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I was always wondering if there are any well experienced musicians in the world who can play on their instruments immediately what they hear, even if it is a complex piece of music or a fast guitar solo for example.. I personally have a good relative pitch and I keep training my ear everyday, I can recognize easily any interval (ascending or descending) also harmonic intervals. I can also sing any interval (ascending and descending). if I listen to a song I can quickly guess the key of a song and build the scale and figure out the chords in few seconds.. however what I struggle with sometimes is playing melody correctly, I have always to take few minutes to learn the whole melody of the song correctly and play it with no mistakes... sometimes if I hear a guitar lick which sounds common I can play it immediately even if it is super fast, however I can struggle with a slow melody sometimes, especially the songs that are in minor scale and then they switch to harmonic minor and then to melodic minor. is this normal for someone who has been playing guitar for 10 years ? btw I only started learning theory and doing ear training last 2 years

closed as primarily opinion-based by Tim H, Richard, user45266, Shevliaskovic, Dom May 23 at 1:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Mozart is famed for doing just that (not fast guitar solos!). Sure he isn't unique. – Tim Apr 19 at 15:56
  • oh okay, so it is not that easy and common to play immediately what you hear with no mistake – user58503 Apr 19 at 16:10
  • This is obviously the case, otherwise the world and his dog would be seen (and heard) doing it. But certainly it can be done, in varying degrees, and the more one does, the better one gets - like most things in life. – Tim Apr 19 at 16:15
  • did you try first to play it only mentally (analyzing) the tune? and then -also menatlly - transposing to the key you want to? I', sure it is a question of reflection and practice (that's what we call theory) ;) I have still this problem when I know quite well the tune but it is in a "strange" key. It helps to play first the scale and some cadences. – Albrecht Hügli Apr 19 at 17:08
  • oh yea! I do that sometimes, my fav key is A minor.. I still have to listen to the melody slow to play it correctly (from the first take).. I don't recognize intervals played so fast I need to sing them slow in my head then play them – user58503 Apr 19 at 17:23
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Yeah if you play by ear you should play along with, and jam, and improvise along whatever song you're listening to in realtime. I sometimes go to guitarcenter (or multiplayerpiano) and people are playing random songs and I play alongside them what they're playing even if its the first time I played that song because I know what it sounds like in my mind. The goal is to have the instrument be like whistling.

Try to play alongside random songs you listen to. Anything on youtube. And do this for different types of songs. The chords and melodies aren't hard for pop songs as they're usually diatonic and usually I IV V vi (sometimes ii and iii) take a look at some resources: one two three four five. The more songs you know and the more patterns you'll see the faster you get at doing it. I only learn songs by ear and I play the keyboard I found it easier than the guitar which I also played for some time, especially in regards to studying the theory of scales and chords.

I can give you my anecdotal story. but I started off playing relatively easy songs by ear and I did this for two years straight, a few hours each day, in addition to asking questions on this forum and getting more into theory. Pretty much the types of songs you'd hear on a musicbox like Happy Birthday or Amazing Grace but with more harmony. I would also transpose these songs to different keys. I found out that doing scales was not as effective as transposing simple songs to different keys. After doing many of these (over 100, I'd just write their names on a piece of paper above my keyboard) did I start being able to play new ones in realtime but that's because I was more practiced with the different scales and their sounds and relative chords. Now I mainly work on figuring out harder songs and more complex harmony but I don't think I would've been able to without practicing the easy songs.

A few tips:
1. Have a melody in mind but always start it off on a random note. That way you play all the different scales. Know what scale you're playing though so you can match up whatever diatonic chords come to mind.
2. Take easy songs (nursery rhymes and pop songs are best) and transpose them to different keys you start to get a feel for what the primary chords and especially their function sound like.
3. Slow down youtube videos to 50% playback speed when you're learning something.

But yeah, the more you practice the easier it gets. I still make mistakes but they're alot less than when I first started.

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