All Songs Sound the Same (SONG RUDIMENTS)

Have you ever noticed how many songs seem to sound the same? A lot of songs will often share similar chord movements, they’ll share nearly the same structure and they will often share the same scales. It’s extremely common to find this happen in music, especially in popular music. But why is this - and what can we learn from it?

In order for you to gain the necessary skills to learn songs by ear, it is important to be able to understand what to listen for. In this lesson, I’m going to focus on three areas that you need to start getting really tuned into.

These areas include; chords, scales and rhythm. Once you can learn to notice the ways that each of these musical ideas are used in popular music, you’ll find it a lot easier to learn songs by ear and you’ll be able to learn songs by ear much faster too.


For most guitar players, one of the first things that we tend to focus in on are the chords in a song. Guitar players like to know what the chords are as quickly as we can, because that way we can back up singers, play with other instruments, and just plain old understand where the song is going, (especially if there’s singing involved).

So, you’ve got to understand that most songs operate around very similar group of chord movements. These will include; the “I-IV-V,” the “I-VI-IV-V,” and the “I-III-VI-IV-V.” Play through each of these in the key of “C Major” for you, so that you can hear what they sound like…

The “I-IV-V

The “I-VI-IV-V


The "IV-Chord," often swaps out with the "II-Chord"

Another important area to understand is the way that’s used to create melody. Scales are the key to learning about this topic, and the most popular scale for building melodic ideas and also for making up the riffs that we hear in popular music are the Major and Minor Pentatonic Scale.

Now, those two are really the same thing, and if you want to understand more about these scales, watch my YouTube lessons titled “The Frying Pan Shape,” (Guitars Most Important Pattern) and the “Tooth-Brush Shape,” (Guitars OTHER Most Important Pattern).

To help you better comprehend this in a real world sense, I want to introduce you to a collection of riffs from three songs that all use the Pentatonic.

My Girl
(by the Temptations)

Day Tripper
(by the Beatles)

Marie Laveau
(performed by Bobby Bare)

Even through each of these songs are from very different musical genres, they all share the same scale application to produce each melodic riff. And, as you might have guessed, each of these riffs apply the Pentatonic scale...

If you play these riffs back to back you'll relate to just how common this sound is in music. And, I’ll bet that the sound of these riffs will quite likely have you thinking of a lot more songs that are using this same - similar scale pattern. 

The final area that I want to cover is rhythm. And, this is a really important area because rhythm is the backbone of musical ideas.

Rhythm solidifies the beat, and it ties in the stylistic elements. So, when you learn the ability to quickly recognize the beat structure you’ll be able to get your rhythm guitar parts together in no time flat.

Let’s explore three primary beats that are critical to completely understand...

NOTE: All rhythms are performed using chord qualities built off of the root of “E.”

The steady 8th-note groove
(used in Rock, Folk and Country)

Funky 16th-note groove
(used in Funk, Soul and R+B music)

8th-note shuffle
(commonly used in Blues and Jazz)

After doing this work on chord changes, on scale and melody application, and on the common rhythmic grooves that are used in the most popular styles of music, I think that you’re now at the level of having a much more thorough understanding for what makes so many songs we hear sound so incredibly similar.

The chord movements for a vast amount of the music that we hear are all very common ones and they share many of the same movements through a key center.

The melody lines that we’re exposed to are almost all based within the Pentatonic Scales.

And, the rhythms that are most popular can generally fit within the boundaries of just a handful of beat structures.

So, if you learn this stuff, and most importantly – if you learn to recognize it (almost immediately upon hearing it), you’ll be able to figure out songs very quickly by ear and that means you’ll be playing them in no time flat.

As always, thanks for joining me, if you liked this lesson, please give it a thumbs up on YouTube and subscribe for more, (and remember to hit that bell when you subscribe so that you’ll never miss any of my uploads to YouTube)…

Until next time, take care and we'll catch up again on the next video. Bye for now!

I wanted to let you know about the guitar courses over on my website at

I’ve got step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses that work alongside of in-depth elective programs to form the best guitar course available.

The courses work to help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to that next level of guitar playing, in a very organized step-by-step way, that makes sense.

So, I look forward to helping you further at



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