What, how and why are you transcribing?

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73
#1
Hey guys, just had a brainwave for a cool thread. Basically I think it would be interesting to see what everyone is working on at the minute in terms of transcription and hopefully fuel us all with new ideas on how to transcribe and what to transcribe. Basically is goes down like this:
1) What are you transcribing at the minute?
2) How are you going about doing the transcribing, whats your method(s)?
3) Why are you transcribing this particular player/solo/lick etc.

Also a youtube link or something to your tune would be helpful as well.

1) At the minute I am transcribing Ad Lib Blues by Lester Young.
2) Up until recently I would usually transcribe the whole solo, and then maybe take a few licks and note them down to put into twelve keys as they would come up during my lick practice. Now to be honest, with this method, I just never got around to doing the licks most of the time as I would be working on other licks and stuff so my new method as advised to me by a cat called Cathal Roche, was to take the first phrase, slow it down to 50%, be able to sing it, then play it and gradually speed it up till it was at full speed, then shift the pitch up a half step and repeat until you have done it in all twelve keys. A slow process, but one I think will drastically help develop my fluency in twelve keys.
3) The main reason is because Prez can really swing it! I'm trying to go back to all the earlier player pre Parker, Cannonball etc to really gain a feel for the history of the music, Prez being such an influential player to a lot of people. Also playing Alto, I am looking to try and get a big sound on my lower end so I think transcribing some tenor players will help with that.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPHj9uNZOgk


Anyway I hope this thread will really kick off as it has the potential to turn into something very interesting.

Micheal
 
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Nick Wyver

noisy
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Minster On Sea
#2
1) Nothing at the moment. I had in mind to do some of Elton Dean's solos on "Dedicated To You But You Weren't listening", notably "Black Horse", but other stuff has intervened and I haven't got round to it.

2) If it's something simple I'm doing for a student or the band then I'll just work it out on the sax and write it down. I get a bit more systematic if it's complicated. I use Transcribe and mark in bars and beats then put in notes that fall on bar lines so I can place the solo in some sort of framework. If I don't have a sax to hand I'll write down the rhythm over the top. Then it's just a question of filling in the gaps, slowing it down if necessary. Which makes it sound easy but it can be very laborious. I don't do enough for it to be quick. Probably the hardest part is trying to notate the rhythm if the player is particularly free. You have to compromise between accuracy and not making it look over complex. Bent notes and other saxophony inflexions are a bit of a nuisance too.

3) I transcribe stuff because I get asked to or if I like it enough and I can't find a transcription of it somewhere else. I won't bother to do a solo that someone has already done. There's not much point when there's so much out there that hasn't been done.
 
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Messages
69
Location
Western KY, USA
#3
(1) My summer project is transcribing Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt's 'Blues Up and Down', with a twist... I'm transcribing all the sax solos from each of the 16 different recordings of the tune that I have in my library, featuring a total of 20 different sax players. The recordings span approximately 40 years.

(2) I'm using Transcribe! to slow it down, and commit 4 bars first to memory and then to paper. In this instance, the initial emphasis is more on quantity than quality. Detailed analysis will come after transcription.

(3) The reason is that I seem to be out of ideas for playing over this "simple" set of changes. I want to analyze the different approaches that players have used on this tune, and how those approaches have changed over time. I'm also hoping to have one of those 'AHA!' moments when the lightbulb clicks on and I go "So THAT'S how it's done!"
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,883
#4
There is nothing wrong with transcribing solo,s to understand what the
Player is doing and collecting licks, that can be very useful in a live situation, but it's also good to think about how you want to interpret the music, and develop your own voice.
Not being a jazzer, more an embellisher myself, I tend to transcribe non jazz solos. I got a lot out of creating a midi and playing the pop tune Bubbles and the classic Tommy Wolf tune. The Ballad of the sad young Men recently. For ex. I virtually worked out the harmonies as what I found on the net didn't sound right or at least what was in my head. Then comparing an instrumental version with the vocals of the tunes, was also revealing. Sometimes it's very difficult to re-create the mood/expression on an instrument that seems effortless for a good vocalist. But trying to achieve a certain expression with your instrument, is what makes you sound more individual, than the learning of somebody else,s licks.
Michael. From your video you look like a young guy, so you have plenty of time to develop your own style. Hope this gives you food for thought.:)
 
Messages
69
Location
Western KY, USA
#5
...Then comparing an instrumental version with the vocals of the tunes, was also revealing. Sometimes it's very difficult to re-create the mood/expression on an instrument that seems effortless for a good vocalist....
Ben Webster always stressed knowing the lyrics to a song in order to know how to play it, and we all know that he was unsurpassed in his treatment of ballads. There's one certain story told about him:

On a gig, in the middle of a solo, he suddenly stopped playing altogether. Someone asked him what happened. Webster said:
"I forgot the words."
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,883
#6
Ben Webster always stressed knowing the lyrics to a song in order to know how to play it, and we all know that he was unsurpassed in his treatment of ballads. There's one certain story told about him:

On a gig, in the middle of a solo, he suddenly stopped playing altogether. Someone asked him what happened. Webster said:
"I forgot the words."
Ha. Ha. Great story. I think a good example also is Answer me my Love. By
Gene Ammon.:)
 

ellinas

Senior Member
Messages
761
Location
Athens, Greece
#20
Such tunes are a great way to introduce yourself to the art of transcribing. For me it has always been like that: i listen a tune i like ... I try to play it as close as i can , then part by part i write the dots then i try to find out with precision the rhythm. Sometimes though i skip the wriing stuff and force my brain to memorize. It has really really helped me in improvising.
 
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