What is Hear Theory?

Hi, I’m Nathaniel Flick, bassist (among other things) and composer/producer. I’ve played in cover bands since I was 15 (more than thirty years ago, now!) and even before that I was playing by ear, but I didn’t know it at the time.

I played clarinet in music class when I was 10, and I thought I was reading the music but I was playing it from memory and the notes were just there to keep me on track. I still remember that song!

Over the years I’ve realised I’ve built up a few skills I want to share:

  • Tell me te key, tempo and style of the song and I can play it, even if I have only heard it once before
  • I can guess keys of songs using my voice, my lowest singing note is D (unless I have a cold and then it’s low C!) so I try that note first since I know it really well
  • When I was a kid I’d spend hours listening to music and I’d focus on each part individually, right down to the shaker and all the background parts that you don’t normally hear; start with the bass drum and work up
  • I can sometimes guess the frequency of feedback, and kill it on vocal mics (usually 2500Hz is the culprit, but not always)

I’m now fascinated with how everything has a resonant frequency.

All these things I’m going to investigate and share here, and I want the discussion on this to grow. Special thanks to TalkBass.com forum for giving me some valuable feedback on all of this! And welcome to Hear Theory. Check out the Videos page for examples every week, and leave me comments on what you want to see.

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