Learning songs by ear part 2

In the last post I talked about how to use music theory to determine the most likely chords to be found in a song. Often, once the chord progression in a song has been determined, the next step is to figure out the strum pattern, and start jamming. However, the trickier examples are those songs that appear to be random collections of single notes. I say “appear” because it is rare that a song is comprised of random notes. There is usually some chordal framework involved, and once you know that, it is just a matter of picking out the right chord tones. So let’s look at some examples.

In “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down, the guitar part begins with a repeated pattern of single notes. Can you tell that the notes fall within a chord or not? Here, they are picking notes that are part of a bm chord, followed by a GM chord, and ending by outlining an Asus2.

In “More Than A Feeling” by Boston, we hear a repeated pattern of notes in the guitar part. First, a Dsus4 is outlined, and resolved to a DM. Then there is a Cadd9 chord, followed by a GM.

“The Blues Man” by Hank Williams Jr. begins by by outlining a GM chord, then moves to an am7, followed by a DM, and then back to a GM.

In the beginner stages of your playing you might try strumming a chord once and listening for the changes. Once you know the chords and are able to keep pace with the song, then you can work on the exact picking pattern. This next one is pretty easy to play along with if you aren’t doing the picking.

In “Good Riddance” by Green Day we start off with a GM, (This is an extremely popular chord.) followed by a Cadd9 and then a DM.