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  1. #1

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    Oooooops, Let me explain this.
    I've been transcribing a lot without improving my ears so much. My improvement comes from other exercises like functional ear training or some apps.

    The problem for me is the way I was transcribing:

    - If you slow down the record, cheating. Ok, if the melody is damned fast you have to slow down but real music doesn't happens at half speed.

    - If you are getting one note after note using guessing the distances (intervals) between them,..., for me is cheating as well. You cannot guess your next note this way when you are playing. After meeting some players I became aware that the vast majority of them played with their EYES, not their ears.

    - If you don't know the harmonic environment where the melody is played,..., cheating. Where the hell are you playing? Is minor or major? It is an ending phrase?... Many people is capable of transcribing melodies pretty well, but progressions? That's another history.

    I know, at the end, you have the melody written, many of the times thanks to a trial and error method, but Will this routine help your development as a player? Sure not. You get confidence because you are saying to yourself: "You are in the right way, you are transcribing like the masters before you", but you're note, you are taking shortcuts.

    I have made two commitments for myself:
    - Every piece of knowledge I want to learn, has to be internalized first aurally.
    - I won't transcribe tunes until being to recognize four note rows at the moment.

    I am not saying this is DA WAY, I am just sharing my thinking. May be I am wrong.

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  3. #2

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    What's the point of transcription, to learn it note for note and play it back? Party trick.

    Sing what you can and take from it what you will. Transcribe stuff that makes you say "hell yeah!" When you hear it. Figure out what it is that makes you say it...a certain note or two, a rhythmic phrase, a certain contour of a line. It should be about going after sounds you like, not completing an "assignment."
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  4. #3
    That's the point!
    I don't want to transcribe for getting a new melody, I want to transcribe for improving my ears and for getting vocabulary, that's why I think that the way the vast majority of players transcribe, is useless.

  5. #4
    It's easy to over analyze things like this. Just because the long-term goal is to be able to simply play what you hear, doesn't mean that that's the starting point. There's the trial and error process of working things out at first . Then, you play things repeatedly, and your ears are teaching your fingers and vice versa. There's nothing wrong with that process. It's important part of learning.

    In the beginning , transcribing may be more about simply finding material to develop and work on repeatedly by rote. Nothing wrong with that. Work on playing a piece of vocabulary you like repeatedly, until you don't have to think about it - you can just hear it and play it. It teaches you very important things about where certain pitches are. It's simply a starting point from which to build a greater knowledge and hearing eventually.

    You have to do things in slow, imperfect , and maybe awkward ways before you can do them quickly and immediately/perfectly. If it was something like basketball, you wouldn't say , "Well, in a real game you never run sprints or shoot the same jumpshot 20 times in a row . So, this is pointless". You have to walk before you run.

  6. #5
    But you are always shooting to the ring.

  7. #6
    Whenever I've transcribed something I've often found that I'd never come up with this stuff by myself. Not transcribing anything ever would be like swimming in bathtub... or hottub. I mean, when wanting to be a well experienced musician you're supposed to play and experience personally what others have done. Passively listening is not enough ever. Of course there are more effective ways to train the ears. Transcribing does improve ears but is not good only just for that.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sjl View Post
    But you are always shooting to the ring.
    ???

    How is slowing down the record anymore "cheating" than any aspect of practicing basketball outside of a real game?

  9. #8
    I think this is going rare and We are missing the point. And I think the point here is how to get the most from transcribing or using it in the best way.
    Last edited by sjl; 06-01-2017 at 05:23 PM.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by sjl View Post
    I think this is going rare and We are missing the point. And I think the point here is how to get the most from transcribing or using it in the best way.
    Sure. Good luck.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    Whenever I've transcribed something I've often found that I'd never come up with this stuff by myself. Not transcribing anything ever would be like swimming in bathtub... or hottub. I mean, when wanting to be a well experienced musician you're supposed to play and experience personally what others have done. Passively listening is not enough ever. Of course there are more effective ways to train the ears. Transcribing does improve ears but is not good only just for that.
    Exactly, According to the OP, all the transcription I have ever done was "cheating." But it taught me to play things I simply could not imagine, could not hear, and surely could not play. After transcribing a few solos, I began to notice patterns, vocabulary, rhythmic figures, points of articulation, all the while "cheating" like crazy according to the OP.

    Bottom line for me is the real distinction is between what I got from NOT transcribing and what I got from "cheating." The latter benefited me incalculably. The former got me nowhere.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  12. #11

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    It's also possible that transcribing "not helping my ear" might mean I just don't have a very good ear to start with. Every ear can be trained, but there are hard limits as well beyond which transcription, cheating or not, won't take you.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    It's also possible that transcribing "not helping my ear" might mean I just don't have a very good ear to start with. Every ear can be trained, but there are hard limits as well beyond which transcription, cheating or not, won't take you.
    And also, maybe work on transcribing easier material which is within our ability to actually hear.

  14. #13

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    I think everyone''s first 5-10 transcriptions should be melody statements, not solos.

    But, that's why I'm not a highly sought after internet teacher. My "be somewhat competent in jazz in 5 grueling years" course is a tough sell.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  15. #14

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    the note guessing thing in transcribing, it depends on what you are trying to do. if you want to learn the notes so that you can analyse the harmonic ideas, then the trial and error is fine, it's a means of finding notes. if you're practicing aural training for intervals then obviously its not going to do anything if you just guess.

    the slowing down thing relates to the play slow to play fast idea. you have to have the aural clarity which has to be built up just like with rhythms and harmonies. to me it's a problem when it's a crutch, you can try to sing the line, then sing it slowly and go from there.

    really, it all depends on why you're transcribing, because the greats did it is probably not a great reason. for me transcribing is less about the ear. if you want to train your ear, train it away from your instrument.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjl View Post
    Oooooops, Let me explain this.
    I've been transcribing a lot without improving my ears so much. My improvement comes from other exercises like functional ear training or some apps.

    The problem for me is the way I was transcribing:

    - If you slow down the record, cheating. Ok, if the melody is damned fast you have to slow down but real music doesn't happens at half speed.

    - If you are getting one note after note using guessing the distances (intervals) between them,..., for me is cheating as well. You cannot guess your next note this way when you are playing. After meeting some players I became aware that the vast majority of them played with their EYES, not their ears.

    - If you don't know the harmonic environment where the melody is played,..., cheating. Where the hell are you playing? Is minor or major? It is an ending phrase?... Many people is capable of transcribing melodies pretty well, but progressions? That's another history.

    I know, at the end, you have the melody written, many of the times thanks to a trial and error method, but Will this routine help your development as a player? Sure not. You get confidence because you are saying to yourself: "You are in the right way, you are transcribing like the masters before you", but you're note, you are taking shortcuts.

    I have made two commitments for myself:
    - Every piece of knowledge I want to learn, has to be internalized first aurally.
    - I won't transcribe tunes until being to recognize four note rows at the moment.

    I am not saying this is DA WAY, I am just sharing my thinking. May be I am wrong.
    Nah I don't think you are wrong. Your post touches on a lot of things I've been thinking about.

    All 'transcription' is really focussed listening.

    However, many people seem to understand transcription as writing down or learning to play a solo all the way through. That's one thing you can do, for sure. What does learning a solo teach you?

    - language
    - phrasing
    - technique
    - some ear training initially to get it down
    - a nice achievable goal

    Like sjl, I would rather hone my ability to hear and respond to musical situations in real time. I'm not overly interested in more 'language', technique or even phrasing at my present point. So that means emphasising the ear stuff. Learning a solo is less useful for that.

    (Also doing a whole solo is a Big Project and I'm too busy ATM with other important stuff to commit.)

    Others will differ.

    If I had to express my disquiet about the whole youtube transcribed solo thing it would be:

    - it's showing your work. Cool - but to whom? Whose approval?
    - it's lacking in confidence in a way - why not post your own playing?
    - it's a bit of a fannish thing to do in a way. Be a musician not a music fan - be creative!

    But I've done it myself and learned a lot by it, so I wouldn't want to discourage someone. Having to nail it on camera is a great test of whether or not you know something cold.

    Anyway a result, I work on ear training and practice playing phrases I like back from records for about 30m a day. These phrases may well be forgotten and that's absolutely fine. That's not the point.

    I learn the songs I need to know by ear if there aren't charts for them. I work on ear training.

    My ear (I think) gets steadily better.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-01-2017 at 08:43 PM.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I think everyone''s first 5-10 transcriptions should be melody statements, not solos.

    But, that's why I'm not a highly sought after internet teacher. My "be somewhat competent in jazz in 5 grueling years" course is a tough sell.
    Love it. That market will be small, but they'll be pure.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    ...

    If I had to express my disquiet about the whole youtube transcribed solo thing it would be:

    - it's showing your work. Cool - but to whom? Whose approval?
    - it's lacking in confidence in a way - why not post your own playing?
    - it's a bit of a fannish thing to do in a way. Be a musician not a music fan - be creative!

    ...
    Posting doesn't have to be for approval. It's just fun to share stuff. I like listening to things others are doing who are around my level, and they like checking out what I'm doing.

    It doesn't have to be "for approval"-some of us just play music because it's fun. Some of us post things because it's fun. Some of us share with others what we do because... yes... it's fun.

    Fun. That's a concept I wish "working musicians" could re-discover. Maybe more people would stop and listen. Everybody loves watching somebody have some solid fun.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    My "be somewhat competent in jazz in 5 grueling years" course is a tough sell.
    I'm in !!!

    "Somewhat competent" means a big improvement for me.

    Er, can you guarantee this?

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
    I'm in !!!

    "Somewhat competent" means a big improvement for me.

    Er, can you guarantee this?
    Yes, all you need to do is stop working full time and fake your death to get away from unecessary family and friends.

    Let me ask you...how much do you like sleep?
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  21. #20

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    Hey Lawson ......yeah I remember fun!

    Miles had a record in his later period called Big Fun ......loved that idea.

    Maybe the quest for big fun is what keeps a lot of us here out of trouble ......

  22. #21

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    After having done very very very much transcription I agree it's a pitfall. Lately I started transcribing tunes and melodies - seems much more effective. And I do write down the lead sheet then

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    Posting doesn't have to be for approval. It's just fun to share stuff. I like listening to things others are doing who are around my level, and they like checking out what I'm doing.

    It doesn't have to be "for approval"-some of us just play music because it's fun. Some of us post things because it's fun. Some of us share with others what we do because... yes... it's fun.

    Fun. That's a concept I wish "working musicians" could re-discover. Maybe more people would stop and listen. Everybody loves watching somebody have some solid fun.
    I wasn't really talking about people like yourself who post youtube videos to study groups.

    Do whatever you enjoy in any case. There's nothing 'wrong' with any of it, but at some point one should post their own creations.

    Remember that guy who posted the AMAZING vid of him playing a Cannonball solo? I couldn't find any of his own playing in a jazz context. Which was disappointing.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by yaclaus View Post
    After having done very very very much transcription I agree it's a pitfall. Lately I started transcribing tunes and melodies - seems much more effective. And I do write down the lead sheet then
    Yeah, I mean it's so easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff you can be practicing.

    For me what keeps it focussed is if I concentrate on stuff for gigs. Learning tunes by ear and so on.... And that's probably better immediate ear training than puzzling out a very fast run or something at half speed.

    But everything works something. If your instinct is calling you to practice a specific thing, chances are there's a reason for it.

  25. #24

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    At the other end of a spectrum, I have a friend who's never done a transcription (written). He learned the language thoroughly. He can listen to a Chris Potter solo cold and tell you exactly what is going on measure by measure and he could play any given phrase if he wanted. He did this by developing a really strong WORKING knowledge of the language; and having a really good native ear I daresay.
    The point being that transcription is a complex endeavour and it's a process that does involve a close connexion with a player. The more knowledgable you are about the lexicon, syntax and semantic context of his/her note choice, the more you stand to benefit in appreciating their conscious note choices.
    As the OP pointed out, for him, it's not about the individual succession of notes, but the appreciation/reconstruction of a thought process. The more you know about the language, the better you can repeat it.
    One opinion anyway.

    David

  26. #25

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    Transcribing has been an essential skill in my career, because in 90 percent of the projects I´ve played, you have to learn the songs from CD. (or dropbox link, etc.) Everything that helps to get the job done is more than welcome. What you call cheating - I refer to as "making a good educated guess". It can be done away from the instrument, too - while commuting, waiting in line, etc. - I start most of my transcriptions tapping quarter notes (or half notes - if uptempo) with one hand and the rhythm of the melody, solo or rhythm part (works great for bass lines too) with the other hand. So by the time I pick up the instrument I just have to fill in the the pitches for the rhythm I already know. Checking the bass line for harmonic clues, using theory of harmony to eliminate unlikely chords, CST - why limit myself to "pure ear training" - Trying to execute a transcribed line with all the nuances like timing, vibrato, accents and so on can be an awe-inspiring experience in regard to the mastery of those cats I´m trying to learn from. Like with any other technique, transcribing won´t get you far until you take it to the music you´re going to perform.
    "Imitation, Assimilation, Innovation" Clark Terry
    Last edited by generalduke; 06-02-2017 at 08:36 AM.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    At the other end of a spectrum, I have a friend who's never done a transcription (written). He learned the language thoroughly. He can listen to a Chris Potter solo cold and tell you exactly what is going on measure by measure and he could play any given phrase if he wanted. He did this by developing a really strong WORKING knowledge of the language; and having a really good native ear I daresay.
    The point being that transcription is a complex endeavour and it's a process that does involve a close connexion with a player. The more knowledgable you are about the lexicon, syntax and semantic context of his/her note choice, the more you stand to benefit in appreciating their conscious note choices.
    This is what I aspire to.

    Transcription is what you do if you can't hear fast enough ;-)

    As the OP pointed out, for him, it's not about the individual succession of notes, but the appreciation/reconstruction of a thought process. The more you know about the language, the better you can repeat it.
    One opinion anyway.

    David
    Yeah I agree. I think transcription is a useful pathway to this understanding of language - a very useful one. I don't see it as an end in itself.

    Ultimately I don't really give a **** whether or not someone can play such and such a solo - I want to hear them.

  28. #27

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    Repetition
    you teach your hands
    then
    your hands teach you ...

    thats how it is for me
    but i can't play very fast

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yeah, I mean it's so easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff you can be practicing.
    This sums up my entire jazz guitar experience so far.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post

    Ultimately I don't really give a **** whether or not someone can play such and such a solo - I want to hear them.
    Yeah, me neither. Time wasted, getting someone else's solo to performance level. What are you gonna do, play it live?

    And yes, because inevitably someone will post it, there's some story about Wes playing Charlie Christian's solos or some crap. Whatever. He was Wes, I am not. And Wes moved a little past all that, dontcha think?

    You all know I do the "jam of the week" thing on facebook. Every few months, they do a transcription week...and it's crazy, when they do, you get all these young posters, college kids--music students, insane chops, playing great solos from the history of jazz. Well, jazz history and Snarky Puppy. And then you never see them post again, until transcription week rolls around again...what does this mean? Are they just not confident in their improv ability yet? Or can they not improvise? It's odd. They can obviously play.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  31. #30

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    When I'm trying to learn a tune, I often transcribe melodies and however much of the harmony I need to get the changes. The reason? My ear is better than my eye so it's more efficient than reading, and/or the tunes as written in the sheet music I have (Real Books) is often wrong (or at least different from the way the tunes are commonly played). Transcription will always have that practical value for me. I've never routinely transcribed whole solos, just phrases to get the gist of what's going on here and there. It probably would be a good idea to do this more systematically and comprehensively, but that's also a practical matter. It would take me hours to nail a three minute solo, and I have limited time (day job, family, attention span of a gnat, impending death of the planet ...). In that same span of time, I can thoroughly learn the head and changes to a tune, and practice blowing over it, maybe even work out a bit of a chord-melody arrangement, all of which has more immediate benefit than would thoroughly learning someone else's solo. No doubt I'm missing out on something -- e.g., I'm sure the process of learning an entire Trane or Michael Brecker solo would make me a better player, but life calls for triage.

    John

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Yeah, me neither. Time wasted, getting someone else's solo to performance level. What are you gonna do, play it live?

    And yes, because inevitably someone will post it, there's some story about Wes playing Charlie Christian's solos or some crap. Whatever. He was Wes, I am not. And Wes moved a little past all that, dontcha think?

    You all know I do the "jam of the week" thing on facebook. Every few months, they do a transcription week...and it's crazy, when they do, you get all these young posters, college kids--music students, insane chops, playing great solos from the history of jazz. Well, jazz history and Snarky Puppy. And then you never see them post again, until transcription week rolls around again...what does this mean? Are they just not confident in their improv ability yet? Or can they not improvise? It's odd. They can obviously play.
    I'm on JOTW too, I posted twice maybe? A blues and another song, haven't posted a transcription. I see what you're saying and I somewhat agree. However, the community is lovely in that group and people are very supportive, maybe it's what those kids are searching for. Sometimes it seems like it's a show, dare i say even to show off?

    On the other hand, it's like going to a jam session and seeing these conservatoire/college cats bust out their dim licks and masturbating all over the place. Sure, not all of it is bad. But just play some damn music. All of this will just lead to people only playing to just use chops, what about the people who don't have that kind of chops? Will they be conisdered unable to play because they can't play giant steps at 400bpm? These show-offs won't get that far IMO, they'll all sound the same, no-one wants that. Why listen to them, when you can go back and listen to the greats.

    Transcribing should lead you to find your own voice.

    Oz

  33. #32

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    This thread is great. I have my own love/hate relationship with transcribing. No doubt transcribing has improved my ear. I learned a ton of technique transcribing, no matter the genre. It opens the door to doing things you might not think of or imagine otherwise. You learn details like position and timbre. You learn control and restraint. There are all kinds of goodies found in transcription.

    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.

    These days, I get in and I get out fast. I hear something I like and I figure it out and move on. Usually in bits and pieces. Often not to any pains taking standard, just enough to glean an idea or feel. I'll keep transcribing for sure, but it's not the only way to learn to play, nor should it be.

    And somewhere out there is a recording of Kid Charlemagne where Larry does this killer solo. Haven't found it yet.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    When I'm trying to learn a tune, I often transcribe melodies and however much of the harmony I need to get the changes. The reason? My ear is better than my eye so it's more efficient than reading, and/or the tunes as written in the sheet music I have (Real Books) is often wrong (or at least different from the way the tunes are commonly played). Transcription will always have that practical value for me. I've never routinely transcribed whole solos, just phrases to get the gist of what's going on here and there. It probably would be a good idea to do this more systematically and comprehensively, but that's also a practical matter. It would take me hours to nail a three minute solo, and I have limited time (day job, family, attention span of a gnat, impending death of the planet ...). In that same span of time, I can thoroughly learn the head and changes to a tune, and practice blowing over it, maybe even work out a bit of a chord-melody arrangement, all of which has more immediate benefit than would thoroughly learning someone else's solo. No doubt I'm missing out on something -- e.g., I'm sure the process of learning an entire Trane or Michael Brecker solo would make me a better player, but life calls for triage.

    John
    Well, I remember Peter Bernstein saying that he'd only once transcribed a whole solo all the way through and that was a Charlie Christian solo for college. Mostly he works/worked on licks.

    That kind of reset my perceptions. There are greats who didn't do whole solos, and greats who did.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by don_oz View Post
    I'm on JOTW too, I posted twice maybe? A blues and another song, haven't posted a transcription. I see what you're saying and I somewhat agree. However, the community is lovely in that group and people are very supportive, maybe it's what those kids are searching for. Sometimes it seems like it's a show, dare i say even to show off?
    That's what it seems like to me - but if you want to show off, why not show off your shit? It's funny, it's like a sort of very insecure showing off haha.

    My kick against all of this stuff is that if you do too much of it, it becomes an exercise in fannishness. But the music culture on the web is very fannish in all areas. Most things are with your 20 and 30 somethings - the millennial culture is kind of curatorial in many ways.

    For example, in the guitar world there are people trying to recreate the exact tones of their favourite records, playing the exact parts and solos of the records.

    Too much of this and you end becoming a guitar player who can imitate a plethora of styles, but everything is in inverted commas. Look now I play 'bebop'! Now I play 'shred fusion'! Now I play 'country!' That's not even what a session player is meant to be IMO.

    (My ideal is the opposite - a highly individual player who can participate in many different genres and crossovers and still be completely recognisable - Bill Frisell is the archetype for me. )

    And I know a good way of getting views on my youtube channel would be to do a transcription video of some fashionable modern guitar player - Kurt, Lage Lund or Gilad say. And people could work out whether or not it was good to some sort of objective criteria. Unlike original music which is a matter of taste.

    On the other hand, it's like going to a jam session and seeing these conservatoire/college cats bust out their dim licks and masturbating all over the place.
    I like the idea of dim licks as in 'dim' - meaning not too bright in the upstairs department.

    But yes, double time pattern running is an unfortunate by product of the way jazz is taught now. The same players are usually somewhat defensive on the subject of medium tempo 8th swing.

    Sure, not all of it is bad. But just play some damn music. All of this will just lead to people only playing to just use chops, what about the people who don't have that kind of chops? Will they be considered unable to play because they can't play giant steps at 400bpm? These show-offs won't get that far IMO, they'll all sound the same, no-one wants that. Why listen to them, when you can go back and listen to the greats.

    Transcribing should lead you to find your own voice.

    Oz
    Yeah it's funny. But it's not simple. I'm painfully aware of the difficult relationship between listening to players you like and trying to imitate them, and the important aspect of preserving and developing your own voice.

    It's interesting to me that many of the great players of the 80s and 90s were often not chops players per se - Bill Frisell, John Scofield (more chopsy in his early stuff, but not a technique guy), Peter Bernstein. And the chopsy players who came to prominence were all individuals - Metheny, Mike Stern, Kurt. Even Allan found one thing that worked for him and a very individual voice. He wasn't trying to be a virtuoso.

    And I find talk of virtuosity of players boring. 'Oh that guy can play anything'. Great. So what?

    Now a high level of technique seem mandatory. But you still have guys like Jacob Bro who swim upstream.

    I still think tremendous musicians with their own identity are the ones that come through, the stylists.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-03-2017 at 05:19 AM.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I wasn't really talking about people like yourself who post youtube videos to study groups.

    Do whatever you enjoy in any case. There's nothing 'wrong' with any of it, but at some point one should post their own creations.

    Remember that guy who posted the AMAZING vid of him playing a Cannonball solo? I couldn't find any of his own playing in a jazz context. Which was disappointing.
    I get that. But I'm reminded also of a preacher I knew who was wonderful. His messages were thoughtful, deep, engaging... I copied a couple of them word for word. I asked him "Do you mind that some of us younger guys copy your sermons?" He smiled and said, "Well... it might be the only GOOD sermon YOU preach..." and we both laughed. He confided that he'd copied his heroes for a long time before growing into his own approach to communication.

    I think transcribing and sharing can be a great way to put down a layer of new ideas in one's playing, and I wouldn't hesitate to play a whole memorized solo in public if I couldn't offer something nice of my own. My goal, though, is always to improvise with my own ideas. Problem is most of my ideas are pretty cliche.

    At 62, I've concluded also I will likely never become a very compelling improviser, so transcribing has become more important to me. I just want to hear myself playing compelling music. It's painful to have done this for 30 years and still not be much of an improvisor, so learning the solos of others has become a way to at least make nice noises. No, it's not true-blue genuine authentic improvisation. But it's all I've got.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    At 62, I've concluded also I will likely never become a very compelling improviser, so transcribing has become more important to me. I just want to hear myself playing compelling music. It's painful to have done this for 30 years and still not be much of an improvisor, so learning the solos of others has become a way to at least make nice noises. No, it's not true-blue genuine authentic improvisation. But it's all I've got.
    Well if you've been trying become a better improvisor for 30 years and this approach hasn't paid off - well thereby hangs a tale, no?

    Which is not to say playing written music isn't a rewarding and fun thing to do.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Well if you've been trying become a better improvisor for 30 years and this approach hasn't paid off - well thereby hangs a tale, no?

    Which is not to say playing written music isn't a rewarding and fun thing to do.
    I should have been clearer. I haven't been transcribing or learning written solos for 30 years. Most of that time has been spent cracking my brains and fingers over CST, which I simply can't remember. I forget all the fingerings. I forget the chord, or the right scale. It's too cerebral for me, I guess, They say "get it in your fingers" but I started doing transcription and learning written-out solos a couple years back to "Get it OUT of my fingers." Honestly, I think I've made more progress in the last 2-3 years than in the preceding 30 (or 27 or however many) because when I learn a Jimmy Raney solo, I'm playing stuff I'd never have imagined or thought of on my own. I think it will help, but all the same, when I listen to most of you guys on this forum, I'm reminded that I'm too old and have to little discretionary time to ever reach the level of most folks on here.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, trying to "play what I hear" produced rubbish because I was hearing crap. Immersing in listening didn't do much for that, just like looking at great art doesn't necessarily make you "see" artistically. Working with CST seemed to me to be working backward. Sure, I can use CST to explain what someone played and why it worked, but for me it was never generative. CST is interesting for analysis, but it never helped me think of what to play. But transcribing and learning written solos has actually started giving me some vocabulary. I am beginning to hear, for example, Jimmy Raney's lines in my head, whistling them when I'm feeding my horses and such. And the fingerings, that go places my fingers never thought to go, are beginning to work into my "noodling."

    So... I'm just saying transcription and playing written solos is the only thing that has actually shown any hope of working for me because, one way or the other, it actually gets me playing stuff that sounds good as opposed to making a lot of rules and theory that aren't generative, only descriptive.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    I should have been clearer. I haven't been transcribing or learning written solos for 30 years. Most of that time has been spent cracking my brains and fingers over CST, which I simply can't remember. I forget all the fingerings. I forget the chord, or the right scale. It's too cerebral for me, I guess, They say "get it in your fingers" but I started doing transcription and learning written-out solos a couple years back to "Get it OUT of my fingers." Honestly, I think I've made more progress in the last 2-3 years than in the preceding 30 (or 27 or however many) because when I learn a Jimmy Raney solo, I'm playing stuff I'd never have imagined or thought of on my own. I think it will help, but all the same, when I listen to most of you guys on this forum, I'm reminded that I'm too old and have to little discretionary time to ever reach the level of most folks on here.
    That makes me oddly angry. I honestly wish I could get rid of all the CST for beginners rubbish out there.

    Sounds like starting with actual music has done much more for your playing.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, trying to "play what I hear" produced rubbish because I was hearing crap.
    Immersing in listening didn't do much for that, just like looking at great art doesn't necessarily make you "see" artistically. Working with CST seemed to me to be working backward. Sure, I can use CST to explain what someone played and why it worked, but for me it was never generative. CST is interesting for analysis, but it never helped me think of what to play. But transcribing and learning written solos has actually started giving me some vocabulary. I am beginning to hear, for example, Jimmy Raney's lines in my head, whistling them when I'm feeding my horses and such. And the fingerings, that go places my fingers never thought to go, are beginning to work into my "noodling."
    Have you tried singing those Raney solos all the way through? I mean that's the good stuff, right?

    notation --> singing is transcription in reverse, no?

    So... I'm just saying transcription and playing written solos is the only thing that has actually shown any hope of working for me because, one way or the other, it actually gets me playing stuff that sounds good as opposed to making a lot of rules and theory that aren't generative, only descriptive.
    Oh sure. I would never claim otherwise. Working out solos has done so much for my application of knowledge. The problem comes when things become too dogmatic.

    OTOH transcribing a whole solo and learning to play it back with no errors itself is not exactly learning to improvise, which is not to say it isn't valuable thing to be doing. On the contrary it's a VERY holistic practice activity.

    For many people learning a whole solo is never going to happen, but a phrase here and there, fine. Interestingly, some of these players have gone on to be really great. Which makes me think - hearing a phrase and copying right away is more like improvisation, perhaps?
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-03-2017 at 04:05 PM.

  40. #39
    Christian, transcribe Lawson's solo and record it. Cheer him up

  41. #40

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    Transcribing your favourite solos note for note is no different than the age old practice of Poets where they rote learn poetry word for word - as models. Just to know how it feels to deliver a perfect piece of prose is most instructing, the rhythm, the musicality, the emotional weight, the pauses...

    Of course, no Poet ever plagiarised more than just a few words here or there from said "models", but instead they surely strive to attain the same high benchmark in artistry by way of example. Thorough knowledge of such examples has been an effective way to raise the bar in their own work, even if their own work ultimately differs in style. Wes learned a lot of CC note for note, but doesn't really sound like him, right?....

    It's about the lessons you glean from the model you choose to absorb. You can teach a Parrot to recite Wordsworth...

  42. #41

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  43. #42

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    Yeah I think this is veering a little away from the op... transcription is cool but it doesn't have to mean

    Dave liebmans process is cool too, but not everyone has gone through it.

    Gary burton never transcribed but he probably didn't need to as he had naturally great ears, so could hear the music better than most of us.

    Actually good transcribers are capable of taking music down almost in real time. They might not be able to play it but they can hear it all.

    The only common factor seems to be that people should check out the music by listening to it on some detail. If you have to transcribe, so be it. If you want to learn to play the solo it will probably teach you a lot.

    Otoh you might never learn a solo in your life and doesn't mean you'll not be a jazz player.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    I should have been clearer. I haven't been transcribing or learning written solos for 30 years. Most of that time has been spent cracking my brains and fingers over CST, which I simply can't remember. I forget all the fingerings. I forget the chord, or the right scale. It's too cerebral for me, I guess, They say "get it in your fingers" but I started doing transcription and learning written-out solos a couple years back to "Get it OUT of my fingers." Honestly, I think I've made more progress in the last 2-3 years than in the preceding 30 (or 27 or however many) because when I learn a Jimmy Raney solo, I'm playing stuff I'd never have imagined or thought of on my own. I think it will help, but all the same, when I listen to most of you guys on this forum, I'm reminded that I'm too old and have to little discretionary time to ever reach the level of most folks on here.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, trying to "play what I hear" produced rubbish because I was hearing crap. Immersing in listening didn't do much for that, just like looking at great art doesn't necessarily make you "see" artistically. Working with CST seemed to me to be working backward. Sure, I can use CST to explain what someone played and why it worked, but for me it was never generative. CST is interesting for analysis, but it never helped me think of what to play. But transcribing and learning written solos has actually started giving me some vocabulary. I am beginning to hear, for example, Jimmy Raney's lines in my head, whistling them when I'm feeding my horses and such. And the fingerings, that go places my fingers never thought to go, are beginning to work into my "noodling."

    So... I'm just saying transcription and playing written solos is the only thing that has actually shown any hope of working for me because, one way or the other, it actually gets me playing stuff that sounds good as opposed to making a lot of rules and theory that aren't generative, only descriptive.
    If I'm remembering correctly, you've written a number of posts about how there isn't a community of jazz musicians in your neck of the woods and you learn pretty much in isolation from other players (except online interaction)? If so, I suspect that's much more the root cause of your frustration than any particular auto-didactic tool. Jazz is an ensemble, collective form, and it's nearly impossible to learn it on your own.

    In that light, maybe transcription comes closer to real musical interaction in that it involves studying phrasing, rhythm, and articulation, and interaction within the ensemble, which is where the art is. Complicated explanations and algorithms for identifying pitch collections in the abstract can be a distraction from that.

    My own experience with CST is pretty limited. So grains of salt, but it just strikes me as one of several ways to figure out what pitches work over a given chord change. There are definitely simpler (for me, anyway) ways to do that.

    John

  45. #44

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    A lot of great singer songwriters have covered other people's material almost verbatim. If it's done without any reference to printed music or chord sheets in my book that's a form of transcribing.

    I've never been much into transcribing but I'll do it now and then for a head I've got nothing on paper for but can remember or a melodic snippet I like. It's just another tool in the tool box. If it's a person's only source of solo ideas, well, so be it. I think it was Miles who said that no trumpeter has ever played a phrase that Louis Armstrong hadn't played. And on the other side of the coin there's people that won't cover anyone else's songs or even play their solo fragments in whatever genre. It seems a little limiting to me and I've always thought it was corny in a performance situation to announce a song as an Original. And there are quite a few top jazz artists that only do original material. We're talking about creativity and artistry. There's as many ways to do it as there are people.
    Last edited by mrcee; 06-04-2017 at 06:21 PM.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcee View Post
    A lot of great singer songwriters have covered other people's material almost verbatim.
    That's like telling me the best french chefs make a shitty cheesesteak.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    That's like telling me the best french chefs make a shitty cheesesteak.
    ????????????

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    That makes me oddly angry. I honestly wish I could get rid of all the CST for beginners rubbish out there.

    Sounds like starting with actual music has done much more for your playing.



    Have you tried singing those Raney solos all the way through? I mean that's the good stuff, right?

    notation --> singing is transcription in reverse, no?



    Oh sure. I would never claim otherwise. Working out solos has done so much for my application of knowledge. The problem comes when things become too dogmatic.

    OTOH transcribing a whole solo and learning to play it back with no errors itself is not exactly learning to improvise, which is not to say it isn't valuable thing to be doing. On the contrary it's a VERY holistic practice activity.

    For many people learning a whole solo is never going to happen, but a phrase here and there, fine. Interestingly, some of these players have gone on to be really great. Which makes me think - hearing a phrase and copying right away is more like improvisation, perhaps?
    You've said a lot of good stuff here. I agree with it all.

    I find when I've finished one of the Raney solos, I can sing it reasonably well. I'm not much of a singer, but I can usually whistle it and at least get the rhythm right and when it goes up, I do too, etc. I find singing is what happens at the end, not the beginning, at least for me.

    And yes: Actual music. I'd rather learn a new tune than drill a scale any day. I think maybe a certain amount of drilling is needed, but I like the idea of learning some scale ideas by finding where someone has used a standard or other tune and composed a solo that puts me through the paces of that idea in the context of the tune. In the "Conti Ticket to Improv" Study Group here, I've enjoyed the way he takes about 5 or 6 ideas and just works them over again and again through 4 different standards. The solos themselves are not that memorable, but the way the same ideas can be used and moved, fit into different contexts, etc. is invaluable.

    So really I agree with everything you've said here. I think CST is a good tool for explaining, in retrospect, how a solo "worked" but it hasn't helped me with generating ideas. For that I like stealing stuff from better players.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    If I'm remembering correctly, you've written a number of posts about how there isn't a community of jazz musicians in your neck of the woods and you learn pretty much in isolation from other players (except online interaction)? If so, I suspect that's much more the root cause of your frustration than any particular auto-didactic tool. Jazz is an ensemble, collective form, and it's nearly impossible to learn it on your own.

    In that light, maybe transcription comes closer to real musical interaction in that it involves studying phrasing, rhythm, and articulation, and interaction within the ensemble, which is where the art is. Complicated explanations and algorithms for identifying pitch collections in the abstract can be a distraction from that.

    My own experience with CST is pretty limited. So grains of salt, but it just strikes me as one of several ways to figure out what pitches work over a given chord change. There are definitely simpler (for me, anyway) ways to do that.

    John
    You have a good point here. I should also, therefore, be real cautious not to generalize my experience to others who might have better opportunities.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  50. #49

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    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.

  51. #50
    I ve found transcribing to be a great tool in so many ways. Learning to hear things, finding them on the instrument, playing top level material in the styles of particular players, learning how they develop solos, how they groove, etc.. Every period in my life that I ve heavily transcribed, I ve improved in heaps as a player.