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Transcribing Jazz Solos - Difficult Decisions

rhysonsax

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I'm still trying to use the lockdowns and isolating periods to transcribe some of my favourite saxophone solos. I have already asked for help about identifying the harmony (chord changes) and now I'm looking for guidance on a couple of other aspects that sometimes give me problems.

1. How best to notate when the soloists plays a section with very, very free time - for instance a solo cadenza or an introduction played solo. For instance, whether and where to include barlines and whether to include tempo markings or just state "freely" ?

2. When the performance has a strong feeling of 12/8 would you choose to notate it in 4/4 or 12/8 ?

I guess there are no rights and wrongs, but what would you prefer and why ?

Rhys
 

Pete Thomas

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2. When the performance has a strong feeling of 12/8 would you choose to notate it in 4/4 or 12/8 ?
12/8 only if the rhythm section is actually defining 12 beats somewhere (e.g. often on the hi hat). But if it's just a shuffle I'd still do 4/4 and give some indication the 1/8 notes are bounced.
 

Pete Effamy

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A cadenza is traditionally written in note values but not grouped into bars. If it's a long cadenza then it might be grouped into sections with some double bar lines. The word "Freely" is often used in jazz, and Rubato in classical.

IMO jazzers want to read in 4/4 and apply the feel/style. As Pete says, indicate the feel by "12/8 feel" or something else apt. That's how I feel about it, everything is written in a crotchet base. Exemption would be for things that couldn't really cope with shifting time - like the 6/8 - 3/4 of Bernstein's America.

Hence jazz notation being written in straight 8ths. The style of delivery can then be applied by the players with consideration of guidance such as:

Swing/Jazz/Shuffle;
12/8 Shuffle;
Latin/Rock

Even within styles there are variations of course between the ratio of swing 8ths. 2:1 commonly or 3:1 of some Blues - closer to a dotted 8th/16th.
 

Pete Effamy

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If I remember rightly back to my days in the pit (different to in't pit) much of the show Grease is written in 12/8 or 6/8.
 

rhysonsax

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Thanks guys, those points are very helpful.

The 4/4 or 12/8 issue arose from the two versions by Houston Person of "Since I Fell For You", one with a band and the other with just the majestic Ron Carter on bass.



I am currently doing the one with Ron Carter and it is rhythmically much more complex than I first thought. I notate it with Sibelius and I think it has a "Plug In" that will translate to and from 12/8, so maybe I can get both ways by working on just one.

Rhys
 

Pete Effamy

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It's a conundrum. The other version that people might well be familiar with is the Al Jarreau/Bob James/Dave Sanborn cut. Gadd (I presume) is playing with a 12/8 feel. Jarreau is very rubato and Sanborn's solo imo is in 4/4.

Being improvised renditions, the conversations about time would probably have been "is this tune in 2, 3, or 4? (Disregarding "special meter like 5, 7, 10).

So 4 crotchets per bar or 4 dotted crotchets per bar is still 4 beats per bar. It only needs decisions when you write it down.

View: https://youtu.be/cteZhwUNdnQ
 

Pete Effamy

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Moral of this story is: write a rough, working version for you to play and enjoy and publish the ones where theory follows sound.
 

Pete Effamy

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We used to do a version of Honky Cat by Elton John. The MD felt it as a half-time thing and wrote the horn arrangement accordingly. We were all used to it. There were occasional 'name' deps from the British Jazz scene and I don't think anyone got it right. With the off-beat stabs all over this tune, you can imagine what occurred. Most heard the tune as being "med-up" tempo and got completely lost.
 

rhysonsax

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We used to do a version of Honky Cat by Elton John. The MD felt it as a half-time thing and wrote the horn arrangement accordingly. We were all used to it. There were occasional 'name' deps from the British Jazz scene and I don't think anyone got it right. With the off-beat stabs all over this tune, you can imagine what occurred. Most heard the tune as being "med-up" tempo and got completely lost.

Great tune - I think I first heard it in about 1976 and really loved the horns - particularly that baritone sax. I tried to get our covers band to play it about five years ago, but the band folded soon after. The chart I have is in half time, but the horn parts aren't quite as the original recording.

Your version on Wogan was great - when was that ? It's good to see the bari player on a metal Lawton (same as me) - who were the band members ?

Rhys
 

Pete Effamy

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Great tune - I think I first heard it in about 1976 and really loved the horns - particularly that baritone sax. I tried to get our covers band to play it about five years ago, but the band folded soon after. The chart I have is in half time, but the horn parts aren't quite as the original recording.

Your version on Wogan was great - when was that ? It's good to see the bari player on a metal Lawton (same as me) - who were the band members ?

Rhys
Hi Rhys, yes it was always a fun chart. This was from Weekend Wogan, 2010.
Elio Pace - MD, lead vocals, piano
Chloe Buswell - vocals
Sue Acteson - vocals
Kirstie Roberts - vocals
Darren Loveday - guitar
Neil Fairclough - bass
Brian - drums
Paul Newton - tpt
Pete Effamy - alto
Ade Fry - tbn
Ade Revell - bari
 

rhysonsax

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Thanks guys, those points are very helpful. ...................................................


I am currently doing the one with Ron Carter and it is rhythmically much more complex than I first thought. I notate it with Sibelius and I think it has a "Plug In" that will translate to and from 12/8, so maybe I can get both ways by working on just one.

Rhys

Unfortunately, while Sibelius has a plug-in for translating from 4/4 into 12/8, it doesn't have one for the other way around - apparently that is much harder to programme, as well as perhaps being less often needed.

I have done the intro and the first 32 bars and have transcribed Ron Carter's bass line as well as Houston Person's tenor. I am finding that the bass is very "triplety" and so am ploughing on with it in 12/8 for the moment.

First time I have tried transcribing a whole bass part and it's interesting.

Rhys
 
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