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#1203446 - 05/21/09 01:25 PM questions about transcriptions
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I have couple of questions...

1) when you transcrib do you base your accidentals on the key you are in or the chord you are current on?

For example you have a tune that's mostly a Cmin blues but you have a Bmaj7#11 in the middle.. would you respell Bb as A# to reflect that chord or stick with Bb?

2) how much do you guys transcribe, and how much do you guys transcribe. how often do you guys learn something without writing them down?

when I am focused I do about an hour a day, but if I have too many other things I have to work on, I won't transcribe for couple of weeks.. its like a cycle i guess.. I do at least 2 a month.

3) what if your ears and what you transcribe is way ahead of what you can do technically?

I can transcribe Kenny Kirkland's solo but I don't think I can play them at tempo yet... I can always transcribe easier solos by wynton kelly or someone else, but I've done plenty of those already and their playing won't be 'new' to me. I am hoping that eventually i will be able to play them.

4) how well can you transcribe solo piano or big band stuff, where there are multiple voices involved?

If I spend enough time I will be able to figure out all the notes played at the moment.. its so darn hard to hear more than 3 voices at the same time, I am starting to able to hear the notes that's "sandwitched" in between.. being able to hear them does give you a very different perspective on counterpoint

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#1203619 - 05/21/09 07:41 PM Re: questions about transcriptions [Re: etcetra]
jjtpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/08
Posts: 213
Loc: Jamestown, NC
Good questions.

I do a lot of transcribing, and the first question I'd ask is whether the BMaj7 chord should be spelled as a CbMaj7 chord. Spell the Maj7 and the #11 accordingly.

If the chord is a CbMaj7 (chromatically leading back to the Cmin), I'd spell the Maj7 as a Bb and the #11 as an F natural. If the tonality is established, though, as a BMaj, then I'd use the A# and and E#.

I always transcribe in terms of the tonality that we're in at that point. So if you're playing in the key of F and the next chord is a G7(#11), I'd use the C# for the #11.

If the music gets ahead of my ability to transcribe, I slow it down.

Regarding the multiple voices, I try to hear the intervals that are there and transcribe accordingly, using the scale of the tonality for the intervening notes.

I've seen transcriptions that were made by excellent transcriptionists, and there are always some errors, so I'd say that it's nearly impossible to transcribe an entire big band arrangement accurately.

Same with solo piano.

Edited by jjtpiano (05/21/09 07:45 PM)
Live Music Is Best

#1203746 - 05/22/09 12:21 AM Re: questions about transcriptions [Re: jjtpiano]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446

I agree mostly with what you are saying.. i guess a lot of it depends on whether the harmony is functional or not too. If its non-functional then sometimes there is no way to tell.

Also, I remember some people would prefer B maj 7 for sight reading sake. One of my teacher, who is a well known arranger encouraged students not to use things like Cb or G double flat, because it makes it needlessly harder for musicians to sight read.

as far as multiple voices are concerned, if I listen to it long enough i can eventually hear all the notes.. the 'soprano' voice in the chord is hardest to hear because they don't move very much and they are usually 'filler' notes. I read that herbie hancock listened to the Hi-Los, and being able to hear their harmony was a big part of his musical development.

"by the time I actually heard the Hi-Lo's, I started picking that stuff out; my ear was happening. I could hear stuff and that's when I really learned some much farther-out voicings -like the harmonies I used on 'Speak Like a Child' -just being able to do that"

It makes me wonder what kind ears these people have... it seems like they are freaking monsters in every aspect of musicianship smile

#1206504 - 05/27/09 12:52 AM Re: questions about transcriptions [Re: etcetra]
jjtpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/08
Posts: 213
Loc: Jamestown, NC
I've heard that point about not writing Cb or E#, etc., so I started to look for it in some pro big band charts I sometimes get to play.

In those, they write the correct note, using Cb, E#, Fb and B# when it's called for. Double flats and double sharps, though, are avoided.

Hearing the notes is a skill you can develop. I've been working through a book called "Hearing and Writing Music," by Ron Gorow, available on Amazon.com. It's helped my listening skills more than any other thing I've done.
Live Music Is Best


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