Figuring out Songs
Transcript Figuring out Songs
Figuring out Songs
Figuring Out Happy Birthday
• For any song the key is to have a process and
then follow that process. I always first start with
the time signature. Some people start with the
chords and then go to the melody others with the
melody and work out the chords.
• So following is my process. While you can use a
different process it is best to find what works for
you and then go from there.
• I first listen to the tune many times. I used to make a
tape and listen to it that way. Put a ½ dozen copies of
the song etc. Now I use a CD burner and can just put
the player on loop mode. I can’t stress that this is the
most important step of all no matter what process you
• While listening I ask many questions.
What is the time signature?
Does the time signature ever change in the song?
Where do the chords change?
How many measures is each section?
I image the chord changes.
I picture the shape of the melody line.
What is the form of the piece? Are there repeated sections?
How does the introduction and ending fit into the piece?
Then the Bass Line
• I find the key – usually the last chord of the song will tell me the key,
but it may be the first chord.
• I usually go on from there to figure out the bass part. Not every note
but the general movement. I do this with or without the recording.
• From there I work out the chords. Sometimes to do this I must go
back and listen, listen, listen. The bass tells me the roots, from
there I decide on the type of chord: major, minor, dominant 7,
diminished or augmented, and any extensions to it such as 9ths,
11ths, and suspensions.
• I work it like a jigsaw puzzle. I find as much of it as I can from the
start and then go back and fill in the wholes. Start and finish are
similar to the corners and edges of a jigsaw puzzle.
• I always write the chords down on paper. Usually music or tab
• Once I feel that I have them, I go back and play along with the CD!!
This is to really check myself.
Then the melody
• Remember the chords rule in western music!!
• The chords (or harmony) usually lead you to the melody.
• Most melodies make heavy use of the notes in the
• The other group of most used notes are the ones in the
• Start with these. Get the first note. Now is the 2nd note
higher or lower, how much? Is it an interval that you
have heard before? Does it go to another note in the
chord? Is it just up or down the scale? All of these
questions are asked.
• Again I figure it out like a jigsaw puzzle. Many times I
find myself getting most of it and having to come back to
it another day to finish it off.
The Hooks or Solo Sections
• Any hooks must be figured out just as the
melody to the song must be figured out!!!
• Use the same techniques as suggested
• Now work on Happy Birthday.