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Thread: Hearing the chord change

  1. #1
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    Im trying to be able to hear the chord change in a song. Is there any thing to listen for in the song other then the change in pitch and sound. How should I go about learning this skill?

    Thanks

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    Yes there is. Firstly, most bluegrass songs use I-IV-V(7). A I7 will lead into the IV. Etc. In my opinion, there is no substitute for listening a lot and trying to play along with songs. But some music theory doesn't hurt either, to put it mildly. Two favorites: (these both go far beyond standard bluegrass songs, but then standard bluegrass songs aren't what they used to be)

    Edly's Music Theory for Practical People by Ed Roseman

    And another very valuable work, especially if you're wanting to learn jazz chord progressions:
    Hearin' the Changes by Jerry Coker, Bob Knapp, and Larry Vincent

    There's huge amounts of material out there. And I have a lot of it. But these two books along with just playing lots and lots while listening really help. Another friend told me that if you want to learn virtually all the "pop" type chord changes, get a Beatles fake book/ song book and start learning. They used it all. JMHO.

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    When I first started playing, I had problems hearing chord changes but I was playing the banjo at the time so that may have been part of my problem.

    Do you have any songbooks with a CD? If so, listen to the CD while following along in the book watching the chord changes. Listen for the difference in pitch. Also, listen to the guitar and you will generally hear a leading note as the chord changes (a leading note is the 7th note of the next chord being changed, i.e, a C# played from a G to a D).

    When I'm playing in jam, I'll watch the guitar player's left hand for the chord changes. I learned a few of the chord shapes for the guitar so I can recognize what chord is being played. Or I will sit near the bass player and will listen for the chord changes.

    Another way to recognize chord changes is that most of western music is made up of the I-IV-V (sometimes I-V) chord progression of a song. If you know the key (for example D), then the next chord will most likely be IV (G), then a resolve back to the I chord (D), next the V chord (A) and back to the I chord (D).
    Glenn Nelson
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    "Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes and play your mandolin."

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    Thanks alot for the advice




  5. #5
    The Bloomingtones earthsave's Avatar
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    Same here... I used to never be able to figure out a tune. It just takes time, trial and error, and a bit of understanding how music us put together.

    The key is to learn a bit of basic music theory as mentioned above.

    A lot of songs will be in I IV V progression, for example G, C, D or A, C, E or D, G, A.

    Most of the time the first chord played will determine the key of the song. So listen to a song, and try out chords until they match the first one played. Songs are also mathmatical and repetitive and generally follow a standard progression. In other words, verse 1, 2, and 3 will be the same, the chorus will mix up the chord progression, but generally will not throw any thing other than the I, IV, V in there.

    Hope that helps some??
    Scot
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    http://www.thebloomingtones.com/ (The Bloomingtones Website)
    The Bloomingtones MySpace Site (The Bloomingtones Website)

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    The instructional DVD "Understanding the Formula of Music" by Dan Huckabee does a good job of dealing with this and other basic music issues including fundamentals of theory and ear training. If you get it, have some kind of musical keyboard handy, even if it is a cheap kid's electronic keyboard. The DVD is for all instruments, but he does a lot of illustrations and exercises on the keyboard.

  7. #7

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    Even if you know what chords a song incorporates, you still have to be able to hear the changes. Listen to the bass. It will usually lean heavily on the root note of the current chord. It will also walk into the next chord sometimes, giving you a clue a change is coming. If you can sing bass, it helps to hear it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Songs are also mathmatical and repetitive and generally follow a standard progression. #In other words, verse 1, 2, and 3 will be the same, the chorus will mix up the chord progression, but generally will not throw any thing other than the I, IV, V in there.
    I forgot to mention that some songs will reverse the I-IV-V for the chorus to a V-IV-I. (for a I-V to V-1). Jay Buckey was a worksheet that outlines this at Music Theory and Improvising’,

    Quote Originally Posted by
    Listen to the bass. #It will usually lean heavily on the root note of the current chord.
    In BG the bass will play the Root (1) and the Dominant (V) of the chord being played on the 1-3 beat of a 4/4 song.

    Another trick I've seen #guitar players use at fiddle contests is watching the fiddler's fingers to note what scale they are playing. But this is a bit sophisticated for someone just starting out trying to hear chord changes.
    Glenn Nelson
    Las Vegas, NV

    "Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes and play your mandolin."

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    thanks there a place i go to listen and try ot play bluegrass. I hope i can use the stuff you said thanks

  10. #10

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    You know I played trumpet for 8 years and piano for 2 before college. Then I went through 4 years of music ed. I still had trouble with harmony. My advice is to listen and play. Try to figure out the chords or just pick at notes until something sounds good over a recording or live performance. Once you've gotten comfortable with what fits over a particular song, go backwards. Look at the notes that fit and figure out what the harmony is from them. That way you build your ear and your intuitive understanding, but you also build a technical understanding of the music...how things work and when you're likely to hear a certain chord progression.

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    As you get further and further into harmony the aid of a piano (or good keyboard) is a great help. For grabbing bluegrass tunes you probably don't have to go that far, but if you start getting into jazz, or anything harmonically complex, the piano is indispensible. You don't have to get good at it, you just need it there to plunk out chords for yourself. There are lots of gorgeous, close voiced chords that just don't work on mando or guitar.

  12. #12
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    There are several ear training sites on the net. Search for them. You find some that give specific excercises on hearing chord types and changes.
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    Pete Martin
    www.PeteMartin.info
    Instruction books, videos, articles, transcriptions: Bluegrass, Jazz, improvisation, ergonomics
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