Tips on playing songs by ear We all depend on generous people on IGT for our tabs and notations ...... but these same people all figure them out by ear . Here are some useful tips to play songs by ear :- On the piano – 1. Become familiar with the keyboard and the notes . Chances are that you’ll be able to figure out the melody on your first try. 2. Always take out the lead or the melody of the tune first . It always helps to know your scales well , so that you can figured out the chords accompanying it. 3. Once you’ve figured out the lead and the melody , start with the chords , which are played by the left hand. 4. I’m hoping most of you know the chord progression I,IV,V . Whatever scale the piece is in , try its I, IV,V chords on specific parts of the melody .(it’s a little difficult to explain which are these parts......) Don’t straight away try the chords in a rhythm , or you’ll only end up getting frustrated . Now this bit will take some time. Once you get the hang of doing this , it’ll slowly become second nature. 5. Once you’ve done step 4 , you’ll realise that in some (or most) parts of the melody , none of the I,IV,V chords fit in it . (unless you’re lucky that the song is only made up of the I,IV,V chords , this will happen). In such cases , be patient . The note on which the specific part of the melody starts , will have 3 chords running through it . For example , the C note will be part of the CEG , ACE and FAC triads . Try the these 3 chords on the part of the melody and almost certainly , one of them will fit . Be patient . 6. Once you have finished steps 4 and 5 (which are undoubtedly , the most difficult steps) , break the chords in the left hand and start playing them in rhythm which complements the melody . (again , sort of difficult to explain what “rhythm” to use.....) If you’d like to keep the chords as a whole , without breaking them up, no problem at all . It only depends on how you want the song to sound like . -On the guitar (I still don’t have enough experience to properly explain what to do , but I’ll try ) 1. Become familiar with the fretboard and know your notes well . It will be much easier trying to figure out your melody/lead. 2. Now, try and catch your melody from any one string of the guitar , preferably the A-string. Later on, if you feel the melody is too low pitched , you can always play it an octave higher. 3. As I was saying , it’s easier using the A-string because you can directly use a barre chord to fit in with that specific part of the melody . For eg , if a part of the melody starts with A (the 12th fret one), then you can use the D barre chord (you yourself will have to figure out whether it will be the major or minor chord) to fit in with the melody . When playing the song , you can always use one of the other positions of D . Sometimes , you can use the 7th, the 5th and the 6th chords while connecting any two major or minor chords . It solely depends upon your listening skills to decide which “connecting” chords will sound good . 4. Now figure out a suitable strumming pattern to fit in with the song . 5. Now, if you are planning on playing the song alone (singing and chords) , then you are ready . Just make sure that when you’re figuring out the lead of the song , the notes which you are playing should match the range of your voice . Also , no need to fret about playing chords which do not match the pitch of your voice . It sounds fine even if your voice and the chord you’re playing aren’t on the same octave . 6. If you’re playing with another person (one will do the lead and the other will do the chords) , again , if the lead and the chords aren’t on the same octave , no need to worry . As long as they match when played on the same octave , they’re fine . I’m sorry if some of the points given (especially in the guitar) are a little vague . In the end , as I said before , it all comes down to how well you can interpret the notes in the song . Please write in your comments if I’ve missed out anything (which I guaranty I have) . Btw , I’ve written this by myself with personal experience ,without any help from other websites . Thanks for reading this !