Complicated chord progressions.

JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
For someone who has been playing guitar for over 50 years I am not a natural musician. When I learn a piece I have to keep playing it or I lose it. I can't always hear a tune in my head, hence the reason I prefer to play with other musicians, even if it is just backing tracks.
My question is, how do I go about learning complex chord progressions? At the moment I am working on learning Doolin Dalton, by The Eagles, which though it has some repeating pattern, confuses things by using a Major chord one time and a Minor another. It also mixes and matches parts of the patterns. I always know when to change chord, just not always where I an going. I can play the piece no bother, with the music or chord sheet in front of me, but quickly get lost without a guide.
How do you guys recommend I go about learning this piece? I am using genuine Eagles sheet music, not something I downloaded off the internet.
https://youtube.com/watch?v=pVSBqCuco1s
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Comments

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    Take it no one has any good tips then?
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,312Member
    I couldn't help on that one Jocko, though I did see your question.

    I can't remember the chords to any song! Except possibly one with only one chord.

    Sorry! :(
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    I'm getting there, with repeated practise of sections, then gradually joining them together. There are something like 12 separate chords and 78 changes to remember.
    My 70 year old brain struggles trying to remember to fasten my zip and where I parked the car. Learning all these changes is quantum maths for me!
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    Finally managed "Doolin Dalton". Trouble is, in a weeks time I will have forgotten it. I'll be lucky if I can remember what key it is in!
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,312Member
    I am very envious of players with good memory for these things.

    Around 10 years ago when they did a Barrowlands concert that got filmed on DVD Christy Moore and Declan Sinnott had more than 300 possible songs they might play of an evening depending audience requests and how they felt or the mood of the evening. At that point they were 63 (my age) and 58. I can't remember even one song.
  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,684Member
    I don't think I could remember 12 chords and 78 changes in one song - I struggle with three chords and just 6 changes. That said, I guess repetition is the answer. When I learn a finger picking piece I learn it a note at a time, and it can take months - even years - but it does stick after one's played it countless thousands of times.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,618Member, Moderator
    edited August 27
    Jocko, how about taking a song like Doolin' Dalton that you have learned and playing it without any music or chords in front of you? If you need the lyrics, by all means use them. When you cannot remember a particular chord, try the chords in the key and, so long as you remember the melody well enough, you should be able to find a couple of chords that work. Using your ears as well as your memory will build up an ability that will serve you well in other songs, too.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    Lester said:

    Jocko, how about taking a song like Doolin' Dalton that you have learned and playing it without any music or chords in front of you?

    That's what I try to do. It is getting to that stage which is the issue. Doolin Dalton has so many nuanced chords which make it sound so good. I could play it with just the basic chords but it loses a lot in the translation!
    I have got it committed to memory so it is just a case of playing it often enough not to forget it.
    Time to start on something else!

  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 891Member
    In jazz you can memorise long sequences by breaking it down into sections, then labelling each section and remembering the pattern (AABA is a common on). If a piece uses circles of fourths you just have to remember what key it starts on.
    You could also try mnemonics - break it into sections and name each section, then use a mnemonic to memorise which order they go in. That’s what I do with long pieces.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    The problem with Doolin Dalton is, though it uses recurring patterns, it uses a major chord one time a minor the next. Sometimes it uses a minor then a minor seventh. Next time it uses a slightly different ending to the sequence. I have managed to get there by breaking it down into sections and repeatedly playing them until I got it into my addled brain. Great to hear how other musicians cope (other than playing from the music or a chord sheet).
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 893Member
    For me I have to sing it in my head (wrong words don't matter - it's the sequence that counts). That way the thing falls into place. when playing with others/along to the track thier parts give the ques.
    For live gigs I try not to use crib sheets (but thats not exclusive by any stretch of the imagination), But I do have the set list printed with the title, artist, lead singer in our band (if there are multiples) and the Key of the song. Beware sometimes the key and the first chord(s) are not the same so a memo beside also helps.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    Because I am a bedroom musician, I use Karaoke Versions tracks, with the instrument I want to play removed. This helps no end. Sometimes I just practise by myself and then I too try and sing along. Unfortunately, the key that suits my singing voice has not yet been invented! Even the cats leave in disgust when I try singing.
    I use Reaper as my DAW of choice and I use the key as past of the track title, so it will say, "Lyin Eyes Key G"
  • Just TelJust Tel Posts: 509Member
    Jocko said:

    Unfortunately, the key that suits my singing voice has not yet been invented! Even the cats leave in disgust when I try singing.

    Have you tried using a key changer/pitch shifter program? A friend of mine who is a pro solo hotel singer gets his backing tracks online and changes the key to suit his voice.

  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 893Member
    Good shout on the key change, it adds to your versatility and chord knowledge. Try playing the song using different inversions/shapes too, it makes you think of the chord name and where else you might play it nearby, over time this makes you a better player.
    Many songs sound best in original keys but remember producers used to push a singer hard at the top of thier range to get that 'sweet' husky quality or to get the best from the 'horns'in Bb or whatever. The artists often lowered the key live if they sang the same song night after night (we're talking classic pop and soul here).
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    Just Tel said:

    Jocko said:

    Unfortunately, the key that suits my singing voice has not yet been invented! Even the cats leave in disgust when I try singing.

    Have you tried using a key changer/pitch shifter program? A friend of mine who is a pro solo hotel singer gets his backing tracks online and changes the key to suit his voice.

    I would need a pitch shifter that shifted the pitch as I was singing. My voice is that bad. I just have to face it. I can't sing!
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    ESBlonde said:

    Good shout on the key change, it adds to your versatility and chord knowledge. Try playing the song using different inversions/shapes too, it makes you think of the chord name and where else you might play it nearby, over time this makes you a better player.

    Because most of the time I am playing with the original recording, or a backing track, I play in the original key. I love mixing and matching chord shapes. I tend to use barré chords for most of my playing, but throw in the odd "cowboy" chords as it suits the music. Obviously, sometimes it is all open chords, but I do love playing full barré chords or parts of them.

  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    I've found the best way to do complicated chord progressions is to simplify the chords. Play triads on top three or bottom three strings. The effect is the same but without the physical effort.

    With complexity something has to give.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator

    I've found the best way to do complicated chord progressions is to simplify the chords. Play triads on top three or bottom three strings. The effect is the same but without the physical effort.

    With complexity something has to give.

    I understand what you are saying, but Triad or full chord, I still have to know what I am playing. Whether it is a C# or a C#m, A or A7. It is remembering the chord not what shape the chord is. Give me any relatively common chord and I can finger it immediately, either as a Triad or a full chord. Knowing what chord comes next is what I have difficulty remembering.

    A A/G# F#m A F#m A A7 D F#m B D A E
    F#m A F#m A A7 D F#m B D A C#
    F#m A C# F#m A A7 D F#m B D A C#m
    F#m A C#m F#m A A7 D F#m B D A
    C#m A D C#m Bm F#m A Em7 A7 D C#m Bm E C#
    F#m A F#m A A7 D F#m B E A E F#m
    A7 D C#m Bm E D F#


    That is the sequence I have to learn!


  • Screaming DaveScreaming Dave Posts: 779Member
    My only comment is that sheet music for rock songs can be misleading. My understanding is that the process starts with a piano player listening to the song off the record who writes the piano score. This will have an approximation to the bass notes, keyboards, guitars etc. all within a piano score. they then pass this to a guitarist who works out the chords from the written score, but of course he's then adding other elements of the music into the guitar chords, which is why Beatles song books often have such finger-breaking chords and added notes, to account for Paul McCartney's brilliantly innovative bass lines.

    What I'm saying is that I think guitar tab from a reputable source might be a better bet than sheet music to get the guitar "correct" as played on the record.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator

    My only comment is that sheet music for rock songs can be misleading. My understanding is that the process starts with a piano player listening to the song off the record who writes the piano score. This will have an approximation to the bass notes, keyboards, guitars etc. all within a piano score. they then pass this to a guitarist who works out the chords from the written score, but of course he's then adding other elements of the music into the guitar chords, which is why Beatles song books often have such finger-breaking chords and added notes, to account for Paul McCartney's brilliantly innovative bass lines.

    What I'm saying is that I think guitar tab from a reputable source might be a better bet than sheet music to get the guitar "correct" as played on the record.

    Lots of Tab on the internet is absolute Cr*p, so you have to be careful.
    I find myself changing chords, or adding extra chords, as I listen to the music.
    As I said earlier, I use tracks from Karaoke Versions. I load up all the individual instruments into Reaper v5.941 and use that as my mixing desk. I solo the rhythm guitar and listen to what he plays and adjust my score to match.
    Talking about the Beatles. I have "The Beatles Complete Scores", which give you everything. All the orchestral parts, drums, tympani, as well as guitar, bass and vocals. It is superbly accurate.
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beatles-Complete-Scores-Transcribed-Score/dp/0793518326/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535711491&sr=8-1&keywords=the+beatles+complete+scores
    Just a pity it is in such small format. You need a magnifying glass to read some of it!

  • Screaming DaveScreaming Dave Posts: 779Member
    I agree a lot of tab is pants. You have to be careful where you get it from and, as you say, use your ears. I've seen people on YouTube giving tutorials on how to play things and it's clearly not how it was originally played. U2's Vertigo is a case in point. That's the trouble with t'internet - anyone can post anything. And you can't switch it off.

    My Beatles complete is the piano and guitar chords version and that's where the trouble starts!
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,088Member
    edited September 1
    Best go for a YouTube cover first then look for a link to the tabs. The essence of a chord progression can be met without actually playing it accurately. Use your ears rather than your eyes.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator

    Use your ears rather than your eyes.

    Fine, as long as you are not tone deaf, like me!

  • LesterLester Posts: 1,618Member, Moderator
    If you are tone deaf then it won't matter one bit what chords you play as you won't hear whether they do or don't fit the song. I suspect you are not as tone deaf as you think, Jocko, so don't put yourself down and believe that the more you try to sing in tune the better you will get.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    Hi, Lester. I know I am not "tone deaf" in literal terms. I can hear chord changes and know when the chord I play isn't correct. I just struggle to find the correct chord, especially when the change is in the bass.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,618Member, Moderator
    If I was in your position I might play with putting the audio in my DAW (yours is Reaper, IIRC) and EQ it so that all except the bass is relatively quieter so that I had a better chance of hearing what I struggle to hear normally.

    I am constantly surprising myself by noticing things I had not heard before, eg. my wife can hear all four standard voice parts - soprano, alto, tenor, bass - while I just hear a lot of noise but I can normally hear which drums or cymbals are being hit or which guitar effects are being used (if they are effects I have and use).
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    I love Reaper and Karaoke Versions because it allows me to listen to each instrument, or voice, in exclusion. As a rhythm player, I pull out the principal rhythm guitar (often there is more than one), and see just what it is playing. I also pay particular attention to the bass (I was a bass player once), and see how the two marry together.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    I am finding that the more I learn new stuff, the easier it gets to retain it. Now I am playing 2 or 3 hours a day I need to learn a new piece every week, just to keep me going.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,006Member, Moderator
    Working on "Desperado" at the moment. Got it pretty well sussed, G9 and Cm6 included. Where I do slip up is the odd Em7 instead of Em or the one D/F# that appears in one Bridge section and not the other. Neither is noticeable to the casual listener, but it annoys the hell out of me when I get it wrong.
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 893Member
    Just for context on this remembering thread (apologies for the hijack Jocko). Last night the funk band were round the drummists house for trial of some new material, testing keys and making sure chords don't clash etc. All very casual and low(ish) volume with practice amps rather than waste paid studio time learing it wrong and having to iron out the changes.
    Start with a takeaway and a cup of tea obviously, and then we did the 4 songs. At the end of the session (about 1.5 Hrs) we went to run through the first song again. It's like a lot of these things quite repetative. Anyway our very experienced singer and I both had a complete blank moment, neither of us could recall the song or what we had done. After a brief listen to the original it came back to me because I have little to do, but the singer remained in a blank daze.
    Just in case anyone gives a monkeys, the song was 'I need your lovin' - Teena Marie
    So sometimes even the simplist guitar parts (that picked single note motief) can be hard to remember.
    One of the hardest things I had to remember in recent years was a montage of three modern pop funk tunes which we segued together and they were each fairly unmemorable. Just for good measure the guitar led over a drum beat from one song to the next, they were quite similar and only a semitone different from Am to Bb and bank to A again.
    If you are still playing along try:
    Lady Am (Moloko)
    Groove Jet Bb (Sophie Ellis Bexter)
    Sing it back Am (Moloko)
    Not only tedious, but you have to have the next tedious guitar part in your head to start while the other one is in the last few bars. Arggghhhh!
    I'm glad to say we no longer do the three songs, it was quite boring but it was an interesting exercise. for the record I always got it right live, which was just short of a miracle.
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