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  1. #26

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    Every professional jazz musician transcribed one or more solos...I am sure..;-)

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  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    Every professional jazz musician transcribed one or more solos...I am sure..;-)
    George Shearing?
    Art Tatum?
    Django?

    Huh, learn something new every day.
    David

  4. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by rodolfoguitarra
    Mulgrew Miller in Mulgrew Miller The Book says
    One of the big differences between me and probably ninety-five percent of other players you hear on the scene–I’ve done almost no transcriptions in my life … A person might learn all of that and may not really know how it was put together. He just knows what the notes are and learns those notes and plays them … when you copy it off the record it doesn’t mean as much.
    I agree, but then I like to analyse every line I lift, so that way I can roll my own in the same vein...

    I almost think it's arrogant, lazy or both to avoid lifting the odd line. I resisted for a time feeling convinced that the lines I heard in my head were good enough. But when you get down to it, take any 2 or 4 bars out of any tune you like and play what you know over them, your very best ideas be they semi or fully improvised, or even not at all. Now go and see what Wes did over those bars, or Bird, or Rollins, or Jackie Mac, or Cannonball ....

    Pretty soon you might realise how high the bar has been set, which is a great thing if it makes you work a bit harder to lift your own game. Lifting is not just about appropriation, it makes you see that there are always cooler ways to get from one bar to another that exists in this vast storage of recorded tradition. When you become a lifter, you concede that 100 years of Jazz history (with some of the greatest musical geniuses of all time) can teach you a thing or two. It kicks your ass, and don't we all need a good ass kicking from time to time?

  5. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    I agree, but then I like to analyse every line I lift, so that way I can roll my own in the same vein...
    The lines I play are based on an understanding of the rules of form and possibility, and the ability to realize them in real time. The better I know the rules, the more I hear when I play and the more I hear from other peoples' playing. Actually they're inseparable. It's a self enforcing cycle for me.
    I like what you say about lifting. I don't transcribe solos off recordings myself, but I listen to a lot of live music. Every chance I get. I also record and document live recordings copiously and meticulously. 99% of what I record gets archived and is never listened to again, but there is that 1% time that I can instantly say "He (She) went there and did it!" and I'll go back and listen for the development of that idea, the evolution of that phrase in that particular solo, the other musicians and what they're contributing to that moment and what I know that musician is drawing from as far as the other things they MIGHT have played.
    I'll never play that phrase myself, but studying that captured moment will, in that 1% example, change the way I think about the entire process of composition and improvisation.
    I don't transcribe, per se, but I ALWAYS have a huge net out there for that one idea, phrase, solo or evening that touches on perfect balance.
    I can't recommend transcription from a personal stand point, because it's not in my SOP, but I can recommend seeing live music and listen and record when ever possible. There are things that happen in real time, with an audience's receiving ears and the knowledge of being heard, that tell you more than you can imagine.
    The chops, the ear chops you acquire from playing, thinking and listening in real time are not to be underestimated. I love being able to share the revelations with other musicians: " 'I loved the way you took that idea you had and made it into a rhythmic improvisation when you played that sticatto passage in the second chorus" and having them say "Yeah, the piece just fell into place in that one moment. Can I get a copy of that?".
    I can see the value of transcription, and the dangers of it, and I feel real time listening did the same thing for me.
    And it's made me a better player.

    David

  6. #30

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    I've said it here before, I don't remember where I first heard it, but I certainly didn't make it up...

    But in order to play "jazz," "jazz" has to be the music that plays in your head.

    All of these different things, intense listening, immersion, transcription, etc. are routes to that.

  7. #31

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    I think Transcribing is great. Everyone needs to develop their ear.

    As far as learning the language(still an ongoing process for me). We don't memorize entire sentences and paragraphs usually. Most of us learn verbal vocabulary one word at a time. Cherry picking and writing my own phrases has been the best for me. Even the phrases I pickup end up morphing into something else.

  8. #32

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    I can't imagine learning jazz without transcribing in any shape or form. I wouldn't trust a teacher who say it's ok not to learn the great's solos. In essence it's like giving a license to be lazy.

    One important thing my teacher emphasized though, analyze everything. Why those notes are there, what's the thinking behind how it's been played, why does it sound good. I'm convinced that's how you eventually find a concept for yourself, so you can play your own ideas, modify licks etc.

  9. #33

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  10. #34

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    Here's an interesting question. Jazz isn't the only musical tradition that improvises/composes in real time. Anybody know about how some of the other traditions in the world treat the importance of transcribing? Does the Indian Sarod player studying under a master spend a portion of their day transcribing the recordings of others? How much time does a bluegrass player spend with transcriptions? Balkan musicians have many more makam scale structures with microtones and subtleties between what we see as whole tones. How does transciption play into their training? I learned piedmont guitar from a man who knew, was peers and colleage with people like John Hurt and Gary Davis. He knew their styles by ear and heart and he showed me the tradition by playing with the subtlety of their individual nuance, yet he was different and never once told me to do things like he did; but I heard a lot in his playing. Our time together never included transcription as we know it. I studied the jazz tradition with people who not only knew the tradition, but were an integral part of that canon, and although transcribing was never discouraged, it was not in our direct tradition to consider it essential; though knowing another person's vocabulary was certainly a goal.
    But my question is, how do folk traditions teach their art to the next tradition and how is jazz different that so many consider learning without transcribing impossible or at least not legitimate?
    This is a serious question, and I'd love if we might have a conversation regarding this.

    Thanks
    David

  11. #35

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    Improvisation is a big part of Indian Classical tradition... But I know nothing about how they study it...

  12. #36

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    I know musicians that can improvise in a different style of classical music...not jazz.

  13. #37

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    I just read an old GP interview with Howard Roberts in which he reported that he didn't even own a record player for many years. He said that he would remember things he heard on the radio, but, apparently, never sat with a record player going over things repeatedly.

    Warren Nunes told me that if he heard a song once, he knew it for the rest of his life.

    Maybe some guys just remember music that well.

  14. #38

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  15. #39

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    hi there, i am a musician from austria/vienna, i teach at a universtity there.


    my personal opinion about transcribing:


    when i was young i transcribed a lot, but never wrote it down. just memorized it and tried to use parts in other tunes, keys, other chord patterns. was a lot of fun for me when i was younger: i learned say 4 bars, then the next 4 bars, always try to play from the beginning with the band, and so on..... this is much easier now- in my youth, i couldn´t turn the recording slow without changing the pitch, so i had to transcribe in realtime. i destroyed lots of casette recorders.


    one important things on transcribing in my opinion ist to play along with the record in real time and get part of it. sometimes it can take about a year, until the lines become something like your own- thats when you integrate it in a natural way into your melodies. the good thing on transcribing longer parts is that you hear also what the drums, bass, etc. play; and: you get the phrasing of the musician you transcribe. that makes you sound better- at least for a while.


    and the oldest rule: never transcribe too much from the same but steel from many.....????????

    best regards,

    andy bartosh

    Andy Bartosh: Gitarrist, Musikproduzent, L.B.A. Studio





    Last edited by Andy Bartosh; 05-21-2018 at 08:42 AM.

  16. #40

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    I think Peter Bernstein has mentioned a few time that he concentrated more on individual phrases than complete solos.

  17. #41

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    Specific case - I would advise a student learning bop to start with learning heads by ear. In general less and easier material to learn and you can play them on gigs. And you can get analysing them.

    Starting with learning a whole Bird solo would be less efficient use of time, but if a student wanted to do it, great.

    Young players seem to be obsessed with learning compete solos to performance level. I blame YouTube.

    Again not a bad thing per se. But if you want or go pro - if you can play several solos all the way through but don’t know many tunes, your priorities need work.

  18. #42
    Does anyone here care to share what they do with lines once they transcribe them? I've been taking lines that catch my ear and reworking them so that they best fit my technique and work in different harmonic contexts. Anyone have a different approach?

  19. #43

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    Yes! That's the fun part...someone once told me--never "borrow" licks, "steal" them, because when you steal something, you make it your own.

    I suppose the first thing I do is look at original context...then I think about other possibilities...then I'll try all sorts of things...other keys, other registers on the guitar...I've taken licks and learned them backwards, just to see what happens.

    The biggest thing for me is taking a lick and figuring out what the melodic "touchstones" are...I mean, you might have a four bar string of mostly eighths, but what notes jump out? I try and take that material most specifically, because then I have a skeleton that can easily be tweaked on the fly...

  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fivefun
    Does anyone here care to share what they do with lines once they transcribe them? I've been taking lines that catch my ear and reworking them so that they best fit my technique and work in different harmonic contexts. Anyone have a different approach?
    Thats it pretty much for me. The trouble is when I listen back to my playing, when recording and stuff, I find the best sounding bits are phrases I stole from others... and my own shit dont sound as good haha. But its all in the tone anyway, thats where personality should come through IMO

  21. #45

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    Tone doesn't mean that much to me. Some of the greatest players I've heard had what I would call crappy tone. Joe Pass's tone was often awful. I'm not a huge fan of Howard Alden's tone. Tone can vary a lot from room to room, depending on the environment, and it doesn't really mean that much. But phrasing and melody matter. YMMV, and that's ok.

  22. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Tone doesn't mean that much to me. Some of the greatest players I've heard had what I would call crappy tone. Joe Pass's tone was often awful. I'm not a huge fan of Howard Alden's tone. Tone can vary a lot from room to room, depending on the environment, and it doesn't really mean that much. But phrasing and melody matter. YMMV, and that's ok.
    What i mean is tone as combination of pick attack, dynamics, intonation, articulation, etc. You play the same phrase as the next guy, but it will sound different.

  23. #47

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    My experience is as follows .. and it may be odd.

    Some things stick in my ear and get into my playing with almost no effort. I might work out a fingering or two and memorize the harmonic situation to which the lick applies and the interval of the chord it begins on.

    So, for example, I use a descending m9 arp (which I hear all over). So, I know it applies to a m7 type chord and starts on the 9. I like a fingering that starts with the 9 using the third finger on the high E.

    I have a few other things like that, but not many.

    The first time I heard lydian dominant I could play it.

    But, in contrast, I have worked for hours on other licks that I've liked and never was able to get them into my playing.

    In practice, when I solo I may use the licks that came easily (and mostly to bail out a line that isn't going anywhere), but mostly it's just trying to sing a line and play it, without patterns. I never end up playing any of the licks that I had to work on endlessly. I just don't get those integrated.

  24. #48

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    An observation after many years of discussing jazz on usenet and the web: The problem with these threads is always that "transcription" is an overloaded term: many people take it to mean "learn to play solos from records", and many people take it to mean "actually writing down the solo in musical notation".

    There is no real consistency in the use of the term "transcription" with regards to these two things, and that will always muddy the conversation.

    There are many ways to get to Rome, and there are definitely great jazz musicians who have never learned a solo in their life, and also definitely great jazz musicians who can play tons of solos, and so on. I often wonder what the OP is really trying to get at in these kinds of threads; are they asking because they aren't able to hear and play back musical phrases? Or are they asking because they have terrible handwriting and don't like writing notation? Or are they asking because they find memorizing music difficult?

  25. #49

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    There is something similar in transcribing to playing with a metronome.

    That is...

    If one has a difficult time playing with a metronome then that is what they need to do... almost always play with a metronome until it becomes easy.

    The same can be said for transcription, if it's hard for you to do then that is what you need to do (and pick easier/slower tunes so it's not impossible).

    That speaks to the ear training part of it. And the other obvious benefit is expanding your vocabulary. For that matter, transcribing can help your technique, theory, ear and vocabulary (and help you establish your musical identity). Sounds good to me.

    I'm not great at it... I seldom transcribe solos, mostly I'm transcribing melodies I want to sing, bass lines, and chord progressions. I will grab licks that catch my fancy though.

  26. #50

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    There was a time when jazz records were limited to a 3 minute long 78 rpm disc. Solos were much shorter and to the point, and copying solos was the status quo for teen jazz musicians, just like copying rock/country solos is standard developmental work for those genres.

    This is largely why Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Jackie Mclean, and a slew of others were masters before the age of 20. As in any creative endeavor, good creators borrow, great creators steal.