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Hearing the Changes

Knowing what the chords of a song or chord progressions are and when the when the change.

PUBLISHED: Jan 2, 2005 UPDATED: May 22, 2020 • VIEWS: 80 • LESSON CODE: UL127

Instruments: ukulele Subjects: progressionsintermediateadvancedchordsrepertoire

Hearing the Changes

Hearing The Changes are knowing what the chords of a song or chord progressions are and when they change. This lesson gets you on the road to developing this ability.

This involves know the chords of the keys and scales that are used for common progressions and songs. And the ability to recognize the sound of intervals, the distance between intervals.

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Here Are The First Steps To Learning To "Hearing the Changes"

Hearing and figuring out the chords to a song takes the same skills as transcribing a song. It's limited to the chords of the song. You might be doing it in real-time as the song you are playing or listening to the song.

Without some of the skills mentioned above it's often a hit or miss, hunt and peck method of figuring out what the chord changes are to a song.

Learning a bit or a lot of the Principles of Music can go a long way in understand how chords and chord progressions move and interact together. There is actually a lot in common between songs.

Here are some tips for figuring out the chords:

After finding where the chord changes. Locate the bass or root of the first chord.

Root Voicings

If the song is simple then start checking to see if the chord is a maj, minor, 7th or power 5 chord. Maybe a sus4, sus2 or add 2, add 9 chord.

If it a more sophisticated rich harmony, a.k.a. chords. Then try maj7, m7, 7, dim7, aug7, etc...

With each success - on to the next chord.

Note: Sometimes it is easier to figure this out on piano that the ukulele or guitar. You don't need piano technique - know how to make simple chords and know the names of the piano keys. Pretty easy.

Bass Voicings

If not quite right, but seems like the right chord based on the root. It might be a bass boicing or slash chord. I C is the bass try C/D, C/E, Cm/F, C/G, Cm/G, C/Bb, C/B. If this fails and it could be any bass note with C as the name of the chord.

Cliche, Common Progressions with Distinct Bass Lines

Here are some examples of this type of progressions.

  • Cm Cm/maj7 Cm7 Cm6 ( Cm Cm/B Cm/Bb Cm/A)

    This progression is commonly notated wrong. You'll hear it after you become more familiar with the correct notation.

  • C Cm7+5 Cm6 Cm7aug5

    I call this the Secret Agent sound. Typically supports the melody. Witchcraft is a jazz standard that has the movement.

  • Cmaj7 Caug C6 Cmaj7 or C Caug C6 Caug C

Check out Jim D'Ville's Play Ukulele by EarThree Chord Club for lots of examples of simple songs we already know that you can learn by ear.

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Hearing the Changes at this time.

Basic `Ukulele Chord Fingering • Updated: Nov 15, 2019

The art and science of chord fingering. Learning your basic open position chords in common keys.

We have four fingers and there're all not equal. Some shorter then others and some stronger that others. Everybody's hand is a little different. This does play a role in fingering chords. A example shows up with the first chord we will cover, a C major chord. It is a one finger chord. That one finger can be anyone of your four fingers.

Key Signatures - Introduction • Updated: Feb 12, 0202

A key signature is a summary of the sharps or flats in a Major or its relative Natural Minor scale. Key signatures are generally written immediately after the clef at the beginning of a line of standard musical notation. Each major and minor key has an associated key signature that sharpens or flattens the notes which are used in its scale.

Understanding Chromatic Intervals • Updated: Dec 14, 2018

An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has a name and a type. Chromatic Intervals are NOT taken from a major scale. They are derived from the diatonic intervals.

Understanding Diatonic Intervals • Updated: Dec 9, 2011

An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has a name and a type. Intervals can be played one note (melodic) or two notes (harmonic) at a time, ascending or descending.

Simple and Compound Intervals are taken from a major scale.

Chromatic Intervals are NOT taken from a major scale. They are derived from the diatonic intervals.

Understanding Interval Inversion • Updated: Jul 2, 2015

Inverting intervals using the Rule of Nine. An interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has a name and a type. Intervals can be played one note (melodic) or two notes (harmonic) at a time, ascending or descending.

Related Books

Related Books for Hearing the Changes at this time.

Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution
Updated: Feb 7, 2019

Harmonic Analysis is the understanding of the functional sequence of chords.

Modular Phonetic Rhythm, The Foundation and Workbook 1
Updated: Nov 9, 2015

Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant advance in the teaching and application of rhythm.

Related Songs

Related Songs for Hearing the Changes at this time.

A Child is Born
Updated: Feb 21, 2016

A jazz ballad. It was written in 1969 by the jazz trumpeter Thad Jones and Alec Wilder and has since become a jazz standard.

Beer Barrel Polka
Updated: Oct 1, 2011

Also known as Roll Out the Barrel, is a song which became popular worldwide during World War II.

Autumn Leaves
Updated: Dec 27, 2017

Originally it was a 1945 French song "Les Feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves").

All My Loving
Updated: Dec 9, 2019

Written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and from the 1963 album With The Beatles.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Hearing the Changes at this time.

Chord Switching, Barre Drills for Ukulele
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

The ability to place a single finger across more than one string, a “barre” is an essential technique for chords as well single notes and double stops.

BOGUS Lesson Series for tEstInG
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

The BOGUS Lesson Series for tEstInG is just what it is for - testing.

Blues Chord Progressions
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

From A to Z - These are the 26 blues chord progressions, extracted from my book Blues Chord Progressions for Ukulele from A to Z for use with on-line and private students.

Building Your Core Strums for Ukulele
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

Rhythm are in-separately linked to strums. Using the Modular Phonetic Rhythm System developed by Chuck Anderson this series of lessons start with the core four strums all ukulele players use and throughly digs in to the many variations possible.

Basic Ukulele Chords Charts
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

Not so much a series - but the basic chords ALL ukulele players should know.

Common Chord Progressions and Remembering Songs
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

Learning the similarities between chord progressions and songs helps you remember a lot of songs. There's a lot more in common between songs than one might think.

Basic Lessons for Getting Started with Ukulele
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

These are the ukulele lessons that every ukulele player just starting out a bit seasoned should take a look at.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

Related Assets for Hearing the Changes at this time.

A to Z Blues Progressions for Ukulele - Example C
Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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