Mel Bay Flatpicking Guitar Ear Training Course by Brad Davis () – Music. On the audio CD which accompanies the Flatpicking the Blues book Brad Davis of the blues remember to check out Brad Davis’ Blues Ear Training Course. We have had two articles appear in Flatpicking Guitar Magazine Pencils and Standard Music or Tab paper OR Computer Notation program.

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After many years of teaching guitar, I realize I have been holding out on my students. I’ll listen and decide whether the student is ready for this material and if so, I’ll write out the chord progression or transcribe flatlicking solo into tab or standard notation for the student.

The process may take only a few minutes, but transcriptions may take up one entire lesson or more. Although I ask the student from time to time whether he hears a slide here, an open string there, a IV chord here, I do most of the work. The sad part is that traininy the student goes away happy, I haven’t really helped him become a self-sufficient musician.

For those of us who learned to play before the current education explosion, learning to play was a slow aer of trail and error–breaking down the licks on recordings one-by-one or maybe asking a good player to show us a lick or phrase.

Although this kind of learning is slow, the concepts and techniques have time to sink in really well. OK, I’ve decided to come clean. Here are my tricks of transcription. I’ll start simple and build from there. Let’s say we are trying to learn a Tony Rice song and solo from a CD. Listen to courwe entire song to determine the key and position the guitarist is using. Modern recordings generally use standard tuning, but older and non-professional recordings may not be tuned to A Flatt and Scruggs tuned high on many of their early recordings to achieve a bright tone.

Listen for the characteristic sounds of each instrument for clues as to the tuning. A stray open, ringing string on any instrument may be just the clue you need.

In G position, guitars and banjos sound the same capoed at the third fret or fourth fret, but fiddles and mandolins sound very different played in Bb and B. Use your guitar to find matching notes and chords. If you thing you have found the key, let’s now focus on the guitar part.

On stereo recordings, the guitar may be lounder on one side. Even if the guitar is placed in the middle of the mix, the fiddle or banjo may be panned hard to the left or right. Use the balance control to find the place where the guitar is heard the best. Listen to the recording again and try to “hear” what position the traininh guitar is playing in.

The “G” shape, for example, has a characteristic sound no matter where the capo is placed.

Play Music By Ear

In other words, even capoed at the 4th fret, a “G” chord sound like a G chord because of the order of intervals in that particular chord shape. Also, use your guitar sense. If you think the song is in the Key of Guitxr, where would it most likely be played on the guitar?

The possibilities are many, but let’s look at the more common ones: The last note and the highest note in pitch strummed in a chord often the first string is a good clue of the capo position.

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If you keep hearing the A note first string, fifth fret every time an F chord is played, chances are the capo is at the third fret. Before you tackle the specific chord changes of the Tony Rice song, let’s look at Joe’s General Chord Progression rules. These may be very obvious to many of you, but it has to be said: Using these rules as a guide and your ear as a tool, coures the CD and pause the recording at the first suspected chord change. Sing the first note of the song at the place of the change and try to find the appropriate chord.

When you think you have found it, double check with the recording and then move on through the piece. Once you have made it through a verse and a chorus, most of the work is done. This skill only develops through practice, so promise yourself to learn at least one new song a week from a recording. After you have determined the key of the flatpicoing, the position the guitarist is using, and the chord changes, you are now ready to start breaking down the solo.

There is a possibitlity that the soloist is capoed differently than the rhythm guitar. Bands with two guitars and multi-track recording make this possible, so check that the solo guitar sounds like it is in the same position.

Flatpicking Guitar Ear Training Course

If this checks out, move on. I use a tfaining speed cassette recorder for most of my transcription work. The desired passage is recorded at full speed and then played back at “slow” speed which is approximately one-half the “fast” speed.

The result is that you then hear the passage half as fast and one octave lower than it was originally recorded. The trick is that you have to hear the octave drop and adjust for it when you search for the note on your instrument. I switch between speeds often to check that I am still in the right octave.

If the solo moves to the fifth and sixth strings of the guitar, it gets harder to distinguish the individual notes. I’ll gutiar my tricks for this problem for the end of this column. As a teenager, I used a four speed record player to slow down recordings. A little fine tuning trainjng my guitar to the record and I was on my way.

With guitar in hand and a standard record player on the floor, John would place his foot against the side of the record. With careful pressure adjustment, he could slow the turntable down enough to understand the fastest licks.

In my twenties, I bought a reel-to-reel recorder and used the seven and a half and three and three-quarters speeds to slow down the licks. Somewhere I still have piles of tapes filled with solos-no songs, just solos. Digital technology has produces machines and computer programs capable of slowing music down without changing pitch. This technology continues to improve, but for now I’ll stick with cassette tape. The basic techniques are the same no matter what system you use.

Flatpicking Guitar Ear Training Course – Brad Davis | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic

If you are working with a cassette player or a digital “Lick Grabber,” gguitar should transfer the solo section from the CD to cassette or into the “Graber’s” memory. Listen to the solo several times at full speed.

Transcribe as much as possible at full speed. Play the first few notes of the solo and try to sing them. Now look for those notes on the flatlicking.


Try for the first note only if necessary. Once you think you have the first notes, play the music at half speed and try playing along. Any mistakes should be obvious. Make adjustments and move on.

If you are writing tab or music, write down these notes in whatever notation form you are using. Some players prefer to memorize as they go. It takes longer, but you will know the solo when you finish. Many times I write as I go and then I’ll have to learn the solo from the paper at a later date.

If you are new to tab or music writing, don’t worry too much about getting the music into proper measures with correct time values. Just get the numbers on the right tab line or flafpicking on the staff. This music is just for you and you already know how it sounds. You just want a reminder of where to put your fingers!

Continue note-by-note or phrase-by-phrase until you reach a logical stopping place.

Play what you have done so far over until you can play it without stopping and compare it to the full speed original. You may hear subtle differences fkatpicking you missed at first: Make any needed adjustments and rest your ears.

A few minutes of hard listening will really tire your ears and brain. Flatpickin you reach sections you just can’t figure out, skip them and continue with the easier trainung. Many times I’ll get stumped and quit for a day.

The next day, the notes sound incredibly clear and obvious to me. Continue until you have completed the solo. Right or wrong, you have begun. Now that you have one under your belt, let’s look at some issues.

As any given note can be played several places on a aer, finding the right one can be a big job for the transcriber. I have sometimes written entire phrases in two or three positions and learned each one to see which one made the most “sense. A combination of positioins might be the answer. Slides and open strings are often indications that the guitarist is shifting position.

Tips on Ear Training

If you are studying one particular artist, some things may start coming easier. After transcribing ten Tony Rice solos or learning them from someone else’s transcriptionyou will have a sense of some of Tony’s favorite “places” on the neck. Armed with this knowledge, you may develop an intuition about where a given Tony solo is headed. This kind of insight into how a player is thinking is one of the invaluable benefits of transcription work.

After you have finished with a section or the whole solo, try to get some feedback from a musical friend or a guitar teacher. What you want to know is: As you develop, you can trust your ear more and more, but early on, you should get some feedback. Don’t get discouraged if your transcription is way off base.

Ear skills can be improved with work. Its funny that ear skills are among the most important skills for improvising musicians and yet there is very little instructional material available.

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