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How do you learn a tune by ear when its all just one glut of noise. I can't hear individual 'notes' is just all mushed up together to me.

I know you listen you learn..but I need the method in between. What's the secret? What is it you listen for? How do you know a sound means a certain button? Its all seems a bit like myth to me. :blink:

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How do you learn a tune by ear when its all just one glut of noise. I can't hear individual 'notes' is just all mushed up together to me.

I know you listen you learn..but I need the method in between. What's the secret? What is it you listen for? How do you know a sound means a certain button? Its all seems a bit like myth to me. :blink:

 

An over-dependence on printed sheet music may be proving self-destructive for you. If you can hold favourite tunes in your head you must try to transmit those tunes direct to the instrument through your head, your heart, your arms and your fingerstips. Give it a go. Put your sheet music in a top cupboard for now and hide the key.

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Start by listening to one simple tune. Start with a tune you know to sing/whistle. Leave your concertina alone! Listen to this one tune a few times - you'll begin to recognise bits ("Oh, that's the start coming round again" or "Here comes the chorus" or even "This is the bit that's not like anything else in the tune"). You're building a little sound map of the piece. Now you may reach for your concertina and find the first note of the piece. Play that note every time you here it coming up ... add more little bits, the odd note here and there, as you begin to recognise them coming along.

Many of the little pieces (pairs of notes, little runs, tune fragments) may well appear in other tunes (particularly from the same idiom/style of music), so as you get familiar with them in one tune they'll be useful in the future too.

It takes time ...

Samantha

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How do you learn a tune by ear when its all just one glut of noise. I can't hear individual 'notes' is just all mushed up together to me. I know you listen you learn..but I need the method in between. What's the secret? What is it you listen for?

Do't try to pick out too much at once. Ignore any chords or accompaniment and focus on the melody. When you hear a song on the radio, can you sing along with the melody? Can you then sing it without the song playing? Once you've got the melody into your head you can add your own chords, or go back to the original and try to work out what they are.

 

How do you know a sound means a certain button? Its all seems a bit like myth to me. :blink:

 

That, I'm afraid, is hard to describe. I think you'll have to put the sheet music aside and try to play by ear. Don't worry about what the notes are called, think instead about the intervals between them. After many years of playing I still don't know the names of the notes for most of the buttons, but I know the sound they make.

 

You develop a sort of instinct for the intervals between notes (I'd struggle to listen to two notes and say "That's a fourth" or "That's a fifth" but I seem to be able to find them on the instrument). It also means developing an instinctive awareness of where the notes (by which I mean the pitch rather than the name) are on the instrument. But you don't need perfect pitch, you just need to be able to pitch one note against another.

 

You'll find that many tunes contain the same little phrases and once you've worked out the fingering once you can use it again in other tunes. I have a mental "library" of lots of short two or three note phrases, so when I need them I can immediately play them without having to think about it too hard. This means that I can pick up an unfamiliar tune in a session and play most of it straight off, including playing phrases across the rows and in either bellows direction.

 

It takes practice, of course. I think it helps not to be too intellectual or analytical about it, don't worry about "is the next note a B or a C?", just trust your instinct - in time it will get more reliable. There's always a degree of trial and error to get the right note - after more than 30 years I still do my share of that - but with practice it's possible to play most tunes straight off by ear, and only the more unusual intervals should then catch you out.

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How do you learn a tune by ear when its all just one glut of noise. I can't hear individual 'notes' is just all mushed up together to me.

I know you listen you learn..but I need the method in between. What's the secret? What is it you listen for? How do you know a sound means a certain button? Its all seems a bit like myth to me. :blink:

 

Long post warning! It's full of my theories and what I do, so here's your disclaimer: it works for my whacked out mind, and that's all I know. :lol:

 

Playing by ear is something that's a challenge for me as well, but I've been able to pick some up, and it does get easier with practice.

For me I've found that the first step is being totally comfortable with your instrument. It has to feel right in your hands, it has to move the way you want to and the ways it's supposed to. In short, you must be able to play it with relative ease so it won't interfere with your learning the tunes. The best way I've found to get comfortable with your instrument is to find a quiet spot away from other people and just play random notes until you have a good idea of where everything is. You don't even have to do scales, just find out what a certain button will do, or go searching for a particular note, making up your own tunes with what you find, whatever, just play with it. It sounds horrible, but is really quite satisfying and does wonders for your playing (mine at least). Once you know what to expect from the instrument and aren't worried about being able to actually play it it's a lot easier to grasp the music that you're trying to learn, be it by ear or off the page.

 

So, once you're comfortable with the instrument and know what it (and you) can do try to pick out really easy songs that are practically burned into your brain. Nursery rhymes, short ditties, advert jingles, anything easy that you could sing backwards and forwards and has an easily recognized melody. After doing this for awhile it too becomes quite easy (if you play more than one instrument I often find transferring tunes is a great way to learn something "new" that you already know).

 

When actually learning tunes for the first time by ear the hard part (for me) is to know what part I'm supposed to be playing and to identify what is the core melody and what is dispensable ornamentation that doesn't have to be added yet. Think of it as a building. You have to have a foundation, that's the beat. You have to have walls and ceiling, that can be the key and melody. That basically constitutes the building. You can make it sound like music by adding extra rhythms (windows), extra notes or ornamentation (furniture), and harmonies or accompaniment (artwork, perhaps?), but these can come later with the piece still meeting the basic requirements of music. After you've got that you can go haywild and do whatever you want with it.

 

Individual notes aren't really the best way to start, although that's what I do, but when I'm learning vibrato (violin)the first thing I ask my teacher is "So, you want me to just move my finger a bit? How many times per note?" (in case you were wondering she just groaned, but I was serious!). You should have a feel of where the song is going before paying attention to individual notes, because then they'll make way more sense.

Listen for what makes up the tune, what themes keep coming back and how to they work together to make a coherent whole?

I'll admit right here that I cannot name notes (A, B, C, etc.) unless I stop and think about it, sometimes I even have to "count up" or find a note I do know and then play up to find what the note is. I NEVER can think "Okay, I'm gonna play E D C# A A B to start off the Mason's Apron..." I have to be able to sing something (at least mentally) to be able to play it. Of course, that means that I sometimes surprise myself by playing things I had no idea I knew, just the other day I started playing The Banshee on the concertina (not having played it for ages, and never on the concertina) and was momentarily dumbfounded, where'd THAT come from?! Apparently my fingers could do it, who knew?

 

Of course, sometimes listening for things is just hard. Last night after getting home from a concert I was all excited and wanted to see if I could figure out the fiddle parts on a few tunes. Now, it was about midnight and the band in question plays very, very fast and the violin isn't always at the forefront and so does some harmonies that are present but infuriatingly difficult to actually pin down. Needless to say I stopped in disgust and did the sensible thing of catching some sleep. I do intend to go at it again, however. ;) In cases like that I really don't know what to say, other than keep going at it and maybe look into a slow-downer and good speakers so you don't kill your ears with the iPod earbuds turned way up high. Not like I'd know..........

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Amen to all those wise advices :)

 

I have played fiddle during 15 years and I supose that helped to develop my ear. Anyway, since I'm playing concertina I'm learning to read the dots better - perhaps because the note is already there, and don`t have to find it in the fingerboard!-. Some time ago, I made this chart and have it in front of me every time I play; helps a lot to know were the duplicates note are to achieve the best fingering. With time, you'll memorize it.

 

When you have some tunes, you'll recognize that some fingering patterns are repeated. Try to remeber them, and trust your instinct. As we say here in my country, nobody is born learned!

 

Cheers,

 

Fer

 

Cowardly edited for grammar :(

layout_3Ob_Wheatstone.pdf

Edited by Fergus_fiddler
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An over-dependence on printed sheet music may be proving self-destructive for you. If you can hold favourite tunes in your head you must try to transmit those tunes direct to the instrument through your head, your heart, your arms and your fingerstips. Give it a go. Put your sheet music in a top cupboard for now and hide the key.

I'd just end up playing one note in the right rythum..... :unsure: :(

 

Start with a tune you know to sing/whistle.

I have to be able to sing something (at least mentally) to be able to play it.

When you hear a song on the radio, can you sing along with the melody? Can you then sing it without the song playing?

My problem is I can't sing and I can't whistle. :( (I can provide evidence of this...if you don't belive me. But I suggest you clear the room of any brakeable objects first.)

 

 

Do't try to pick out too much at once. Ignore any chords or accompaniment and focus on the melody. Once you've got the melody into your head you can add your own chords, or go back to the original and try to work out what they are.

I find that really difficult to pick out the melody...unless it really obvious.

 

 

That, I'm afraid, is hard to describe. I think you'll have to put the sheet music aside and try to play by ear. Don't worry about what the notes are called, think instead about the intervals between them. After many years of playing I still don't know the names of the notes for most of the buttons, but I know the sound they make.

 

You develop a sort of instinct for the intervals between notes (I'd struggle to listen to two notes and say "That's a fourth" or "That's a fifth" but I seem to be able to find them on the instrument). It also means developing an instinctive awareness of where the notes (by which I mean the pitch rather than the name) are on the instrument. But you don't need perfect pitch, you just need to be able to pitch one note against another.

what do you mean by an 'interval'? :huh:

 

It takes practice, of course. I think it helps not to be too intellectual or analytical about it, don't worry about "is the next note a B or a C?", just trust your instinct - in time it will get more reliable. There's always a degree of trial and error to get the right note - after more than 30 years I still do my share of that - but with practice it's possible to play most tunes straight off by ear, and only the more unusual intervals should then catch you out.

So I can't learn it in a month? :blink: :o :(

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I read on The Session that Slowdowner is working against natural selection in music.

 

It's as if zebras were slowed down and Lions didn't have to run so fast! Does it make it all too easy?. Mind you dots are the ultimate slowdowner aren't they?

 

Ears and Speed= Tradition and Variety

 

(Lobs in irony grenade and heads for snow covered hills!)

Edited by michael sam wild
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I read on The Session that Slowdowner is working against natural selection in music.

It's as if zebras were slowed down and Lions didn't have to run so fast! Does it make it all too easy?. Mind you dots are the ultimate slowdowner aren't they?

That's subject for a new thread I think ;)

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=8993

Edited by LDT
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What do you mean by an interval?

 

An interval is the step between two notes. if you're playing in C, the interval between C and E is a third (count 1,2,3 up the scale C,D,E). A fifth is G (1,2,3,4,5 - C,D,E,F,G).

 

You don't need to be able to understand this, even less name the intervals. You do have to have be able to hear them in your head. All you then have to do is find the physical intervals between the buttons. On anglo, in C, a third is usually the next button, and a fifth the one next to that.

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What do you mean by an interval?

 

An interval is the step between two notes. if you're playing in C, the interval between C and E is a third (count 1,2,3 up the scale C,D,E). A fifth is G (1,2,3,4,5 - C,D,E,F,G).

 

You don't need to be able to understand this, even less name the intervals. You do have to have be able to hear them in your head. All you then have to do is find the physical intervals between the buttons. On anglo, in C, a third is usually the next button, and a fifth the one next to that.

If I don't understand then how can I know if I'm doing it right or wrong (wrong being more likely)? :huh:

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What do you mean by an interval?

 

An interval is the step between two notes. if you're playing in C, the interval between C and E is a third (count 1,2,3 up the scale C,D,E). A fifth is G (1,2,3,4,5 - C,D,E,F,G).

 

You don't need to be able to understand this, even less name the intervals. You do have to have be able to hear them in your head. All you then have to do is find the physical intervals between the buttons. On anglo, in C, a third is usually the next button, and a fifth the one next to that.

If I don't understand then how can I know if I'm doing it right or wrong (wrong being more likely)? :huh:

 

What I mean is, you don't need to be thinking "Ah, that's a third, I need to play the next button up". You do need to be able to hear the difference between the two notes, and understand how that relates to the keyboard.

 

You need to have the sounds of the first note and the second note in your head. Once you've found the first note on the concertina keyboard, by trial and error if necessary, you then have to hunt around until you find the second note. Then move on to the third, and so on. To begin with, this will be very laborious as almost every note will involve trial and error, but with practice you should find that you find the notes more quickly as you start to remember where they are.

 

You'll know if you're doing it right or wrong if it sounds like the tune you're trying to play. But you will get it wrong, a lot, to begin with - don't be discouraged, the process of trial and error, what I've seen described as "hunt and peck", is all part of establishing the patterns and sounds in your brain.

 

Eventually, after a lot of practice, it will require very little conscious thought. When I play a tune from memory, I haven't memorised the fingering of the whole tune. As long as I can remember how the tune goes, I can play it, because my brain has learned where to find the notes. There may be only a few phrases in a tune where I have to remember a specific way of fingering, the rest of the time I just play.

 

I suspect this is a quite different way of playing from the way you've learned up to now, if you've been reading notes off the page and relating them to the buttons on the instrument. Playing by ear is a far more instinctive, less intellectual, approach - which makes it very difficult to explain to someone.

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Start with a tune you know to sing/whistle.

I have to be able to sing something (at least mentally) to be able to play it.

When you hear a song on the radio, can you sing along with the melody? Can you then sing it without the song playing?

My problem is I can't sing and I can't whistle. :( (I can provide evidence of this...if you don't belive me. But I suggest you clear the room of any brakeable objects first.)

 

 

Do't try to pick out too much at once. Ignore any chords or accompaniment and focus on the melody. Once you've got the melody into your head you can add your own chords, or go back to the original and try to work out what they are.

I find that really difficult to pick out the melody...unless it really obvious.

 

 

That, I'm afraid, is hard to describe. I think you'll have to put the sheet music aside and try to play by ear. Don't worry about what the notes are called, think instead about the intervals between them. After many years of playing I still don't know the names of the notes for most of the buttons, but I know the sound they make.

 

You develop a sort of instinct for the intervals between notes (I'd struggle to listen to two notes and say "That's a fourth" or "That's a fifth" but I seem to be able to find them on the instrument). It also means developing an instinctive awareness of where the notes (by which I mean the pitch rather than the name) are on the instrument. But you don't need perfect pitch, you just need to be able to pitch one note against another.

what do you mean by an 'interval'? :huh:

 

It takes practice, of course. I think it helps not to be too intellectual or analytical about it, don't worry about "is the next note a B or a C?", just trust your instinct - in time it will get more reliable. There's always a degree of trial and error to get the right note - after more than 30 years I still do my share of that - but with practice it's possible to play most tunes straight off by ear, and only the more unusual intervals should then catch you out.

So I can't learn it in a month? :blink: :o :(

 

You don't have to be able to sing, just to be able to her music in your head. (Music, mind you, not voices...) If you can hear the song in your head you have more chance of being able to play it.

 

Amen to intervals, and they do eventually start to make sense. You can hear when they're off.

Identifying melodies is hard, I know, but sometimes you can think the different parts in your head and sort of deduce what the gist is supposed to be and work from there. I's say start with some simple recordings that have very little harmony and don't swap the tune from one instrument to another.

 

If you only have a month and a lot of patience (or desperation) you might be able to get close.....but I wouldn't try it.

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Eventually, after a lot of practice, it will require very little conscious thought. When I play a tune from memory, I haven't memorised the fingering of the whole tune. As long as I can remember how the tune goes, I can play it, because my brain has learned where to find the notes. There may be only a few phrases in a tune where I have to remember a specific way of fingering, the rest of the time I just play.

 

Some of this is also going to be dependent on the instrument layout. I have a lot of duplicated notes on mine, which leads to a great many bellows/fingering options. This actually can make it slower to get a tune "right", because I have so many options to pick from as far as bellows use, ornamentation, and setting myself up for the next part of the tune.

 

The side effect of this is that when I train wreck, it's usually three or four notes after the actual mistake. I've been playing the right notes, but I get myself out of position on bellows/fingers/etc such that I end up without a good way to get back to where I need to be.

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My problem is I can't sing and I can't whistle.

 

 

LDT

 

You might re-consider what appears to be an over-use of the word "can't." It seems to me from all your video posting that, indeed, you "do", better each time.

 

I would wager that you CAN sing, regardless of what anyone else has told you. And, you know, whistling takes some effort to get going, and some time spent, but, as Pete Seeger sings, "as in life and revolution, rarely there's a quick solution. Anything worthwhile takes a little time.

 

I say take your time..... ;) Stop telling yourself what you cannot do and enjoy all that you can do, and are learning to do. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

 

Randy

Fjb

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My problem is I can't sing and I can't whistle.

 

 

LDT

 

You might re-consider what appears to be an over-use of the word "can't."

 

I was thinking exactly the same. You're always doing yourself down when you post, whereas the music you put on-line shows real progress.

 

Almost everybody can sing, but so many have been told they can't, by family, friends or misguided teachers. You don't need to sing well enough to perform, just well enough to remember a tune. You don't even need to sing out loud, just carry the tune in your head. Or just hum. No one else need hear.

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You might re-consider what appears to be an over-use of the word "can't." It seems to me from all your video posting that, indeed, you "do", better each time.

I say take your time..... ;) Stop telling yourself what you cannot do and enjoy all that you can do, and are learning to do. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

My idea of improvement would be if people didn't leave the room/building when I play. :unsure:

 

I would wager that you CAN sing, regardless of what anyone else has told you. And, you know, whistling takes some effort to get going, and some time spent, but, as Pete Seeger sings, "as in life and revolution, rarely there's a quick solution. Anything worthwhile takes a little time.

A week ago I wouldn't have known who Pete Seeger was....but I've been watching the American Folk documentaries on BBC4. ;)

 

I was thinking exactly the same. You're always doing yourself down when you post, whereas the music you put on-line shows real progress.

I find it hard to see improvement...in the same way I can't spot my own spelling mistakes. :ph34r: I think that's why I put the vids on yutube so I can get constructive critique.

Edited by LDT
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