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thatguywiththeukulele
03-31-2010, 01:01 PM
Hey i want to learn to play ukulele by ear (like how ws64 does) i know some music theory but cant transpose stuff well....But i know the diffrence in keys and stuff and so on. So is there anything you guys can show me or teach me. I cant really buy anything right now so please help ^.^

Markwell
03-31-2010, 01:05 PM
I've always thought that it's a case of knowing the key of a song, what chords are used, and those scales, and then a sort-of-trial-and-error process, but with a bit of an inclination due to a knowledge of music theory.

Then again, I may be completely wrong.

VixDee
03-31-2010, 01:10 PM
Hey i want to learn to play ukulele by ear (like how ws64 does) i know some music theory but cant transpose stuff well....But i know the diffrence in keys and stuff and so on. So is there anything you guys can show me or teach me. I cant really buy anything right now so please help ^.^

I'd like to learn that way too!

Guting
03-31-2010, 01:31 PM
it takes time to develop an ear, just keep on practicing/listening/watching instead of rushing

Ukulele JJ
03-31-2010, 01:34 PM
I've always thought that it's a case of knowing the key of a song, what chords are used, and those scales, and then a sort-of-trial-and-error process, but with a bit of an inclination due to a knowledge of music theory.

Then again, I may be completely wrong.

No, I'd say you're spot-on.

Start with single-line melodies. Learn to pick them out by ear. There's no shame with starting out with "Happy Birthday" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

Tune your uke by ear every now and then. It trains your ear to hear how similar (or not) two pitches are.

Develop the ability to "hear" when a song changes from one chord to another. You don't have to know what the chords are yet, you just have to be aware that the chord has changed from something to something else. Most people who have been playing for a short time are pretty good at this already.

Next, work on picking out bass notes. Not the bass line, per se (although that would be nice!), but just the basic root of each chord that goes by. That's going to (usually) give you the letter used in the name of the chord.

Then, work on figuring out the full name of the chords. If you know a bit of theory (scales, chords, keys) then the bass and melody will be big clues as to the full chord.

Once you know the chords (either by ear or from a chord chart) and the melody, try to figure out a way to play the melody while also tossing in a full chord now and again. Knowledge of chord inversions will be a big help here, since that will give you more ways to toss that chord in with any given melody note. Now you're getting into the WS64 neighborhood.

(Note: I can do those last step pretty okay on piano, but I'm lousy at it on the uke. I'm not even in the same state as WS64, much less neighborhood!)

JJ

darkwater
03-31-2010, 01:57 PM
I know theory well, but I also play multiple instruments in multiple tunings. I learn my scales to the point of being automatic, then think scale numbers rather than actual note names. I have to improvise a lot as the lead player and sometimes have to change keys to accommodate a singer. Theory is great for helping you understand what's happening, but there's not a lot of time to think theory on the fly. Trust your ear. If it sounds good it is good.

sukie
03-31-2010, 02:04 PM
I know theory well, but I also play multiple instruments in multiple tunings. I learn my scales to the point of being automatic, then think scale numbers rather than actual note names. I have to improvise a lot as the lead player and sometimes have to change keys to accommodate a singer. Theory is great for helping you understand what's happening, but there's not a lot of time to think theory on the fly. Trust your ear. If it sounds good it is good.

That sounds like really good advise. Especially the part about scale numbers vs. note names. I'm sometimes still stuck on thinking about what the note looks like on a piano keyboard. That takes an extra-long time to figure things out. I imagine practicing scales would be good for improving intonation too. It's just that practicing them isn't too much fun.
Thanks for the words.

Skottoman
03-31-2010, 02:10 PM
I don't know theory, but have played music by ear since the age of 14 (and that was a long time ago)... I'm also an audio engineer by trade, so I have good hearing.

That said, I learned my first song on the uke (greensleeves) by simply starting at the bottom string and playing the initial melody, then I'd pick each next string to find a 'chord' that sounded good to my ears.
Once I finally figured out all my patterns (as I don't even know what chords I'm playing), I repeated them until I could play the song.

That's how I learned my first song, and I couldn't tell you to this day what all the chords are I'm using. I think that is how you learn to play by ear. String by string until you find a pleasant sounding chord.

Now I am starting to feel when I'm playing what i hear in my head!
Keep at it!
Cheers,
Skottoman

the52blues
03-31-2010, 02:47 PM
Playing by ear really requires an innate "talent" you are born with. Some have it, some don't. Those without it can conquer playing by learning theory and practicing. Just trying different notes until you stumble on the right ones and then repeat until memorized is not really what is meant by "playing by ear." I find a lot of the people who study some basic theory and have an understanding of key signatures and chord progression suddenly their mind goes "Oh I get it...this is easy".........and some don't. Some people are better at fixing things or knitting....

darkwater
03-31-2010, 03:20 PM
I think it may have been in Pete Seeger's banjo book, a quote from an old-time banjo player: "Sure, I read notes, but I haven't let it hurt me none." As a classically trained musician who mostly plays by ear these days I've made it my mantra.

mds725
04-01-2010, 07:42 AM
You can always try Jim D'Ville's DVD, "Play Ukulele By Ear"

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_1dRexMfqS6Y/SuneKKkRDnI/AAAAAAAAAKI/m3FD3pKudNw/S150/Uke+art+for+web.jpg

Here's a review of the DVD by Ukulele Tonya:
http://ukuleletonya.com/blog/2009/08/dvd-review-play-ukulele-by-ear-by-jim-dville#more-119

If you can't buy the DVD now, maybe someone in the ukulele community in your city has a copy to lend to you. If you can buy it at some later time, here's Jim D'Ville's blog. http://playukulelebyear.blogspot.com/

FHS-72
04-01-2010, 09:08 AM
There is a chord progression chart that has all the progressions for any chord. I was told that if you new the chord progressions, you would be able to play any song when you figure out what key the song is in.

nomis
04-01-2010, 11:36 AM
I think you need to make a clear definition between reading music and learning music theory - They are two completely different things. Although it is possible to get by (at a push) without reading music, without theory you will definitely reach an impassable point (particularly when it comes to arranging music). For example, if you like a vocal song but want to play it on the uke in a melody chord (solo) style you will almost certainly need to know a little about chord substitution as it is unlikely the the original harmony would contain enough harmonic movement (chords) to support the melody. If on the other hand you've managed to pick up the whole tritone substitution thang by ear - then good for you.

Why is everyone so against learning a little theory - it won't kill you. I mean, would you rather visit a doctor who had studied his theory or one who was kinda picking up bits of info here and there.
The fact is, it's often a lot more painless and faster to achieve your ends with a little structure compared with a haphazard uneducated approach.

P.S. When amazing musicians are interviewed you will often hear them playing down or completely denying any knowledge of music theory - THEY'RE LYING. I mean, they want you to think that they were born with this talent (rather than acquiring it through blood and sweat) and that a mere mortal could never acquire it.

P.P.S Knowing the key of a song doesn't necessarily tell you anything about what chords it contains as many songs contain temporary (or full) modulations or non-diatonic chord substitutions. Even a simple 12 bar blues doesn't fit into a basic major or minor key because a harmonized major scale only contains one dominant (7) chord, whereas a blues has three (often many more). In music, song keys are often just basic ways of rationalizing its structure of indicating it's general harmonic centre.