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I know it's important to work out the chords when learning a song by ear (before checking that you've done all right in a print copy). How does one go about identifying them? I can do it by playing around on the sax for a bit, but I was wondering if there was a more methodical, time-efficient and accurate way to work it out.

Thanks!
 

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I teach this-

1. Learn the melody
2. Learn the form (AABA etc)
3. Learn the key (tonal centre) of each part of the form
4. Learn the 1st chord of each section of the form (this will often give you the previous chord)
5. Try to break each section into sub-sections and repeat for these smaller bits. (eg. break the B section into two 4 bar phrases)

The trick is knowing how dominants work-if a section starts on C Maj, then the previous chord is often G7 or Db7 (or various others).
In practical terms, try to get clues from the melody, bass lines (make them up), bebop phrases of anything off the recording you can hear-But visualize the form as thats the trick.

Jamie
 
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