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I really, really wanna play this song:

but it's so unknown that I can't find any tutorials to the chord or even what strings are being played, and I'm a complete beginner when it comes to figuring out songs by ear. I'd also like to be able to play it on piano, but I guess learning a guitar-based song on piano is even harder. Are there any computer programs I can put it through to figure out the song? Or if someone could help me figure it out that'd be great too.

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    @Tim why isn't it in line with the help centre? – topo Reinstate Monica Feb 20 '19 at 8:58
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    @Tim Maybe, but the question says "How do I figure out this song by ear", and asks "Or if someone could help me figure it out" - so to me it seems that there's a route there to view the question in a positive way as a request for help with technique. If there are aspects to the question that are off-topic let's be super-clear when pointing those out to a new user, so that they can fix it. If this question really does get closed as "too broad", that would be a bit mad IMO - we surely must be able to give some tips on how to figure out simple songs. – topo Reinstate Monica Feb 20 '19 at 9:24
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    @topomorto - to me the way it's worded is 'help me to play this specific song', and 'help me find a program that will do it for me'. There are plenty of questions asking for methods of transcribing, and ideas for doing so, that are not song-specific. This is, and I'm guessing it's more about 'tell me what to play' than' give me some ideas'. +1 for your answer. – Tim Feb 20 '19 at 9:34
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    Even the bit about finding a program could be seen as "describing the required function and setting in which the equipment will be used, and asking for what to look for to achieve that" - which is on-topic according to our close reasons. I don't mean to direct my thoughts at you in particular - after all, you're the only one who has bothered to try to help the OP with suggestions on how to tweak the question - but I worry a bit if we can't respond helpfully to a question like this. – topo Reinstate Monica Feb 20 '19 at 12:24
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    the part about 'computer programs' makes for a good question. it certainly is no more a duplicate than the endless questions about modes and minor key harmony – Michael Curtis Feb 20 '19 at 22:05
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This actually seems like a nice simple song as a starting point to learning to figure out songs by ear.

  • Work out what chord the song "centres around" - I would say it's D major, so let's start by assuming it's in D major.

  • Learn the chords that are diatonic to D major (Google chords diatonic to D major or just chords in D major if you don't know what I mean!)

  • Listen through the song, trying to follow the bass note. You might find this easier to do in the 'rockier' section of the song, starting after 0:45 ish. Then relate the bass note to the diatonic chord based on that note - e.g. if you hear G as the bass note, the chord is probably G major.

Those simple rules won't help much with some songs, but with this one, I think they'll get you most of the way there.

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I want to read your question as "How do I figure out this song by ear if I'm a complete beginner" ... but I don't want to stay a complete beginner.

I also read "figure out" as in, understanding at least something. If you read a tab or watch a Synthesia animation and are able to press the buttons that the video instructs you to, that doesn't count as figuring out anything. :)

Start by forgetting about guitar and piano, and the exact picking patterns and voicings used in the song. That's not the song. A song is melody and chords. I assume that the melody is not a problem, you can sing that already. So we'll focus on hearing and playing chords by ear.

Learn how to play the following basic triad chords:

  • D ("D major") : notes D-F#-A
  • G ("G major") : notes G-B-D
  • A ("A major") : notes A-C#-E
  • Bm ("B minor") : notes B-D-F#
  • Em ("E minor") : notes E-G-B

Then try to play and sing the song, accompanying yourself using those five chords. Don't care if it doesn't sound exactly like you want. Assume that you're doing an accordion version of the song. No strings, no plink plonk sounds, only chords.

I made a play-by-ear practice video for you. Listen to the chords and play what you hear. It's not exactly the song you want, but it contains things that will be useful when you get there.

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I think @topomorto has given you to helping hand you need with this specific song.

But, your original question...

How do I figure out this song by ear if I'm a complete beginner?

...should really be...

How do I figure out songs generally by ear if I'm a complete beginner?

The difference is between hoping someone at this site will just transcribe the song for you versus getting advice for how you eventually can do it yourself.

If you want to go beyond this one song, you should pursue ear training.

There are many resource available for practice including mobile apps that can do aural testing - meaning you can sing or play to the app and it will test if you get the right notes.

I understand how you really want this song right now, but I hope you will pursue the ear training, because eventually you will encounter another song with no available sheet music and a well trained ear will help you figure out the music.

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This song is in a different tuning than standard E-A-D-G-B-E.

Tune your guitar to D-A-D-G-A-D tuning.

The beginning is really enjoyable to play. Fret the G string on the 4th fret and pluck the bottom three strings in a 3-2-1-2 string pattern. Play that twice, then move to the 6th fret on the G string and play the same 3-2-1-2 string pattern once. Then take your finger off the G string entirely and again play the 3-2-1-2 pattern, 3 times. Finally, fret the G string on the 2nd fret and play the 3-2-1-2 pattern once more.

That's a good start. Hint: you'll alternate between this picking pattern and a pattern that involves the middle "D" string, played at the 4th fret in a 4-2-1-2 pattern.

I've never heard this song until tonight. Thank you for turning me on to it. I love it.

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  • I’ve found the same solution but I mixed the tunes (my advice with the capo was wrong!)it was too late last night and the pc was shut down. Edited now. – Albrecht Hügli Feb 20 '19 at 4:40
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    Why would DADGAD be any better than DGCFAD (all down a tone), or even standard tuning? Guitar plays no low open Ds. – Tim Feb 20 '19 at 8:35
  • You're right, Tim, the low D isn't necessary, and DADGAD isn't a requirement at all. Tuning the entire guitar down a full step will accomplish the same thing. Probably a cleaner approach, as it gives the OP the ability to learn and play the song with more familiar chord fingerings. (But oh how that low D really gives the finale of the song some uuumph!). Cheers. And good luck, Rusty! – Dan Feb 20 '19 at 12:22
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I really, really wanna play this song: but it's so unknown that I can't find any tutorials to the chord or even what strings are being played, and I'm a complete beginner when it comes to figuring out songs by ear.

The problem of absolute beginners is that they always have a fixed idea what they want to play and what to learn. And they waste a lot of time for searching the one title without finding it at the end. And in this time they missed to practice from stage and sequence what would have brought a lot of benefit that they wouldn’t finally need to look for the ultimate song.

Do you know that you can look for chords and tabs? If you like this band “future idiots” why not try to study the available titles till the one you’re looking for will be released or published? https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/artist/future_idiots_35837

I'd also like to be able to play it on piano, but I guess learning a guitar-based song on piano is even harder. Are there any computer programs I can put it through to figure out the song?

Yes, there are programs like Midi sequencers, but to learn their aplication you would need again so much time that you’d better practice your guitar and piano until the midi file will be uploaded.

My advice:

  • tune the guitar (each string) a whole tone lower

  • try to accompany the three 8th notes after the first beat: *ada,*ada etc on the 2 highest strings (b and e) in the 5 bend, they are all the same.

  • try to identify the tone on the beat 1 and

  • try to play them together

  • practice the same thing on the piano with the right hand

  • try to find out the bass line for the left hand

Or if someone could help me figure it out that'd be great too.

Yes, I could. But this would be as I gave you a fish instead of teaching you how fishing.

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