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#1305880 - 11/15/09 06:14 AM Pros and Cons of transcribing
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
I've been reading alot about jazz players doing transcribing. I used to do it when I first learned jazz, but stopped soon after and don't do it now. I found that I didn't learn much through the process.

What I found more useful was learning first to hear jazz "sounds". How a major 7th, minor 7th, dom 7th sounded. Then how certain notes could change the mood, like a #4 on a maj chord, or #5, b5 on the dom 7th.

I needed to build my jazz vocabulary first, then when I heard the masters playing, I would notice certain things.

Like how Jarrett likes to use inner voicings and sus chords to resolve, or how Herbie used dissonance. But the actual notes played was secondary to the musical message itself.

I find analysis' of transcriptions can end up getting too technical, glossing over what chord or scale was used in each bar. I'd rather listen to hear the mood, emotions invoked, texture, message conveyed by the song.

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#1305886 - 11/15/09 06:44 AM Re: Pros and Cons of transcribing [Re: Wizard of Oz]
alberto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/07
Posts: 43
Loc: Brescia - Italy
I think all approaces are good and useful. Teorical and technical study, listening, memorizing and playing famous great solos helps you to understand the language and go deeper into jazz.

Transcribing allows you to analize and feel better a lot of thing (phrasing, note choosing, rhythmic things ...) ... and all that can give you more ideas and "tools" for your music.
All these are pros..

Cons should be that transcribing is sometimes hard and difficoult and can take a lot of time.

Taken pros and cons I think moderation is the key :p

my 2 cents
This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.

#1305895 - 11/15/09 07:41 AM Re: Pros and Cons of transcribing [Re: alberto]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457
Wizard of Oz,

For me it's almost the opposite, I end up paying a lot attention to detail when I am learning transcriptions, and not just the overall stuff. Because what I found out is that it's the little details that really makes the solos great.

A lot of great players play the same lick, but it's how someone like Oscar Peterson lays back certain notes, or how he play something slightly different to give you a sense of surprise.

I guess that's why I learn solos note-by-note without to write them down.. the analysis part is really is, you can figure out whats going on almost instantly if you recognize common patterns, but learning to "speak" an entire phrase, or even entire solo is totally different expereince. It's not about using b9 or playing over the barline, playing pentatonic ideas, it's how you use them that makes them interesting.

#1305897 - 11/15/09 07:50 AM Re: Pros and Cons of transcribing [Re: etcetra]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457
Another thing I'd like to add is that if you are relatively new to transcribing, you tend to 'simplify' things, esp if you are just going for the overall picture.

For example Bill Evans may be displacing his lines on different part of the beat, but you might not really notice it and learn to play that phrase on 1 or "& of 1". Or you might notice that the rhythm is different on a particular section, but you might not know that it's based on triplet (like accenting every 4 triplet).

One of my teacher once told me that you have to be a scientist and investigate what these masters are doing.. I guess he was right.. playing part is about inspiration and all that but practicing part is like being in a boot camp.. for me I have to be @nal about everything in order to get it right.

#1306089 - 11/15/09 01:54 PM Re: Pros and Cons of transcribing [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Another thing I found out about transcribing jazz from recordings is I still have my own individual sound. I can play the exact same voicings that Bill Evans played on a tune like Blue In Green but I don't have his touch, feel or strike the keys the same way, but I got an insight into his harmonic approach and how he applies it to the chord progression.

Now I am into a Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett trip to find out more about Chick's pentatonic work on "Matrix" and Keith's playing on Life Between The Exits signs CD. Chick's solos are not as hard to hear or figure out when I slow them down, Keith's solos are much more difficult because he doesn't play predictable patterns like other players do. Last night I just improvised and I was playing new things, new paths, new scales, fingerings, new music.

I think for most of us here that take transcribing seriously and put in the hours it takes to get it together, we do see results, not always instantly, but ideas start filtering into our own sound. Since etcetra and I are working on Chick's Matrix solo, I can almost guarantee that we may get the notes down bar by bar, but we will interpret in our own style and sound, not to mimic but to get a new direction happening.

Another point I want to bring up about transcribing is, many of us feel overwhelmed when we hear a 64 bar burnin jazz piano solo and how to start the transcription process. But we have to get one bar at a time, then try to memorize 8 bars at a time, get it under the fingers, connecting to the ole jazz brain mode and then let it flow. As many say, "I live one day at a time." So I transcribe one bar at a time. Back to work


#1306116 - 11/15/09 02:25 PM Re: Pros and Cons of transcribing [Re: nitekatt2008z]
KlinkKlonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 458
I think one pro for me, is the gain of confidence from being able to hear any line and work it out and understand the logic behind it. Also, for learning new tunes, the tunes will really stick if you transcribe it compared to learning from books.


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