Play Melodies by Ear Using the Scale | Hub Guitar

Play Melodies by Ear Using the Scale

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Hi. This is Hub Guitar.

I just got off the phone with my lawyer, who told me that unless I want the the chair sued out from under me, I'm going to have to use Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to teach you how to play melodies and other music by ear.

You're probably going to need to use your voice to do any of this work. You need a way to connect mentally to the music you're trying to play.

I'm hoping you can recall the melody to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Most people can.

First I'm going to sing the melody.

Now I'm going to find it on the guitar. In this case I know it fits in the C major scale because I sang it in the key of C major. If you try to do this with a random melody, you might need to determine the key first, which will help you figure out what scale to use to play it.

This process is simple. The key is to pick a tune that sounds easy. Then figure out what the key is, then play the scale associated with the key. From there you should be able to hum the notes to yourself and find them on the guitar. Take your time!


For this example, we’re going to play “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star”, or “The ABC Song”, which share the same melody. This melody may not be your favorite, but it’s best to use a melody everybody knows. We’ve found that this melody and the “Happy Birthday” melody have almost universal recognition in every country on the world.

If you’re not sure how you would figure out this melody, this lesson is for you. If you can already figure out a simple melody like this by ear, you can skip this lesson.

Take a moment to sing the song to yourself.

Audio Example

Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star … how I wonder what you are …
Up above the sky so high … like a diamond in the sky …
Twinkle, twinkle, little star … how I wonder what you are

This short song has 42 notes in total. How can you figure them all out?

Finding a Pattern

Thankfully, they are not 42 random notes. They have a pretty strong relationship.

Knowing that, it should be fairly easy to learn the notes.

Figuring Out the Melody

Musicians like to make things easier on themselves. Before figuring out a melody, they’ll try to figure out what keyThe set of pitches that a piece of music is organized around. A key has two components: a tonal center and some sort of scale, or set of pitches used for creating harmony and melody. it’s in. This means the major scale that is used to play most (or all) notes.

In this case, we can decide the key because we’re singing it. Let’s choose C major.

Steps for learning melody

  • Figure out the key (C major)
  • Review the major scale used for the key (C Major Scale)
  • Find the first note of the melody by humming (Ist fret of “B” string)
  • For each of the next notes, hum them, and find them within the scale.
  • If you’re losing track, write down the notes.

Key Task

Using these steps, figure out all of the notes in the melody for “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star”. If you have trouble, don’t get discouraged. You may want to come back to this lesson later, after learning more fretboard and technique lessons.

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