All profit supporting   special needs music

Playing by ear

Who relies on ear playing over reading?


  • Total voters
    139
P

Petlyn

Member
Messages
104
Locality
Wirral NW UK
I have to agree Petlyn. To jump in immediately after the leaders say “One two, one two three four” and not know what key or scale is going to lead to a very ragged start. I can identify the key from first couple of notes, but the “flavour” takes a couple of bars.
You can of course watch the leader’s fingers on his/her instrument preparing for the first note, as you curse under your breath!
Oh I had to smile reading this as the ‘singer’ told the audience what we were going to play we were all new to each other and off we go “oh dear” !!!
 
P

Petlyn

Member
Messages
104
Locality
Wirral NW UK
Providing they've all heard the piece in question - that is something that is unlikely to happen with ear players.
If you have an ‘idea’ of the key fine but I am a freelance as well as a permanent player and it’s not always “ plane sailing” I can assure.
Try playing in a Blues band! The lead guitarist telling you what key it’s in would be a luxury.
The truth is that a lot of the time they don’t actually know what key it’s in.
Haha !!
 
F

farina_man

Member
Messages
46
Locality
Cumbria, England
Being very old I still use the system I was taught as a teenaged dance-band sax player - I give the key to the other band members by holding up (or down) fingers to show the number of sharps or flats in the (concert) key signature, e.g. one finger up = G (no, not what you're thinking.....) two up is D, one down is F, two down is Bb, etc.. This has the great advantage of not having to shout across a noisy bandstand, which can be open to mis-hearing (like Eb for Bb or Db), and can look a bit unprofessional from the audience's point of view. The other thing which used to help in busking dance- and jazz-bands was that they generally played things in the written key, which in time we all learned - the key the song was published in - although trad bands often simplified keys to suit their limited technique, e.g. C became Bb, G became F, and Ab became the third theme of Tiger Rag and nothing else, ever!
 
P

Petlyn

Member
Messages
104
Locality
Wirral NW UK
Being very old I still use the system I was taught as a teenaged dance-band sax player - I give the key to the other band members by holding up (or down) fingers to show the number of sharps or flats in the (concert) key signature, e.g. one finger up = G (no, not what you're thinking.....) two up is D, one down is F, two down is Bb, etc.. This has the great advantage of not having to shout across a noisy bandstand, which can be open to mis-hearing (like Eb for Bb or Db), and can look a bit unprofessional from the audience's point of view. The other thing which used to help in busking dance- and jazz-bands was that they generally played things in the written key, which in time we all learned - the key the song was published in - although trad bands often simplified keys to suit their limited technique, e.g. C became Bb, G became F, and Ab became the third theme of Tiger Rag and nothing else, ever!
In 2 words “Bloody Excellent” thanks wish I had sussed such a simple answer to what could be and sometimes is a problem particularly if you new to the band. Fantastic we should have ALL learned this technique and made it a standard thanks.
 
P

Petlyn

Member
Messages
104
Locality
Wirral NW UK
As input for folks (those of us) looking to improve our abilities on this front.
I came across the vido below, which is of relevance, from a SOTW post of a book.
Looks like some useful stuff. I actually emailed TE Tuner to suggest they add the ability to play a random tone, they said they where positive.

View: https://youtu.be/-UMLDKgQl5s
Yes love his video’s !!
 
P

Petlyn

Member
Messages
104
Locality
Wirral NW UK
Being very old I still use the system I was taught as a teenaged dance-band sax player - I give the key to the other band members by holding up (or down) fingers to show the number of sharps or flats in the (concert) key signature, e.g. one finger up = G (no, not what you're thinking.....) two up is D, one down is F, two down is Bb, etc.. This has the great advantage of not having to shout across a noisy bandstand, which can be open to mis-hearing (like Eb for Bb or Db), and can look a bit unprofessional from the audience's point of view. The other thing which used to help in busking dance- and jazz-bands was that they generally played things in the written key, which in time we all learned - the key the song was published in - although trad bands often simplified keys to suit their limited technique, e.g. C became Bb, G became F, and Ab became the third theme of Tiger Rag and nothing else, ever!
Again we’ll written and interesting THANKS
 
Colin the Bear

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,819
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Guitarist to bass player
"Is this in D or are you mad at me?"
 
mizmar

mizmar

Senior Member
Messages
1,498
Locality
Trondheim, Norway
...I find it hard to play stuff I've learned from dots, from memory for the sax.
Because you haven't learned it. Innit? ;)
Of all the posts in this long thread, this is the one I've had to read and re-read. I've gone over it and analyzed it.
At the beginning of the year I resolved to put Mr. Bear's method, complicated as it is, into practice. I snagged some song arrangements for sax that are just a little more interesting than the real book and have been slowly commiting stuff to memory.
It's done me the world of good. Learning, eh? Who'd'v thought :thumb:
 
Colin the Bear

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,819
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Lockdown has been tough on the old memory box. Some lyrics seem to have been lost and some melodies have gaps in them. If only I could turn it off and on again. A refresh will have to do. ;)
 
Dr G

Dr G

Member
Messages
675
Locality
Northern California
I'd like to blame everything on Covid and lockdowns, too, but then I recall that my optometrist told me quite some time ago that I was getting old.
 
Jimmymack

Jimmymack

Senior Member
Messages
1,174
Locality
London
I'd like to blame everything on Covid and lockdowns, too, but then I recall that my optometrist told me quite some time ago that I was getting old.
Lockdown has been tough on the old memory box. Some lyrics seem to have been lost and some melodies have gaps in them. If only I could turn it off and on again. A refresh will have to do. ;)
I think the truth lies somewhere in between, or maybe it's both and. Lockdown caused some things to slip away unnoticed and age brings its own challenges.
 
LostCircuits

LostCircuits

Member
Messages
761
Locality
Black Forest
I can tell you that even a mild case of COVID a few weeks ago threw a major monkey wrench in my gray matter. Lockdown wasn't too bad but maybe I just didn't notice it. Playing by ear on the other hand wasn't really affected as far as I can tell.
 
thomsax

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,528
Locality
Sweden
Covid changed me!. I can read an play by ear/memory the songs I did before covid. But I have difficulties to understand why I should get back to the sax. We didn't had a lockdown in Sweden but we lived as we had a locktown. Some music friends passed away and other persons that I used to see. I use to play blues but now I have the blues. So why play it.
 
Jimmymack

Jimmymack

Senior Member
Messages
1,174
Locality
London
If you have blues then that’s just when you should be playing the blues, that’s what it’s for, get back to playing to affirm life.
 
Last edited:
LostCircuits

LostCircuits

Member
Messages
761
Locality
Black Forest
Covid changed me!. I can read an play by ear/memory the songs I did before covid. But I have difficulties to understand why I should get back to the sax. We didn't had a lockdown in Sweden but we lived as we had a locktown. Some music friends passed away and other persons that I used to see. I use to play blues but now I have the blues. So why play it.
Isn't that the best predisposition for playing blues? I mean, I hear all these folks playing "happy blues", turning "the thrill is gone" into happy face music for people to exercise their dance moves and all I can think is that I am glad that BB King isn't there. Get playing again, find some new friends and instill them with the depth of your new blues!
 
JamesOxford

JamesOxford

Member
Messages
307
Locality
Oxford, UK
No better time to play the blues that when your emotions can inform your playing.
For certain, these times will pass, and could be the opportunity to come out a stronger player.

I wish you all the best and hope you are feeling better soon.
 
J

john in fla

New Member
Messages
29
Locality
florida usa
I know this is an old thread but I just found it. I play almost exclusively by ear Sometimes I'll look at the sheet music if it's available just to to figure out a particular phrase if it's hard to hear. I can't read fast enough to play an entire song from the dots. Two things that probably hinder my progress using this method are that : 1, as I hunt and peck I am forced to weed out all the wrong notes making the right notes harder to remember. The other thing is my attention span. One day I'll have "Harlem Nocturne" in my head so I'll figure that out. Two days later I have "Two Sleepy People" in my head so I'll work on that without ever getting Harlem Nocturne down pat. I'm a living room musician and my audience consists of three cats.
 
Jimmymack

Jimmymack

Senior Member
Messages
1,174
Locality
London
How do you keep the cats in the room, mine used to run away as soon as the horn came out of the case? You must have a special technique.
 

Similar threads (maybe)

Popular Discussions

Top Bottom