Manic GuitarThrow Away the Tab and Figure it Out by Ear | Manic Guitar

Throw Away the Tab and Figure it Out by Ear

Ok, well maybe don’t actually throw it out, but you know what I mean. Tab can be great to learn a new song. Especially if you want to fast track the process. But if you want to learn your material in a way that will accelerate your development as a player the most, you need to be sitting down with the audio and figuring it out.

A good ear is necessary to become a good player. When you figure out a new track by ear rather than tab, you learn the song, but more importantly you develop your ear at the same time. It can be difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice.

A lot of more formal music training includes specific ear training methods. People learn to identify intervals, chord types, cadence types and progressions through practicing ear tests. Figuring a song out be ear with your guitar provides a more hands on approach to achieve a similar result. Additionally as your ear develops with this method, it will be more closely integrated with your playing than when learning from the more traditional ear tests.

A good ear will improve your song writing. As your writing a rhythm part you can often “hear” to yourself where it should be moving. Understanding the theory that is behind what you are doing will help a lot in moving to the next chord. When this is combined with a well developed ear, certain styles of chord progression can be quite easy to find spontaneously.

At the improvisational side of things, a good ear can develop you to the point that your coming out with melodic improve, without relying on a scale, or a position, you can just move to the note you want. It can become a very linear style rather than positional style where you cover large distances on the fret board on maybe 1 or 2 strings. Your ear will then also be able to easily find the right position for a scale you may be working with wherever you have ended up at the fret board when you want to move back into more familiar positional play.

Finally, a good ear will increase the range of things you can do while jamming with other musicians. The best jams are where people are coming out with new stuff, and the better your ear the quicker you will be onto what they are doing.

So, although it may be harder at first, and will be tempting to just grab the tab, in the end it will be well worth doing it this way.

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