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Originally Posted by dire tonic

G7#5 = g b d# f
G7b9 = ab b d f
Dm7b5 = ab c d f
Dm = a c d f
- are you serious?

You wouldn't know, because you can't play.

Last edited by Michael Martinez; 01/15/15 02:21 PM.
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
Originally Posted by dire tonic

G7#5 = g b d# f
G7b9 = ab b d f
Dm7b5 = ab c d f
Dm = a c d f
- are you serious?

You wouldn't know, because you can't play.

I know that <a c d f> make Dm7 and not Dm. Why don't you know that?

The point I was getting at is that you've offered a motley selection of chords to graft on to the I, IV and V of C. How much time would you ask a student to fumble around on those chords in the vain hope that they might fit if he were trying to dissect say, a Randy Newman song?

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There is nothing wrong with trying a few substitutions in various chord progressions to get a feel for what they sound like. For example you can probably sing half a dozen or more songs to:
C Am Dm G

Then try:
Cmaj7 Amin7 Dm7 G

etc.

You might 'discover' songs you weren't even thinking about.

The idea is get a feel for what these extensions sound like in context.
It doesn't really hurt to experiment. You have to start somewhere.

If your trying to dissect a specific song and you don't know what the chords sound like, then you aren't going to be dissecting anything. Go get the chords from the guitar sites and then see if they work for you using various inversions and patterns. Most times its not finding the chords that's hard, its figuring out the rhythm pattern and fingering. Since you can't exactly strum a keyboard.

Last edited by Kbeaumont; 01/15/15 04:52 PM.

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I'm all for experimenting - that's pretty much all I do. And I have no problem with your 1,6,2,5 subs since they are mild to say the least (you've suggested Am becomes Am7 - nothing wild there) but I think a beginner would wonder what world he'd stumbled into with the above recipe when there are simpler more accessible extensions to one's chord library.


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b9 is about the simplest tension you can add to a G7. The most unusual one I gave is G7#5, but in the context of a C blues sound it makes perfect sense. There's nothing outrageous or unusual to the chords I've given. If you've already got a melody in C, try them out, see where they fit under the melody.

Last edited by Michael Martinez; 01/16/15 01:20 PM.
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Michael: I hear that the 9th, 11th, and 13th chords tend to give a jazzy sound, while 7th chords give a more bluesy sound.
I would like to learn how to play these extended chords; but I know it takes time.

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Hello,

I was wondering what are the most common keys that are played for most songs by ear?

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When I started trying to copy things I heard I would always use the key of the original - it's a lot more difficult to do otherwise. If you're dredging things up from memory, tunes you know very well which don't require referring to a recording, there's a natural tendency to work in C, I think. That's all well and good but if you stick doggedly to C then over time it will habituate you to the extent that you'll avoid other keys. The only way round that is to discipline yourself by working in neighbouring keys from time to time; add a sharp or flat to the key sig, i.e. instead of C try working out a tune in F or G. There will be some benefit in working in this new key on a tune you've already mastered in the key of C. If you're bored with that tune then do whatever motivates you to get working (new tune!). After a while, branch out further.

Working with other musicians is the best medicine since this will force you to use other keys - singers in particular can be very fussy.

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Hey Chaz, I agree with DT above. Everyone probably has a favorite key they enjoy playing in (C would be my guess too as the most popular starter key).

I began expanding that by inserting a key change to tunes I was playing ... your ears can tell you which key shifts may work well just like mine did, or listen to music you want to play which have a key change within and let your ears sort that out. Good ear training too, I might add.

Last edited by Rerun; 02/05/15 07:44 AM.

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G is a very common C&W key. D being a close second, followed by C & A. As been said C is a bit too easy. Getting in the habit of catching that F# in the D chord, you've got the I, IV, V in G.


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Hey, I've played by ear all my life and now I'm learning to read and play by notation.

Playing by ear in the beginning is not about hitting every original note but rather getting the harmony (progressions) down that you hear. With me in the beginning it was all chords in the RH while the LH played bass octaves, a rather common technique I've learned from a high school buddy.

Listening is a huge part of it and in conjunction with basic theory. Learn and know the diatonic system of chords and incorporate scales for melody later.

Playing by ear is a perpetual improvisation. It's free form! You can play anything anyway you want.

Theory is utmost important. The knowledge alone will enhance your ear greatly because you will understand what you hear regardless of whether or not you can play something. Most, if not many, POP songs are 100% or nearly 100% pure diatonic. What does that mean? Well, check out the chords. In the key of C we are talking about all the white keys: In the key of C the chords are: C Dm Em F G Am Bdim. Likely, you will not hear any diminished chords in POP tunes. You will also realize that many songs have the same identical chord progression makeup.

Now, you incorporate the diatonic scale of chords in all keys and become familiar with the pattern.


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Yes, if you learn to play by ear in the Key of C and the theory behind it, then it makes it easier to learn the other 11 keys. My next step is to learn the common progressions that are found in different styles of music.

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Does "playing by ear" mean "playing by memorizing"? I haven't heard a good definition of playing by "ear".


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Originally Posted by Davepost
Does "playing by ear" mean "playing by memorizing"?
Play by ear - means for a normal person to use short-term memory. We can repeat by hearing short fragment of a few notes. Play by memory is a connection of all fragments of the piece that have been learned by ear.

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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Davepost
Does "playing by ear" mean "playing by memorizing"?
Play by ear - means for a normal person to use short-term memory. We can repeat by hearing short fragment of a few notes. Play by memory is a connection of all fragments of the piece that have been learned by ear.

Another definition independent of short or long term memory (I don't say this is the 'right' definition) is the ability to hear a fragment of music and to be able to accurately reproduce it on an instrument without recourse to any written form. But it could also be a piece of music which has been familiar in the distant or recent past and which one is able to play from the memory of it.

I've always understood 'playing from memory' to refer usually to classical music which has been learnt from the printed score and committed to memory after sufficient repetition.

I suppose memory is bound to be a feature in all modes of playing except 'sight reading' but playing by ear is about translating an auditory sense of music directly to a performance on an instrument - i.e. it presupposes that you can adequately PLAY that instrument.

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It seems to me that "playing by ear" has many nuances as seen by different folks here. To me (my "nuance" of playing by ear) is not using sheet music or a lead sheet (fakebook) to play music.

In my own experience on the guitar and now piano, I am finding that when I learn a tune by slowing down the recording and figuring out what is being played, I seem to memorize the music as a byproduct of learning it by ear. Maybe that is due to listening to it over and over and then playing it over and over (i.e. sheer repetition). Anyway, this practice is very common for guitar players and, from everything I have read and discussed in person with pro jazz musicians of various instruments, common among them too.

I am working my way through the Duane Shinn 52 week crash course that teaches both reading and working from lead sheets in parallel. However, I find that when I take a break from that and learn my favorite recordings of solo piano music "by ear" (according to my definition of that practice), I seem to progress much faster. I think we all have different strengths. Some people become great sight readers, while others do better by ear, and still others just do it all, and most of us probably fall somewhere in between.

As some here have noted, knowing at least basic diatonic theory really goes a long way. By knowing what chords are most likely to occur in a given key, and among those which are most likely to occur most frequently, you can predict more and do less of the "hunt and peck". Figuring out the key is often rather easy, and then apply theory to make your predictions and deal with the stuff that doesn't quite follow that as it comes. I learned that on guitar first and then came to piano, where it is equally true.

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Originally Posted by Davepost
Does "playing by ear" mean "playing by memorizing"? I haven't heard a good definition of playing by "ear".



Hey Dave, for me (1) I'm either playing a melody I already know (maybe from when I was a kid or teenager even) and then adding/playing the chord changes as my ears hear those chord changes coming up or (2) just making something up/improvising and playing the chord changes as I hear them coming up ... not to difficult once your ears understand what part they play on the team.

Rhythm patterns I'd say are more of a muscle memory thing where your LH combines that rhythm element with some of the harmony be it arpeggios, boom-chucks, the shuffle and other blues bass lines and on and on.

I guess I could memorize that a certain tune goes from I to vi to ii to V but why put the additional effort in when your ears begin to hear those plus more and more chord options coming up.


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Playing by ear could be picking a song out on the piano while listening to a recording. With no visual aid.

It could also be "hearing" in your mind's ear that a I chord (let's say in the key of C) moves to a C# diminished chord. Then to a D minor, then to a V chord. These sorts of things are perceptible. It's easier when the harmony is functional. Also there are tons of recordings (listen to Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five for example) with III VI II V progressions. Things like how they are voiced by the pianist can add to the challenge in hearing them.

I would say that memorizing from repetition is simply learning by rote. I developed my ear by struggling to figure songs out. Also being aware of root movement. Of course the root is not always in the bass.

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It just occurred to me that some people might not get what I was describing in the chord progression.
So I slung together a little musical example. Listen to the simplicity of the chord progression at the beginning. Then listen to the same progression dressed up with jazzy chords. If you learn to hear the bass line, you have a key to unlocking the "hearing" the chord changes.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vso3a7qefsn1bfg/1_1%23_2_5example.mp3?dl=0

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The dropbox link I included in my post seems to require copying and pasting. So I copied the file to soundcloud.

The link:

https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/1-1-2-5example

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