work on.

  17. #41

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    I cannot read, so this question is settled :-)

  18. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Got a call yesterday to sub on a gig tomorrow. Three sets. 24 tunes on the set list.

    And, speaking of hearing changes, I agree with James that the ability to hear a tune with some harmonic complexity -- and be able to figure out the changes without touching an instrument, is not easy, but it's a very desirable skill to have. It's something I work on.
    My bogus assumption was based on me being overly practical and the limits of my ability. My ability to figure out the changes for a tune with some harmonic complexity has improved and I can do it (if the tune isn't too complex); E.g. Satin Doll; But that can take hours!

    Thus instead I'll find a lead sheet and convert the changes to roman-numerals, listen to a few versions while following the lead sheet (even if versions don't use the same chords this is useful to me), and then breakout my guitar and build\create a chord progression by-ear that works for me. Put this progression into a looper and take it from there.

  19. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar

    What I've done so far is listen to the recordings while looking at the chart, and making a few very simple notes. Almost all of the notes are about groove. A few are about roadmap, mostly circling a segno in an unexpected place.
    Had to look up "segno", first I thought
    it must be the opposite of segue as in
    seg way -> seg- way/no way -> segno
    Surprised a little that was kind of right!

  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    These days for a standard I’d listen to a few vocal recordings and try and learn the melody so I can sing it. Straight or music theatre versions are incredibly useful actually, not it be sniffed at as well as the more ‘mainstream’ style singers like Mel Torme, Nat Cole and of course, Frank and Ella.
    Christian singing a few Frank and Ella numbers. That would be a great Christmas present. C'mon Christian, a wee video please

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Got a call yesterday to sub on a gig tomorrow...

    One of the tunes just sounded bizarre. Chart in odd meter and the tune sounding like random noise the first time I heard it. I didn't want to waste a lot of time on one tune when there are so many, so I emailed the leader and suggested that one might be too ambitious. Haven't heard back yet.
    I remember sending a similar text and getting the reply 'have faith...' We played the tune at the gig and it sounded great...probably because of the other musicians rather than me, but I was in there!

  22. #46

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    I would say in London it’s quite common to come across very busy professional players who know very few tunes and but sight read practically anything cold. I don’t think they have time to learn music, and rehearsals are considered a bit of luxury (which can be a problem sometimes.)

    But then London’s quite famous for this type of thing (horn sections on ‘80s hits were often recorded in London, Lionel Ritchie etc, as well as most film scores of the era.)

    I don’t think they really learn tunes at all, but if they did they’d learn from charts I expect.

    otoh most of the die hard jazzers get incredibly into learning a big repertoire of jazz standards by ear.

    most NYC jazzers seem to have a vast repertoire of standards as well as extremely respectable reading chops FWIW and they are a few jazzers who are like that here too.

    for me, I figure I need to work on both.

  23. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    We have not fully considered the possibilities of learning by YouTube. Perhaps we could do that, to distract the squabblers.

    I don't learn songs, but I would imagine many young guitarists search for a song and find an instruction video on YouTube, then do everything they are told to do. Is this a good thing? I don't know.
    It’s a good thing, but as we all know you can have too much of a good thing.

    Not everyone has access to a mentor and if you can learn 2 or 3 songs by video THEN apply the knowledge to a lead sheet, you can be on your way.

    Falling into a trap of endless theory videos and commenting “Do you have tabs for this” on things completely out of your skill level will get you nowhere.

  24. #48

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    The context usually decides for me... If I'm on someone gig, I'll read a chart of fake it with my ears.

    I generally think and hear tunes by Form, fill in the blanks. I sometimes hear a tune on way to gig, and try and memorize it in my head and then when I get there ( depending on time),I'll scratch out quick chart and pull up a recording on phone to help with the feel of the style. (fix mistakes) Sometimes not perfect, but generally audiences will hear what they want and after a few times through. I think they enjoy the "LIVE" thing also. We're taking a leap LOL. It's not really that difficult after years of gigs.

    As a kid I transcribed tunes all the time... that's how we did it. In collage I transcribed BB charts for berklee and made side $ making piano music charts for a few publishers, a did copy work for serious composers and grad students and faculty at schools around boston... yea I needed $.

  25. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    I would say in London it’s quite common to come across very busy professional players who know very few tunes and but sight read practically anything cold. I don’t think they have time to learn music, and rehearsals are considered a bit of luxury (which can be a problem sometimes.)

    But then London’s quite famous for this type of thing (horn sections on ‘80s hits were often recorded in London, Lionel Ritchie etc, as well as most film scores of the era.)

    I don’t think they really learn tunes at all, but if they did they’d learn from charts I expect.

    otoh most of the die hard jazzers get incredibly into learning a big repertoire of jazz standards by ear.

    most NYC jazzers seem to have a vast repertoire of standards as well as extremely respectable reading chops FWIW and they are a few jazzers who are like that here too.

    for me, I figure I need to work on both.
    Reading jazz chart (not arrangement but chords and melody) to me is built around convention.
    If I am in the context of language I should be able to read those signs as options.

    Interesting experience I had with another guitar player... we did all from leadsheets as we had no time.
    He was much of a chord-scale guy. Really dedicated modal chord scale player, obsessed with all those modes, colours etc. And he also treated chords in charts very literally... every chord seemed a separate entity to him first of all and he tried to find chord voicing interpreting chord as a scale/scales first of all.
    Of course he tries to connect chords but it seems secondary for him.

    I am much about function ... mostly I reduce chords to their basic form mentally and to their function, and I think in terms of where it goes to.. I am all in connecting chords, going somewhere.
    And I do play a lot of subs but they are all related to function to me... they can be much 'out' and far from original chord but that only means tge tension grows.

    Funny thing is when he improvised we had more issues.
    Because he is also CST improviser (from charts!) , he is in the scale or chord of the moment (very fast and articulated player to throw in the whole scale in fast tempo).
    And me with my 'remote functional pathways' - I am heading somewhere ... generally I do not care what I play now I care what's going to be next.

    And at these points we could really lose each other. As we were lookin totally different directions.
    But we eventually found the way and it was interesting productive experience for me.

    I just gave it as an example that we sightread the same lead sheets

  26. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irishmuso
    I remember sending a similar text and getting the reply 'have faith...' We played the tune at the gig and it sounded great...probably because of the other musicians rather than me, but I was in there!
    The leader reassured me that it wouldn't be difficult. By then, I had listened to some cover versions.

    It turned out that the original version was much more difficult to follow from the chart than the covers - and the band was following the covers. The leader acknowledged that the original was problematic. He later sent me a link to youtube videos of the arrangements the band was doing, which did not include the original version of this tune.

    Anyway, when we finally played it, it was easy.