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Thread: Play by ear

  1. #1

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    Default Play by ear

    Maybe this question is a bit silly, but, how do you play songs by ear? I've been playing drums for almost 3 years, i can read, i take lessons etc and i can play songs but i can't play songs by ear. I can play grooves by ear but i can't play fills by ear. I play them only if i have them transcribed. I know a lot of self-taught drummers that don't know how to read but can play full songs by ear. Have you got any tips, suggestions or opinion about this???
    Drumming till my arms and feet go dead!!!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Play by ear

    Just listen to the song lots.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Northern Redneck View Post
    Just listen to the song lots.
    Theres your answer........short and simple , its that easy .

    Just listen to the song and break it down to what the HH is doing and what the bass is doing etc .
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  4. #4
    PearlDrummer18 Guest

    Default Re: Play by ear

    I play totally by ear but only because i can't read music. GoneFishing said it best...just listen to the song over and over and break it down. What i do is learn it in sections. I learn the intro and then move to the next part of the song and when i get that then i move to the next part of the song. Start from the begining of the song each time you play it back. That's just the way i do it and it seems to make it more easy for me.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Play by ear

    i can play by ear and read music.
    when im learning a song i want to play or that my band is covering, all i do is listen to it over and over again.
    when you start getting comfortable with the song, start tapping along to the other drummers hand with your hands. this will give you a good structure for the song. once you have the hands down solid then you can listen to the kick.

  6. #6

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    i can only play by ear. if i think to much i cant play it.

  7. #7

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    I read music and play by ear, Like pearldrummer18 said try it a section at a time if learning a song. If you are trying to improvise then try them really slow and add speed as you are able to. I wear a set of headphones with my MP3 player and try to play along with the songs as I go and then try to practice intro's fills and ending seperate.

  8. #8
    Larrysperf Guest

    Default Re: Play by ear

    Ditto on all the above

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Play by ear

    It's like GF and Pearldrummer said...just take one section of the song, break it down and figure out when each drum or cymbal is hit and in what way (softly, loudly, etc.). Once you've got that section down, break down the next section until you've learned the song.

    For me, it makes it easier to write the song down in tablature form as I go along, for future reference as well as to help make it clearer to me.
    Peace, Love, and Rock N Roll

    Matt

  10. #10

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    I just read music but mostly i play by ear.
    i completely agree with the other guys and their advice is spot on. You could also try figuring out the beat for the song and then figure out the fills one by one, simply by listening to it over and over and workin it out.
    www.youtube.com/dannyatcranny

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  11. #11

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    On classic rock stuff I learned it all by repetition....hearing the songs over and over and over again until I heard the drum parts clearly in my head.

    These days I play mostly by feel. I listen to the songs, but don't try to emulate the drummer on the recording. We all have our own style of playing, so I adapt my drumming to the song and try to enhance it in the best way I know how. My band does covers and originals, and for the originals there's nothing to listen to except what the other guys in the band are playing. But even on the covers, we adapt them to our own "style", so I listen to them to know the structure of the song, but then I play them my own way.
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  12. #12

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    Just listen to the song and play with it. It works for me. That's how I know where the accents go in the Illini Drumline's Long.
    PHROGGE'S AQUARIAN ARMY
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  13. #13

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    I just flail like an ape...and pray for the best.


    -Les

  14. #14

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    I play by ear, repetition and practice.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lesizmor View Post
    I just flail like an ape...and pray for the best.


    -Les
    LOL, just throwing limbs right les!

  16. #16

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    This may have been stated before because I haven't read every replyto this thread. My advice would be to spend allot of time playing to a CD or I pod and train your self to play by ear. That is the only way I can play I don't read music. So each skill has its upsides and downsides to be considered. I will say however that I have been getting allot of gigs lately to sit in with bands as a fill in with no rehearsal because I have developed that skill. They continue to use me so I guess i am pulling it off. I do want to learn to read though because I also think that is an invaluable skill as well.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumbled time View Post
    LOL, just throwing limbs right les!
    Ju gottit mang!


    -Les

  18. #18

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    Cool Re: Play by ear

    Keep in mind that drum parts are combinations of "grooves" and fills and/or breaks. Since you are already playing grooves by ear, you may know more music than you think. This is where practicing a piece of music helps. I can read, but not as well as I would like, so practicing the song (or jamming with whatever's on my radio or CD player) helps me.

    With time and practice you'll pick up more songs and get more comfortable with playing by ear...

    Good luck!
    keep the beat goin' ... Don't keep it to yourself!

    Charlie

    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." --Henry David Thoreau, "Walden," 1854

    "There's a lot to be said for Time Honored tradition and value." --In memory of Frank "fiacovaz" Iacovazzi

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  19. #19

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    Thanks a lot guys. You've been very helpful
    Drumming till my arms and feet go dead!!!

  20. #20

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    Grooves are all you really need to know. Fills are like fine spices on a delicious piece of roast beef - welcomed, but not really a necessity. You can be pretty lenient with them. I doubt an audience would really mind, unless there's a really annoying drummer in the audience crying shenanigans whenever you play a slightly different fill to what was recorded. More people would be angry if a really funky piece of music just had you doing a basic rock beat instead. Or double bass machine gun rolls in a disco song.
    Today, on Ethel The Frog...

  21. #21

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    Yeah dude, i totaly agree with you, but there are some songs that fills are basic. I listen to a lot of tool and i want some day to be able to cover some tool's songs. You can't play all danny carey's fills with 16s. You know what i mean. That kind of songs you have to play as close to the original as it can be
    Drumming till my arms and feet go dead!!!

  22. #22

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    thx i reallly needed this because im a play by-ear drummer also...

  23. #23

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    you can also load it as an mp3 file into audacity and change the song speed, slow it down or speed it up as much as you want. Select the "Effect" menu. From the Effect menu, choose "Change speed." Move the slider to the left to slow down the file or enter a decimal number to indicate the speed ratio you desire.

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    Quit belly aching and just do it...no other way.
    - RIP Frank

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by adccnotbe View Post
    Maybe this question is a bit silly, but, how do you play songs by ear? I've been playing drums for almost 3 years, i can read, i take lessons etc and i can play songs but i can't play songs by ear. I can play grooves by ear but i can't play fills by ear. I play them only if i have them transcribed. I know a lot of self-taught drummers that don't know how to read but can play full songs by ear. Have you got any tips, suggestions or opinion about this???
    Well, my friend..you are a step ahead of some of us with regards to being able to read (music that is..)

    For me, there is no other way to play but by ear. This is something that u get better at with time. This way of playing drums or any instrument, I believe requires some natural ability from the get go. It is also a honed skill to be able to pick apart a groove and dissect an intricate fill.

    For me, I will try to stay as true to form within a given piece to keep it recognizable but will almost always add my own seasoning to the song to sort of put the Lesizmor stamp on it. That's the beautiful part about being a drummer for me. Total artistic expressionism.

    Take your time and know that it took alot of us many years to effectively play by ear. Over time, you will be listening and developing your own style. It is important not to limit yourself to one style of music. Try to listen to a variety of genres and really listen to the drummers approach to the material. Keeping a diverse mindset will make you that much more versatile as a musician. Plus it's a blast to be able to play more than just Rock or HipHop beats..

    Take your time and have fun with it!


    -Les
    Last edited by Lesizmor; 09-14-2009 at 07:12 AM.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by dreygard View Post
    thx i reallly needed this because im a play by-ear drummer also...
    Thats exactly why this board is here....to help not only the guy asking the question ,but also for those like you who are in the same boat .

    Some days you offer what you know , other days you learn something new from someone else . Its a give and take type board .

    Some day it will be your turn to offer up some advise you picked up here to help out another drummer.........thats called playin it forward .
    slot # 1

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    CHARTER MEMBER OF PHROGGE'S AQUARIAN ARMY

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    Zildjian Vintage A Team


    RIP Frank.............thanks for being part of my journey

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