Tabs vs Ear

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  • HootsmonHootsmon Frets: 16135
    I had to learn over 40 songs from a wee cassette....had to source most of them and then study and play back tapes hour after hour and I had two weeks to do it....chords and solos

    It was mega stressful I can tell you and worked into the wee small hours whilst working reg job at daytime and was damn near hallucinating at the end
    tae be or not tae be
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  • HootsmonHootsmon Frets: 16135
    edited December 2023
    but it shapes your chops like nothing else.................man
    tae be or not tae be
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  • Hootsmon said:
    I had to learn over 40 songs from a wee cassette....had to source most of them and then study and play back tapes hour after hour and I had two weeks to do it....chords and solos

    It was mega stressful I can tell you and worked into the wee small hours whilst working reg job at daytime and was damn near hallucinating at the end

    I had almost the same experience. 10 days to learn 40 songs before my first paid covers gig in a busy bar in Wimbledon. I did it and as a result am still playing gigs with the singer 20 years later. It was MiniDiscs though rather than tape at that time!
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  • Hootsmon said:
    You don't learn shit with TAB but you do, BIG TIME, with ear
    No doubt it does,but I'd suggest that playing the instrument will improve Ear training more than sitting in front of a computer with Headphones on with no instrument in sight?
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  • I quite like TAB when learning or notating finger picking styles and tunes. For example 'Travis' style picking.

    For finger picking, I find it easier to see what's going on (particularly with the right hand picking fingers) in TAB, because things can look quite jumbled up to me in standard notation.

    It's not a competition.
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  • CrankyCranky Frets: 2631
    Starting out I was all tabs.

    But now I’m all tabs.

    Actually, I’ve found that I mostly noodle and develop my own progressions now, working on technique and fretboard knowledge.  Sometimes I need to check out a tune real quick that I don’t totally care about (like for my kids or whatever) so I just glance at the tabs to get the key.  If it’s a song I really like and wanna know more intimately, I’ll start by ear and then if I get stuck somewhere I’ll cross reference with a tab.  I’m happy to say that I can pretty quickly tell if a tab is wrong and how to fix it.

    But I don’t ear train enough.
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  • topdog91topdog91 Frets: 387
    Hootsmon said:
    You don't learn shit with TAB but you do, BIG TIME, with ear
    No doubt it does,but I'd suggest that playing the instrument will improve Ear training more than sitting in front of a computer with Headphones on with no instrument in sight?
    Sorry, but in what context does one do the latter?
    Brian Moore MC1 / i9.13p, Chapman ML-2 / ML-3, Fender 1977 Strat Hardtail / Richie Kotzen Telecaster, Peavey Predator / T-60, PRS SE Akerfeldt / Akesson , Squier Classic Vibe 60s Strat, FSR Custom Tele x2, Simon & Patrick Folk Cedar
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  • vizviz Frets: 10788
    Cranky said:
    Starting out I was all tabs.

    But now I’m all tabs.

    Actually, I’ve found that I mostly noodle and develop my own progressions now, working on technique and fretboard knowledge.  Sometimes I need to check out a tune real quick that I don’t totally care about (like for my kids or whatever) so I just glance at the tabs to get the key.  If it’s a song I really like and wanna know more intimately, I’ll start by ear and then if I get stuck somewhere I’ll cross reference with a tab.  I’m happy to say that I can pretty quickly tell if a tab is wrong and how to fix it.

    But I don’t ear train enough.

    That is ear training :)
    Roland said: Scales are primarily a tool for categorising knowledge, not a rule for what can or cannot be played.
    Supportact said: [my style is] probably more an accumulation of limitations and bad habits than a 'style'.
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  • guitarjack66guitarjack66 Frets: 2028
    topdog91 said:
    Hootsmon said:
    You don't learn shit with TAB but you do, BIG TIME, with ear
    No doubt it does,but I'd suggest that playing the instrument will improve Ear training more than sitting in front of a computer with Headphones on with no instrument in sight?
    Sorry, but in what context does one do the latter?
    When one,like myself is unable to play at home and only has a limited time to practice in a relative's spare room for an hour or so a day. 
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  • topdog91topdog91 Frets: 387
    topdog91 said:
    Hootsmon said:
    You don't learn shit with TAB but you do, BIG TIME, with ear
    No doubt it does,but I'd suggest that playing the instrument will improve Ear training more than sitting in front of a computer with Headphones on with no instrument in sight?
    Sorry, but in what context does one do the latter?
    When one,like myself is unable to play at home and only has a limited time to practice in a relative's spare room for an hour or so a day. 
    I'm still confused. You don't need an instrument to train the ear.
    Brian Moore MC1 / i9.13p, Chapman ML-2 / ML-3, Fender 1977 Strat Hardtail / Richie Kotzen Telecaster, Peavey Predator / T-60, PRS SE Akerfeldt / Akesson , Squier Classic Vibe 60s Strat, FSR Custom Tele x2, Simon & Patrick Folk Cedar
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  • dhankotbdhankotb Frets: 9
    I feel like ear training with the respective instrument is still gonna be better than isolating yourself with a set of headphones and your chosen method of playback device since it's gonna reinforce where a particular note or chord progression is on the fretboard rather than just learning what said note sounds like.

    Then again, I haven't done the latter, so can imagine that kind of isolated training reinforces what particular notes sound like, then it's an extra step placing that on the instrument, but separating the two probably helps to learn each part better.

    I've just read back your comments though and it seems like you asked why anyone would ever be in a room without an instrument, then said you don't need an instrument to train by ear so I dunno.
    Cranky said:
    Starting out I was all tabs.

    But now I’m all tabs ear.

    Actually, I’ve found that I mostly noodle and develop my own progressions now, working on technique and fretboard knowledge.  Sometimes I need to check out a tune real quick that I don’t totally care about (like for my kids or whatever) so I just glance at the tabs to get the key.  If it’s a song I really like and wanna know more intimately, I’ll start by ear and then if I get stuck somewhere I’ll cross reference with a tab.  I’m happy to say that I can pretty quickly tell if a tab is wrong and how to fix it.

    But I don’t ear train enough.
    I'm pretty much in this camp though.
    Particularly with the noodling around and finding where notes exist on the fretboard.
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  • topdog91topdog91 Frets: 387
    dhankotb said:
    I feel like ear training with the respective instrument is still gonna be better than isolating yourself with a set of headphones and your chosen method of playback device since it's gonna reinforce where a particular note or chord progression is on the fretboard rather than just learning what said note sounds like.

    Then again, I haven't done the latter, so can imagine that kind of isolated training reinforces what particular notes sound like, then it's an extra step placing that on the instrument, but separating the two probably helps to learn each part better.

    I've just read back your comments though and it seems like you asked why anyone would ever be in a room without an instrument, then said you don't need an instrument to train by ear so I dunno.
    Cranky said:
    Starting out I was all tabs.

    But now I’m all tabs ear.

    Actually, I’ve found that I mostly noodle and develop my own progressions now, working on technique and fretboard knowledge.  Sometimes I need to check out a tune real quick that I don’t totally care about (like for my kids or whatever) so I just glance at the tabs to get the key.  If it’s a song I really like and wanna know more intimately, I’ll start by ear and then if I get stuck somewhere I’ll cross reference with a tab.  I’m happy to say that I can pretty quickly tell if a tab is wrong and how to fix it.

    But I don’t ear train enough.
    I'm pretty much in this camp though.
    Particularly with the noodling around and finding where notes exist on the fretboard.
    Of course there is value in both approaches. The reason to ear train off the instrument is that it forces you to focus on how intervals sound rather than how they look and feel on the fretboard. It's easy as guitarists to play patterns and forget melody (pentatonic noodle anyone?), but that doesn't help us when we are listening to something and trying to figure out what's going on, which is largely where ear training is useful. Knowing where the intervals are is useful when we actually want to play something with our knowledge of how the intervals sound.
    Brian Moore MC1 / i9.13p, Chapman ML-2 / ML-3, Fender 1977 Strat Hardtail / Richie Kotzen Telecaster, Peavey Predator / T-60, PRS SE Akerfeldt / Akesson , Squier Classic Vibe 60s Strat, FSR Custom Tele x2, Simon & Patrick Folk Cedar
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  • guitarjack66guitarjack66 Frets: 2028
    topdog91 said:
    topdog91 said:
    Hootsmon said:
    You don't learn shit with TAB but you do, BIG TIME, with ear
    No doubt it does,but I'd suggest that playing the instrument will improve Ear training more than sitting in front of a computer with Headphones on with no instrument in sight?
    Sorry, but in what context does one do the latter?
    When one,like myself is unable to play at home and only has a limited time to practice in a relative's spare room for an hour or so a day. 
    I'm still confused. You don't need an instrument to train the ear.
    The latter I mentioned was 'sitting in front of a computer with headphones and no guitar in sight' while I said 'surely playing an instrument is a better way?' I feel the playing part is better for the likes of me.
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  • vizviz Frets: 10788
    I think “ear training” is a fairly new term that used to be called other things, and, if it is to be classed as distinct from merely “practising”, then it would indeed imply some sort of activity away from the instrument, listening to sounds and training oneself to identify them. It’s not called finger training, after all. 

    In the classical graded music exams this is called “aural” and there are a whole 18 marks devoted to it. It’s designed to gauge your understanding of different characteristics of music, such as dynamics, articulation, tonality, tempo, structure, texture, and style. There is no instrumental requirement for this section (apart from singing various phrases), and the recommended practise is to listen to aspects of music, not to play it. Of course, in order to reproduce sound, you may wish to use an instrument, but it’s specifically not designed to assess your prowess on the instrument.

    So I guess, if we are to talk specifically about ear training, as distinct from practising your instrument, then it’s a hands-off activity. 

    However, I think I prefer what others here have proposed which is a more organic approach of actively playing and actively listening to music, which develops one’s musical ear along the way.

    But whatever floats one’s boat - that’s the most important thing!
    Roland said: Scales are primarily a tool for categorising knowledge, not a rule for what can or cannot be played.
    Supportact said: [my style is] probably more an accumulation of limitations and bad habits than a 'style'.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 8890
    There’s a value in off-instrument ear training. However what’s really important is to be able to think of the sound of a note or phrase, and have your fingers play it without your brain consciously analysing it into scales. It’s the difference between piecing together a sentence in French by remembering verbs and adjectives and applying grammatical rules, and uttering a string of sounds which get you a round of drinks.
    Tree recycler, and guitarist with  https://www.undercoversband.com/.
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  • ChimpankieChimpankie Frets: 372
    I’ve always been adamant I have a terrible ear and relied on tabs/music. However, recently have been slowing songs down and working things out by ear (with a guitar in hands) and have realised two things: i. I can work things out by ear, although find solos easier than chords if the music is busy ii. It’s really really satisfying to figure out an entire solo from scratch 

    I think this is going to be my focus for the next few months instead of technique or speed. 
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  • topdog91topdog91 Frets: 387
    topdog91 said:
    topdog91 said:
    Hootsmon said:
    You don't learn shit with TAB but you do, BIG TIME, with ear
    No doubt it does,but I'd suggest that playing the instrument will improve Ear training more than sitting in front of a computer with Headphones on with no instrument in sight?
    Sorry, but in what context does one do the latter?
    When one,like myself is unable to play at home and only has a limited time to practice in a relative's spare room for an hour or so a day. 
    I'm still confused. You don't need an instrument to train the ear.
    The latter I mentioned was 'sitting in front of a computer with headphones and no guitar in sight' while I said 'surely playing an instrument is a better way?' I feel the playing part is better for the likes of me.
    Well it doesn't have to be a computer, with great apps like Functional Ear Trainer and Perfect Ear you can do ear training on the toilet or on the move.

    I think I alluded elsewhere to the reasons why the "playing part" is potentially sub-optimal for ear training, with all due respect to feelings. If you skimmed that I don't understand why you still think otherwise, but you know, horses for courses and we all go our own way.
    Brian Moore MC1 / i9.13p, Chapman ML-2 / ML-3, Fender 1977 Strat Hardtail / Richie Kotzen Telecaster, Peavey Predator / T-60, PRS SE Akerfeldt / Akesson , Squier Classic Vibe 60s Strat, FSR Custom Tele x2, Simon & Patrick Folk Cedar
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  • vizviz Frets: 10788
    topdog91 said:

    ... you can do ear training on the toilet or on the move.

    These are the same thing in our household vernacular.
    Roland said: Scales are primarily a tool for categorising knowledge, not a rule for what can or cannot be played.
    Supportact said: [my style is] probably more an accumulation of limitations and bad habits than a 'style'.
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  • digitalkettledigitalkettle Frets: 3394
    viz said:
    topdog91 said:

    ... you can do ear training on the toilet or on the move.

    These are the same thing in our household vernacular.
    New meaning for perfect pitch!
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 2739
    An interesting thread.

    Here are my experiences.

    I was always facinated by music, but, despite fiddling about with various instruments, including the guitar, from the age of 9 or 10, I did not particularly demonstate any great musical aptitude.

    From the age of around 17 I started to play bass guitar in a band with some school mates.

    The chap who played keys in that band had perfect pitch, which was an utter revelation as he could write down the chords of a song and play songs by ear. 

    Clearly, I felt, this is an exceptionally useful ability; indeed all the really great musicians I know are very good at working stuff out by ear.

    Around this time I remember having a chat with a former music teacher, who incidentally was pretty hip playing us Dark Side of The Moon and Charlie Parker (in 1980!), and he advised that a good thing to do was to work out stuff for yourself. He actually said "the first time will take a week, the second time will take a week minus 5 minutes but keep going."

    For several years I generally muddled along with a combination of working stuff out (often incorrectly!!), being shown stuff by band mates, sheet music, instruction books/videos, and tab. This is how I expect most players get buy.

    However I think I really started to make significant progress when I got a CD phrase trainer which can loop and slow down music (I now use Transcribe). 

    Not only does this help working out the notes, it also allows you to capture the nuances of the phrasing.

    I also started to work out songs with relatively (for me) complex chord structures.

    I now find it relatively easy to chart out chord progressions, even for songs with complex arrangements like Patsy Cline's Crazy.

    And I have progressed from being the band member with a "poor" ear to one with a "good" ear.

    The huge advantage of being able to work stuff out for yourself is that you aren't limiting yourself to only playing music that someone else has worked out first.

    This has particularly been driven home to me since I started playing lap steel.

    Unlike guitar there really is very little instructional material out there for lap steel, especially if, like me, you don't use C6th tuning.

    On reflection I actually find this very refreshing. One of the problems with guitar, in my opinion, is that there is now an overwhelming amount of instructional material, especially on Youtube, much of which I consider of questionable merit.

    However, had I not spent time working music out from recordings I would have found learning steel much harder.




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