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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kaye View Post

    But there is a dark side (insert evil laugh). Something happens when you dive too deeply in that pool. I remember being absolutely obsessed with transcribing Larry Carlton's solo on Kid Charlemagne. (Along with everybody else, I guess). Anyway, I locked myself in a room for a week and learned it note for note in pains taking detail, every nuance, pull-off, slide and bend. I had no doubts that I had perfectly replicated the solo (and the outro) down to picking attack, breathing in the right spaces and manicuring my nails just like Larry's just to get the right touch.

    In fact, I'd done such a perfect autopsy, that the solo spilled out all over the dock like the little Kintner boy would have. Dead. Lifeless. I'd sucked the magic right out of it. Mystery and wonder - gone. Funny how that happens. I would never hear that solo again, the same way I had originally felt it. It died a quick death. I never performed it and never played it again after that week. In a way, now, it seems like a different solo.
    I think that this is common, and I think that one should view it as a mid-stream stage - not an end state. I have found that one should keep playing the solo for awhile. I'll explain.

    Firstly, it makes sense to learn a solo or portion thereof, that is only a little over one's current playing level (playing level, not improvising level - it's typically way beyond that).

    Realize that copying someone else's solo is not improvising, and it's not creating. The originator was doing that but you're not. In this sense it can be very odd/foreign to the copier, much like learning another's speech patterns or sound.

    When you're first getting the solo under your grasp you are struggling with mechanics and memorization issues. What was originally a fluid piece of music may sound and feel very mechanical at this stage.

    Keep playing it for a few months (just like any other non-improvised music) until it's under your fingers and burned into your memory. After this stage you should be able to play it relatively effortlessly and it can begin to breath. You can begin to bend it and shape it expressively, at will.

    Finally, you should be able to play it much like the originator did. It can flow. It can feel and sound natural.

    Goal 1 achieved. (1. Imitate, 2. Assimilate, 3. Innovate)
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 06-23-2017 at 11:15 AM.

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  3. #52

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    My takeaway from this thread is to be flexible about your approach to transcription. The T word really means focussed listening/imitation.

    Different people will do it in different ways, and your approach may vary over time.

    You won't find much consistency between educators.

  4. #53

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    As a crappy player with little talent, little drive, little time on my hands due to a big DIY house project and a young son, I can say that the most beneficial activity I have ever done (apart from spending an hour or two with a brilliant player who lives near me but isn't a teacher) is transcription, or at least learning stuff by ear. I think there is far too much theoretical teaching material around that seems to advocate learning jazz by algorithm to the point that learning songs isn't necessary but that one should be able to play any song with enough knowledge. I fell into this trap, and it was counter productive and took the fun and music out of the whole exercise. It may work for some but definitely not for me. I want to get sounds in my head and then play with them. People need to learn in the best way for them, even if it is not what others advocate.

  5. #54

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    I have been doing a lot of transcribing of late and obviously am finding it very worthwhile otherwise I wouldn't bother. I am not really focused on particular or specific phrases / lines or licks in isolation when transcribing but I am focused on the overall structure/narrative/ arc of a solo .
    I'm drawn to players ( not necessarily guitarists - actually very rarely guitarists) who tell stories/describe spaces/take me on a journey. I'm interested in how those players articulate/engage and express those overall narrative/descriptive structures in a solo.
    Try taking a a transcribed solo you love and re- arranging the parts and see what happens - does it still make sense / is the flow intact / does it still maintain it's core narrative ?

    Will

  6. #55

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    Transcription is one of those things that I feel I should have done (and do) more, but I don't enjoy it much.
    That's probably because I'm not very good at it. Which, of course, is exactly why I should do it more.

    Of course, I have occasionally transcribed, or at least learned, somebody else's solo. For the time spent, surprisingly little actually makes it into my playing.

    In fact, of the licks and sounds that I use, I think exactly one came from transcribing. That was from Susanna Raya's incredible version of Black Orpheus. Check it out on youtube. The lick I copped is the Bm7b5 E7b9 starting on F. Gracias Susanna! One of things that makes this particular video great is that it's solo guitar and her single-string solo is just a handful of notes, each one perfect, and she comps in a kind of call-and-response fashion, so that you hear the groove constantly. It's as good as it gets, IMO.

    Beyond that, just about all the players I like play so differently than I do that it's hard to apply much of it.

    On any given day, I have so much which seems more pressing to work on (like being able to execute the stuff I already know in 12 keys at full tempo, cleanly), that I don't often transcribe.

    I do occasionally figure out a lick or a note when an unexpected sound catches my ear. A little bit of that has gotten into my playing, e.g. ending a phrase on the 9th.

  7. #56

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    I have quite a few licks that I appropriated from transcriptions. I'm not proud of it, but it can be fun to put them into your solos.

  8. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by m_d View Post
    Sax player Bob Reynolds had a great podcast about transcribing, on his Soundcloud channel.
    Some of his points were don't slow down, work a few notes at a time, don't necessarily write down.
    Reynolds is as good as they get, won a Grammy last year. Worth checking out.
    he talks about it in his most recent video, around 12:10 into the video

  9. #58

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    At 30 seconds in he said what I already think. It's not either/or. People sure like to set up either/or situations.

    The endless quest for shortcuts to greatness. Generally speaking, life doesn't work that way.

  10. #59

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    As per opening post and title... everything is useless if you do not know what to use it for.

    Being methodical in learning art often substitutes the main purpose of arts.
    For some people learning process can be fascinating to an extent that being indulged in it they do not think what it is all actually about.

    They think: ok, this great player says 'transcribe' - the I will trascribe and they approach the process with all the comittmenet and deligence... now they did and what is the result? The resul they managed to transribe a solo and (maybe) to play it note for note.

    Now they start soloing on their own and it seems that almost nothing changed...
    Why?

    It's like a computer... if you put a task to transcribe it, will transcribe, it will not analyze, intergrate. develope...

    Of course humans are not computers but still...

    The thing is that the 'great player' did not explain it in details he just said: transribe... well so I did. Oh he cheated me... let me check Jim Hall ... he said he never transcribed.. oh now I won't ever transcribe... and so on...

    I thnik we all should be focused on some inner thing we all actually have (otherwise we would not pick up a guitar)... so that learning process would help do develope it, not substituting it...

    There was an old proverb where a disciple asks a tutor: when I read the books of great sages I feel like my path is full of light and I fell secure.. but I once I quit reading it I feel in a dark... The tutor answered: well maybe it's time to let your own light illuminate your path?

  11. #60

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    I like to play songs. I don't have a great memory. I transcribe to learn songs... chords, bass line, maybe a solo, melody (mostly tunes I can sing). Works great for me and it's ear training at the same time. You can go from hunting and pecking for a single note to hearing a whole line and notating it without referring to an instrument (sometimes happens that way for me).
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  12. #61

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    Jonah why is most of your posts put me in mind of the discussions of learned monks by flickering firelight in some draughty 9th century monastery?

  13. #62

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    (I mean that as a compliment btw)

  14. #63

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    This is an interesting thread. one point is that to a lot of players, "transcribing" means actually writing down, so they might say they don't transcribe, and yet, still can play along to famous solos.

    When I took a lesson with Lage Lund he mentioned it as something he's done a ton of, and really had a detailed process for it. Obviously there's lots of players that have never learned complete solos in a formal way: Chris Potter has said he didn't do a lot of transcribing in terms of learning the exact notes of phrases, but instead focused on understanding the logic of bird. Obviously someone like Wynton Marsalis has done a ton of specific transcribing. Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh and all the tristano school cats still warm up with Pres solos. Jesse Van Ruller said he didn't really do any transcribing. Clearly, this is an area where there are many paths to Rome.

    I learned jazz from a student of Lennie Tristano's, and we'd sing solos, one per week, along with the record, then one per week without the record, and then finally I put them on the instrument. I did this with 12 charlie christian solos and 10 bird solos. This process was transformative for me, but I was in my early 20s and was in need of something transformative, and it really helped me internalize the language.

    I do agree that getting things to performance speed can be a party trick, but it's also interesting music to practice, and for someone young who's trying to improve their technique, it's much better to practice playing actual jazz lines at tempo rather than scales or something.

    I personally haven't transcribed many solos in recent years, but I find it fun to put on a record and work out a line or two as a jumping off point for personal exploration.

  15. #64

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    I like Bill Evans's comment of many years ago that he took enough to get the 'sense' of what the guy's doing. Amen.

    Unless you're doing it for the chops or for analysis, also cool. I've been saying I wanted to study Warne Marsh and Woody Shaw. Maybe one day I'll actually get off my lazy ass and do it...

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Jonah why is most of your posts put me in mind of the discussions of learned monks by flickering firelight in some draughty 9th century monastery?
    Ha ha. '...By the firelight. And my eyes visualize a family....'

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    This is an interesting thread. one point is that to a lot of players, "transcribing" means actually writing down, so they might say they don't transcribe, and yet, still can play along to famous solos.

    When I took a lesson with Lage Lund he mentioned it as something he's done a ton of, and really had a detailed process for it. Obviously there's lots of players that have never learned complete solos in a formal way: Chris Potter has said he didn't do a lot of transcribing in terms of learning the exact notes of phrases, but instead focused on understanding the logic of bird. Obviously someone like Wynton Marsalis has done a ton of specific transcribing. Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh and all the tristano school cats still warm up with Pres solos. Jesse Van Ruller said he didn't really do any transcribing. Clearly, this is an area where there are many paths to Rome.

    I learned jazz from a student of Lennie Tristano's, and we'd sing solos, one per week, along with the record, then one per week without the record, and then finally I put them on the instrument. I did this with 12 charlie christian solos and 10 bird solos. This process was transformative for me, but I was in my early 20s and was in need of something transformative, and it really helped me internalize the language.

    I do agree that getting things to performance speed can be a party trick, but it's also interesting music to practice, and for someone young who's trying to improve their technique, it's much better to practice playing actual jazz lines at tempo rather than scales or something.

    I personally haven't transcribed many solos in recent years, but I find it fun to put on a record and work out a line or two as a jumping off point for personal exploration.
    Cool post.... yeah I agree. I'd never discourage someone from learning a solo to performance standard even though I was a bit sniffy about it above. It's a useful project to undertake.

    From my own experience, I can't play the solos I learned to play to performance standard a couple of years back. They fade for me. Perhaps I don't know them well enough!

    In any case I don't worry too much. I think being curious about music and using your ears is the main thing.

  18. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    ......

    There was an old proverb where a disciple asks a tutor: when I read the books of great sages I feel like my path is full of light and I fell secure.. but I once I quit reading it I feel in a dark... The tutor answered: well maybe it's time to let your own light illuminate your path?
    Yeah, this ^^^

  19. #68

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    Jonah why is most of your posts put me in mind of the discussions of learned monks by flickering firelight in some draughty 9th century monastery?
    Why 9th century? I am for 11th...