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  1. #51

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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.

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  3. #52

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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.

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    ....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.
    Right there is the absolute best argument for transcribing. Three of my all time favourite improvisors, all started out stealing lines, and, given time, all found their own unique voice despite having to overcome the "soundalike" problem. Trouble is it takes a busload of talent and commitment to transcend...

    Question for a lot us remains: "Are we happy to be reasonable soundalikes, or be better at being ourselves "?
    For Sonny, Jackie and Freddie it used to be a question of competing for attention in order to make a living. Now it's more about the artistry and the satisfaction derived by the pursuit of it. Or something...

  5. #54

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    Well I think this may be putting the cart before the horse.

    There are few thing more enjoyable as a player than taking a bit of time to sit down with some favourite recordings and copy the bits that catch my ear, and few better ways to learn about music.

  6. #55

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    One thing about transcribing/copying good solos is that for a beginner, it's the fastest way to make their playing improve a great deal.
    If you're studying with a teacher who doesn't emphasize the importance of transcribing/copying good solos, find another teacher.

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    One thing about transcribing/copying good solos is that for a beginner, it's the fastest way to make their playing improve a great deal.
    If you're studying with a teacher who doesn't emphasize the importance of transcribing/copying good solos, find another teacher.
    What if you're getting exactly what you'd hope for, more, and being challenged to imagine things you couldn't have done on your own by a teacher who doesn't copy solos? I was looking over this thread and it seems that those in the Transcribe corner are always the ones that make blanket statements that imply This is the ONLY way to go. Any useful tool can open doors if it's clear the reasons why and how you use them.
    I don't begrudge people who advocate for transcription but why the heavy handed binary thinking that those who don't push transcription heavily are just wrong and should be discounted?

    David

  8. #57

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    Yeah I think David (as he usually does) has a point.

    But anyway, I think there's a language barrier. The only absolute universal (and who knows there may be exceptions here) is that you must listen to music to be a musician. A great musician is a great listener.

    'Transcription' as we call in edu-speak is merely a very heightened and specific type of listening.

    In a strict sense if we trans-scribe (i.e. write down) we actually simplify our musical memory into dimensions best recorded by the European music notation system - a lot of nuance gets lost. So in some ways though this may aid analysis of harmony and other quantifiable elements the most personal aspects of the player - their sound and feel, may get lost. (Hence the development of players who are most notable for what they play, not how they play it.)

    For instance, the note choices of Dexter Gordon and Hank Mobley may often be very similar - but I'm not going to mistake them on record.

    That's a drawback of transcription of the academic 'do 32 bars of Parker for an assignment' type. Transcription of this kind is a limited practice activity best undertaken by intermediate students how need to learn the ropes (i.e. undergrad music students etc.)

    I do think that a player should always be working on their ears and their ability to audiate what they hear. Transcription in the looser sense of copying phrases and solos on your instrument is obviously a very good and holistic way to do this.

    Also, there is a road less taken in learning to sing entire solos (Tristano style.) This I think works the musical memory and imagination away from the instrument. Personally I find once a student can sing something, putting it on the instrument is relatively easy, and something easily practicable. If you can't do this quickly and intuitively, it's a good idea to practice it.

    Personally I feel the conceptual only approach is a complete dead end... But OTOH the transcription only approach may threaten to make you a mere imitator if you don't have someone to kick your ass about it (I have stories about it.)

    Depends how you do it.

  9. #58

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    Just wanted to chime in about the singing thing...I can't even express how helpful that's been to me.

    To the point now of when I'm copping stuff off records, I don't bother writing anything down until I can sing it, at least rhythmically.

  10. #59

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    I often think... why wouldn't anyone WANT to transcribe? How is that not natural for a musician to find out what their inspirations played exactly, how did they think?

    A beginner kid coming to a lesson wants to play their fav riffs, tunes, their ears are not developed enough yet, so they ask the teacher to show them. But there is excitement! Then the kid grows, able to do it on their own, then gets into jazz, the whole world of music is wide open, copy this, copy that, not because your told to do it, but because it's so much FUN!

    so I'm sorry, if it's not fun, there is something missing... I do think teachers who say no, you don't have to transcribe are full of it, but more importantly, if you have to ask this question, if you haven't already done it on your own just because there's little kid in you who's excited to find out... Honestly ask yourself, do I look for validation of my own laziness or maybe I'm just too scared to face my limitations? That would be an honest question.

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    What if you're getting exactly what you'd hope for, more, and being challenged to imagine things you couldn't have done on your own by a teacher who doesn't copy solos? I was looking over this thread and it seems that those in the Transcribe corner are always the ones that make blanket statements that imply This is the ONLY way to go. Any useful tool can open doors if it's clear the reasons why and how you use them.
    I don't begrudge people who advocate for transcription but why the heavy handed binary thinking that those who don't push transcription heavily are just wrong and should be discounted?

    David
    I'm talking about beginners and rockers trying to learn how to play jazz. My first teacher taught me theory, technique and tunes, but never talked about copying/transcription. The bass player in my HS 'jazz' group took a tape of us playing to his teacher who was a jazz guitarist. He said I sounded like I was playing 'club date' jazz (aka wedding jazz). He was right. My first teacher mainly played weddings.

    One day I decided to transcribe every note of a cut from a Kenny Burrell record. I wrote out every note on the record. When I went in for my weekly lesson, my teacher was astounded by the progress I had made in only one week.

    Previously, I'd copied some stuff from Coryell, Johnny Mac, etc..., but I didn't realize that that stuff is not jazz.

  12. #61

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    When I was a kid, I liked stand-up comedy. I had a few records, and my friends had a few others. In retrospect, it was a small pool of material: Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner, Bob Newhart, Robert Klein, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Cheech & Chong. I memorized lots of routines. I enjoyed learning them "note for note" and it was fun to "riff" with friends. (I've done something similar with still other friends where you had to speak in lines from songs or from movies.This was fun. (Later, Bill Hicks and Jerry Seinfeld would come into the mix while Cheech & Chong dropped out.)

    My approach to music is related to this. Not perfectly but importantly. I like lines. (Even when I was a kid schoolmates remarked that I was forever quoting someone or other. It was true.) I like lines in music. I like to learn to play on the guitar certain lines that I loved hearing on records. I like to learn to recite lines from books and plays that appeal to me. (Once, in Metaphysics & Ontology class, Dr. Jean Meade, on whom I had a great crush, was talking about two types of time---kairos and chronos---and before you know it, we were going back and forth with the soliloquy of Macbeth that begins, "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow..." It's a moment whose memory I still cherish.)

    I like fitting a line into an unexpected place, or how one line calls to mind another one. I like how Herb Ellis can shuffle around lines and make them sound good over and over.

    Anyway, learning lines is what I like to learn. (And that includes melodies. Learning "Out of Nowhere" lately--what a great tune!) That's what I'm interested in. Even my favorite compers are making lines in their comping. I love the lines. It's good to know what makes some lines work (and how a line may work in another harmonic context), but I love to play the lines like I love to sing the songs. And sometimes I make up songs and sometimes make up lines.

    Wallenda said, "The wire is life" For the most part, for me, "The lines are jazz."

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    I often think... why wouldn't anyone WANT to transcribe? How is that not natural for a musician to find out what their inspirations played exactly, how did they think?

    A beginner kid coming to a lesson wants to play their fav riffs, tunes, their ears are not developed enough yet, so they ask the teacher to show them. But there is excitement! Then the kid grows, able to do it on their own, then gets into jazz, the whole world of music is wide open, copy this, copy that, not because your told to do it, but because it's so much FUN!

    so I'm sorry, if it's not fun, there is something missing... I do think teachers who say no, you don't have to transcribe are full of it, but more importantly, if you have to ask this question, if you haven't already done it on your own just because there's little kid in you who's excited to find out... Honestly ask yourself, do I look for validation of my own laziness or maybe I'm just too scared to face my limitations? That would be an honest question.
    I am glad that works for you, and that you enjoy transcribing so much. But don’t assume that “laziness” or “fear” is why others don’t share that joy.

    I started as a child playing classical guitar. That is the ultimate of playing other musicians’ lines. I am not a lazy musician and I was not afraid of other composers music. Of course I enjoyed the accolades of teachers and celebrated by friends and family for my technical abilities to recite and perform work. But whatever part of the brain that is responsible for memorization is not the same as the part that leads to creativity and joy —at least for me.

    I need to know the why, and to use that knowledge to create my own music. Obviously knowing how and why an artist created their lines often means i recreate the same lines. But if I don’t get there from understanding first just copying the lines brings little knowledge and even less joy.

    I get a LOT more out of talking to an artist who says, “at the end of a turnaround I like to lead back to the head with a run of an augmented arpeggio starting a half step below my harmonic target” than to just copy a line I thought sounded cool but did not understand.

    I don’t assume that people who transcribe lack creativity or the ability to understand music. I wish I shared that joy of transcribing you talk about. But it is also true that getting little joy or learning from copying lines is not necessarily a sign of laziness or fear.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fivefun
    Which famous players (not limited to guitarists) didn't transcribe much, or at all? I've heard of Jim Hall, Peter Bernstein, and Julian Lage not transcribing very much during their development. I'm not advocating one approach over the other, I've transcribed a lot myself, but I'd be curious to see what other approaches people have taken to learning a Jazz vocabulary. Also, if there are any forum members that haven't transcribed much, how did you learn to develop melodic and harmonic lines/ideas?

    The ones who could not scribe, did not transcribe.

    Wes could not scribe or transcribe, yet learned entire Charlie Christian solos note for note, and was paid to play them in public.

    Is that your real question, or are you teasing another question which is "shall I learn to successfully express the jazz language by listening to the masters alone, or shall I both listen and play?

  15. #64

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    Again I think the word Transcribe is quite a bad one.

    Learning solos or lines by ear... or maybe just the oral tradition.

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    I am glad that works for you, and that you enjoy transcribing so much. But don’t assume that “laziness” or “fear” is why others don’t share that joy.

    I started as a child playing classical guitar. That is the ultimate of playing other musicians’ lines. I am not a lazy musician and I was not afraid of other composers music. Of course I enjoyed the accolades of teachers and celebrated by friends and family for my technical abilities to recite and perform work. But whatever part of the brain that is responsible for memorization is not the same as the part that leads to creativity and joy —at least for me.

    I need to know the why, and to use that knowledge to create my own music. Obviously knowing how and why an artist created their lines often means i recreate the same lines. But if I don’t get there from understanding first just copying the lines brings little knowledge and even less joy.

    I get a LOT more out of talking to an artist who says, “at the end of a turnaround I like to lead back to the head with a run of an augmented arpeggio starting a half step below my harmonic target” than to just copy a line I thought sounded cool but did not understand.

    I don’t assume that people who transcribe lack creativity or the ability to understand music. I wish I shared that joy of transcribing you talk about. But it is also true that getting little joy or learning from copying lines is not necessarily a sign of laziness or fear.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    I started with Classical guitar too, so I know what you saying. And I see you're bringing the point of understanding the lines rather than blindly copying... In general I agree with that, but maybe I'm wrong, I hear you saying transcribing often leads to blind copying, and that's not necessarily true.

    In previous post here I mentioned that analyzing is pretty much a must if you want to develop your concept. But I believe getting the stuff under your fingers and in your ears first, and then explaining it. It in no way messes with your creativity, it only helps it! Avoiding learning other peoples lines is not gonna bring you closer to discovering your own voice. It's an illusion. It's the same as I hear some musicians saying learning the theory might affect their originality or something...

    So yeah, you can copy a line that sounds cool AND understand what you are doing, there is no contradiction whatsoever.

  17. #66

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    Yeah there are a lot of kids playing whole solos with the record on YouTube.

    I can’t see the harm in it, but it’s frustrating when they don’t know any tunes to play with a real human being.

    It’s all good though. Balance.

    Good players have usually done quite a bit of ear learning, unless they have a great ear and can already hear what’s going on in music.

    Weaker players can usually benefit from doing some, even a little. So it’s normally pretty safe advice for an educator to give.

    I can usually hear if someone has done much ear learning. They tend to play more musically and intuitively, and with more rhythm. Obvious really.

    They can be very licky players, which is not itself a bad thing per se, but something I was keen to move away from myself. Usually at that point if they are interested, the teacher can introduce more concepts and ideas to move them beyond licks and canned material.

    Theory means nothing if you don’t know how it sounds. That’s the bottom line for me. Check out the thread about hearing b5. That’s the type of thing players should look into imo.

  18. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Again I think the word Transcribe is quite a bad one.

    Learning solos or lines by ear... or maybe just the oral tradition.

    The word is fine. It's misuse may not be so fine, like any other word that is ignorantly misused. It means exactly what it says.

    Any teacher who assigned a transcription to me or advised that I transcribe, meant what they said. I have transcribed a few solos and songs. I have books of transcriptions. So it seems that people are transcribing out there all right. It requires skill and hard work. Those are two reasons why some people pretend it means something else.

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    The word is fine. It's misuse may not be so fine, like any other word that is ignorantly misused. It means exactly what it says. .

    In that sense, then, transcription may not be such an important part of the history of learning to play jazz. Indeed, it might be a better question to ask which famous jazz musicians DID do a lot of that. I don't think Wes or Charlie Parker Louis Armstrong or Charlie Christian or Joe Pass or Herb Ellis or George Benson, or Barney Kessel did much of that. Kessel was a big-time studio pro, who could certainly WRITE music---some of his own tunes still sound good---but I don't know that he transcribed much in the sense you mean, though I know from his PLAYING that he learned a lot of phrases and rhythms from Charlie Christian records. (His "Salute to Charlie Christian" is a testament to that.)



    Learning by ear, learning to PLAY music you hear, play it on your instrument with the proper feel and rhythm, is far more important than writing it down. I think this is what many players mean by "the oral tradition," and I think it was what Clark Terry meant when he encouraged students to "imitate, assimilate, and innovate." (<<<< That sounds like Charlie Parker's path! He learned to sing and play Lester Young's "Shoeshine Boy" solo note for note but I don't think he ever transcribed it.)




    Wolf Marshall presents an interesting case. He's transcribed Wes, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Grant Green, Pat Martino, George Benson, Howard Roberts, Charlie Christian, and a host of other players (-including rock and pop players) but his own jazz playing is not, well, he's got chops, but there's no market for transcriptions of his own solos, let's put it that way. (No offense, Wolf. Or friends of Wolf---and I know he has friends here.) His transcriptions are very good. World-class, even, but his own jazz playing is not.

    There is also David Baker. He was a gifted teacher and trombonist. I believe he was in an accident that hampered his playing. But he could play. He composed a lot, and he transcribed a lot and also analyzed solos he transcribed. So I con't think one precludes the other. Steve Kahn has transcribed a lot. He's certainly a major player.

  20. #69

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    Transcribing entire solos can be somewhat useful. Good ear training. Maybe some people enjoy it. I certainly did enough of it in other styles of music.

    I think there's a much much greater value in selecting the lines and bits you really like and really want/intend to put into your own playing.

    When's the last time any of us memorized 3 or 4 paragraphs from a book we were reading so we could recite them in public. We build vocabulary one word, one phrase at a time.

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    The word is fine. It's misuse may not be so fine, like any other word that is ignorantly misused. It means exactly what it says.

    Any teacher who assigned a transcription to me or advised that I transcribe, meant what they said. I have transcribed a few solos and songs. I have books of transcriptions. So it seems that people are transcribing out there all right. It requires skill and hard work. Those are two reasons why some people pretend it means something else.
    Writing down everything on paper does not help with the playing per se IMO. I've done plenty of written down transcriptions, and back in the day I couldn't even play everything I transcribed. But I liked the process anyway, I felt like I'm proving to myself I'm a proper musician lol!

    But if you don't write it on paper it doesn't change anything, as long as you can play it right is all that matters. And I'd still call it transcribing!

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by DS71
    Transcribing entire solos can be somewhat useful. Good ear training. Maybe some people enjoy it. I certainly did enough of it in other styles of music.

    I think there's a much much greater value in selecting the lines and bits you really like and really want/intend to put into your own playing.

    When's the last time any of us memorized 3 or 4 paragraphs from a book we were reading so we could recite them in public. We build vocabulary one word, one phrase at a time.
    Yea pretty much. These days even if I'm copying the whole solo for practical purpose I might modify a few licks here and there to make it more comfortable for my style and technique, and keep the phrases I love intact. Then I can perform the whole thing on a gig, and make it more personal. I don't see no harm in it!

    I've done it recently with some Django solos. Please forgive me Djangophiles!!

  23. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    In that sense, then, transcription may not be such an important part of the history of learning to play jazz. Indeed, it might be a better question to ask which famous jazz musicians DID do a lot of that. I don't think Wes or Charlie Parker Louis Armstrong or Charlie Christian or Joe Pass or Herb Ellis or George Benson, or Barney Kessel did much of that. Kessel was a big-time studio pro, who could certainly WRITE music---some of his own tunes still sound good---but I don't know that he transcribed much in the sense you mean, though I know from his PLAYING that he learned a lot of phrases and rhythms from Charlie Christian records. (His "Salute to Charlie Christian" is a testament to that.)



    Learning by ear, learning to PLAY music you hear, play it on your instrument with the proper feel and rhythm, is far more important than writing it down. I think this is what many players mean by "the oral tradition," and I think it was what Clark Terry meant when he encouraged students to "imitate, assimilate, and innovate." (<<<< That sounds like Charlie Parker's path! He learned to sing and play Lester Young's "Shoeshine Boy" solo note for note but I don't think he ever transcribed it.)




    Wolf Marshall presents an interesting case. He's transcribed Wes, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Grant Green, Pat Martino, George Benson, Howard Roberts, Charlie Christian, and a host of other players (-including rock and pop players) but his own jazz playing is not, well, he's got chops, but there's no market for transcriptions of his own solos, let's put it that way. (No offense, Wolf. Or friends of Wolf---and I know he has friends here.) His transcriptions are very good. World-class, even, but his own jazz playing is not.

    There is also David Baker. He was a gifted teacher and trombonist. I believe he was in an accident that hampered his playing. But he could play. He composed a lot, and he transcribed a lot and also analyzed solos he transcribed. So I con't think one precludes the other. Steve Kahn has transcribed a lot. He's certainly a major player.
    Yeah, I'm always amazed when I hear professional transcribers like WM play their own stuff.
    It kind of proves the point of what I said in my last post, that transcribing is a tool you can use as a beginner to get a long way in a short time, but no matter what you do, you're still the same person, no matter how much you've transcribed.
    My two fave improvisers, Phil Woods and Bill Evans only copied/ transcribed one or two solos when they were beginners, but the work they did after that had nothing to do with copying/transcription.
    Today there are many transcribers of their work, but none of them come near the originals when they play their own stuff.

  24. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    The word is fine. It's misuse may not be so fine, like any other word that is ignorantly misused. It means exactly what it says.

    Any teacher who assigned a transcription to me or advised that I transcribe, meant what they said. I have transcribed a few solos and songs. I have books of transcriptions. So it seems that people are transcribing out there all right. It requires skill and hard work. Those are two reasons why some people pretend it means something else.
    Actually, it's more complicated. The meaning of the word 'transcribe' as we have used it here is specifically a jazz edu one. (And like a few jazz edu terms IMO pretentious and misleading one. See also Mixolydian.)

    In the classical music world, transcribe means something quite different, taking music on instrument and writing it for another - as in Segovia transcribed the Bach Cello Prelude for guitar.

    What we call transcription is usually called dictation.

  25. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Actually, it's more complicated. The meaning of the word 'transcribe' as we have used it here is specifically a jazz edu one. (And like a few jazz edu terms IMO pretentious and misleading one. See also Mixolydian.)

    In the classical music world, transcribe means something quite different, taking music on instrument and writing it for another - as in Segovia transcribed the Bach Cello Prelude for guitar.

    What we call transcription is usually called dictation.
    Interesting... I remember what we called dictation was writing music down without playing it first, just by listening. That was part of solfege class in my college. Only we weren't allowed as much as even singing it back. Use your 'inner ear' the teacher would say. Could be harmonic or melodic, or both.

    Not much use for me in jazz as far as the lines go, I always wanted to get straight to guitar, get it in the fingers. But a useful skill figuring out harmony on the spot though.

  26. #75

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    Speaking of singing solos, I can't do that. I just can't sing. I whistle a lot though, something I learned from my father. If I hear a line, I can usually whistle it, but you couldn't recognize it from my singing. I inherited my mother's singing inability, unfortunately.

  27. #76

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    I really don't understand the point of this question. Some guys transcribe, some guys don't, we all learn by listening, this is an aural art form and listening, copying repeating is how we learn any language and music is indeed a language.

  28. #77

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    1. Transcription is writing it down, dictation is too, but more immediate. There are many, many things which are too complicated for dictation.

    2. When jazz instructors, including the great masters, advise others to transcribe they ALSO mean to play it! They DON'T mean transcribe it and let it sit on the shelf gathering dust. Does anyone really take their advice that way?

    3. A music master that I studied with briefly advocated that a serious musician should strive to build the capability to do the following:

    1. Be able to play what you hear
    2. Be able to write what you hear
    3. Be able to hear what is written (without or before playing it)

    Does every instrumentalist need to master all three skill sets? The answer is, it depends. It depends on one's goals and the requirements and demands placed on them in pursuit of their goals. Casual player? Pro player? Band leader? Arranger? Composer?

    4. It's 2018 and there are lots and lots of transcriptions out there. Aspiring jazz musicians have a lot of material to work with. That reduces the need to be a transcription machine. But what if there is something great and new and it's not transcribed (yet)?

    5. Transcription is also helpful when/if one steps away from the material in question for awhile.
    Having it written down can help one get back in gear much more quickly than relying solely on memory.

    6. Finally, if one's primary or solitary goal is to become an effective jazz improviser then the ability to play what you hear is paramount. Even then however, and for the Imitate-Assimilate-Innovate approach, transcription is valuable. It helps with part 2 - Assimilate. In the Assimilate phase one needs to analyze - not just ape. Written music supports analysis effectively because one needn't necessarily deal with performance issues such as fingerings, position/string sets etc. Their focus can be on melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic analysis.

  29. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt

    2. When jazz instructors, including the great masters, advise others to transcribe they ALSO mean to play it! They DON'T mean transcribe it and let it sit on the shelf gathering dust. Does anyone really take their advice that way?
    You walked into this one when you limited "transcription" to "writing it down." If that's all it is, and all that "transcription" means (-which is your claim here), then that's all you are asking someone to do when you say transcribe something. There are people who can transcribe well--and fast---but can't play at all. (I had a guitar teacher who knew a guy who wrote out Coltrane solos, page after page, dozens of pages, and my teacher could sing from those written scores, but the guy who wrote the scores couldn't play saxophone at all. Or guitar. He had perfect pitch. It was easy for him to do because it was easy for him to hear. But he couldn't play any of it.)

    You actually mocked as ignorant (!) those who took "transcribe" to mean "learning to play on one's instrument."

    But really, I think we all agree that what matters most is being able to play jazz well on one's instrument.
    No one really cares how a good player got that way while he's playing; you're too busy enjoying the music.

    If transcribing a lot helps player A get there, great.

    If transcribing doesn't help player B get there, well hurray for whatever does. Carol Kaye, for example, doesn't see much value in transcribing but this may be in part because she has an unusually good ear and didn't need to do it. In any case, she didn't do much of it and doesn't recommend it to her students; and dozens of her former students have had successful professional careers, so I think it's clear she's a good teacher. Frank Vignola is another world class player AND teacher who doesn't stress transcribing. (He stresses learning tunes and learning the fingerboard.)

    I was listening to a Bruce Forman podcast this morning where he was discussing 10 "mother tunes" he thought guitarists should learn because they teach one so much about the music. He stressed listening to great versions of the tune. But when asked about learning solos off the records he said, "Not as much as you might think."

    I'm sure some good teachers stress transcribing and they'll never get any grief from me.

  30. #79

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    Jeez, jazz players don't always use common accepted meanings of terms, get over it. If we did, we'd be punching seafood every time we hit a bad note and throwing our car keys in a fishbowl at the beginning of a big band gig.

  31. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    Interesting... I remember what we called dictation was writing music down without playing it first, just by listening. That was part of solfege class in my college. Only we weren't allowed as much as even singing it back. Use your 'inner ear' the teacher would say. Could be harmonic or melodic, or both.

    Not much use for me in jazz as far as the lines go, I always wanted to get straight to guitar, get it in the fingers. But a useful skill figuring out harmony on the spot though.
    Yeah I mean the centrality of the score to the Western concert tradition is obvious.

    Playing phrases back on your instrument isn’t a skill that’s developed so much afaik

  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    You walked into this one when you limited "transcription" to "writing it down." If that's all it is, and all that "transcription" means (-which is your claim here), then that's all you are asking someone to do when you say transcribe something. There are people who can transcribe well--and fast---but can't play at all. (I had a guitar teacher who knew a guy who wrote out Coltrane solos, page after page, dozens of pages, and my teacher could sing from those written scores, but the guy who wrote the scores couldn't play saxophone at all. Or guitar. He had perfect pitch. It was easy for him to do because it was easy for him to hear. But he couldn't play any of it.)

    You actually mocked as ignorant (!) those who took "transcribe" to mean "learning to play on one's instrument."

    But really, I think we all agree that what matters most is being able to play jazz well on one's instrument.
    No one really cares how a good player got that way while he's playing; you're too busy enjoying the music.

    If transcribing a lot helps player A get there, great.

    If transcribing doesn't help player B get there, well hurray for whatever does. Carol Kaye, for example, doesn't see much value in transcribing but this may be in part because she has an unusually good ear and didn't need to do it. In any case, she didn't do much of it and doesn't recommend it to her students; and dozens of her former students have had successful professional careers, so I think it's clear she's a good teacher. Frank Vignola is another world class player AND teacher who doesn't stress transcribing. (He stresses learning tunes and learning the fingerboard.)

    I was listening to a Bruce Forman podcast this morning where he was discussing 10 "mother tunes" he thought guitarists should learn because they teach one so much about the music. He stressed listening to great versions of the tune. But when asked about learning solos off the records he said, "Not as much as you might think."

    I'm sure some good teachers stress transcribing and they'll never get any grief from me.
    Yeah tbh at this point for me learning to play melodies well by ear is actually more of a challenge than copping lines off records.

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    You walked into this one when you limited "transcription" to "writing it down." If that's all it is, and all that "transcription" means (-which is your claim here), then that's all you are asking someone to do when you say transcribe something. There are people who can transcribe well--and fast---but can't play at all. (I had a guitar teacher who knew a guy who wrote out Coltrane solos, page after page, dozens of pages, and my teacher could sing from those written scores, but the guy who wrote the scores couldn't play saxophone at all. Or guitar. He had perfect pitch. It was easy for him to do because it was easy for him to hear. But he couldn't play any of it.)

    You actually mocked as ignorant (!) those who took "transcribe" to mean "learning to play on one's instrument."

    But really, I think we all agree that what matters most is being able to play jazz well on one's instrument.
    No one really cares how a good player got that way while he's playing; you're too busy enjoying the music.

    If transcribing a lot helps player A get there, great.

    If transcribing doesn't help player B get there, well hurray for whatever does. Carol Kaye, for example, doesn't see much value in transcribing but this may be in part because she has an unusually good ear and didn't need to do it. In any case, she didn't do much of it and doesn't recommend it to her students; and dozens of her former students have had successful professional careers, so I think it's clear she's a good teacher. Frank Vignola is another world class player AND teacher who doesn't stress transcribing. (He stresses learning tunes and learning the fingerboard.)

    I was listening to a Bruce Forman podcast this morning where he was discussing 10 "mother tunes" he thought guitarists should learn because they teach one so much about the music. He stressed listening to great versions of the tune. But when asked about learning solos off the records he said, "Not as much as you might think."

    I'm sure some good teachers stress transcribing and they'll never get any grief from me.
    I didn't walk into anything and I didn't mock anything or anyone. Thin skin?

    Transcription has a definition. I simply object to the claim that it's definition is whatever a person wishes it to be, and then compounding that by promoting the fallacy. Same as I would for any other term that students are trying to understand. That is all.

    And to Jeff's point about the jazz or "street" use of terms, I get it. I've been around jazz, blues, rock, etc. for decades. I have logged my years in the street, use slang and can swear dirty rotten trash with the worst of 'em. So What?

    Ironic isn't it, that some claim jazz not to be a folk music, even though they acknowledge it began in the brothels of New Orleans. Some want to term it "America's Classical music". Well, it's conversations like the one we're having here - where people promote and ruthlessly defend inaccuracy, informality, looseness, uneducated slang, etc. and chafe at any/all attempts to persuade to the contrary.

    I guess we could talk about the country & western player's theory terms. That might have some similarities.

    Jazz a folk music? Damn straight it is.

  34. #83

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    For myself, learning tunes from records, as opposed to lead sheets, has done far more for my playing transcribing solos. Learning to hear melodies in terms of degree, and then working out what harmony is underneath it (which will vary depending on recording) has really done wonders for my ears and my playing in general.

    Out of all the great jazz musicians I've met or taken a lesson with, quite a few of them probably didn't transcribe that much. And might even struggle to play certain solos that you'll hear people tear up on youtube. But every single one of them, without exception, clearly had the ability to learn a tune (melody/harmony/rhythm) by ear, recognize alternate changes, etc.

  35. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    I didn't walk into anything and I didn't mock anything or anyone. Thin skin?

    Transcription has a definition. I simply object to the claim that it's definition is whatever a person wishes it to be, and then compounding that by promoting the fallacy. Same as I would for any other term that students are trying to understand. That is all.

    And to Jeff's point about the jazz or "street" use of terms, I get it. I've been around jazz, blues, rock, etc. for decades. I have logged my years in the street, use slang and can swear dirty rotten trash with the worst of 'em. So What?

    Ironic isn't it, that some claim jazz not to be a folk music, even though they acknowledge it began in the brothels of New Orleans. Some want to term it "America's Classical music". Well, it's conversations like the one we're having here - where people promote and ruthlessly defend inaccuracy, informality, looseness, uneducated slang, etc. and chafe at any/all attempts to persuade to the contrary.

    I guess we could talk about the country & western player's theory terms. That might have some similarities.

    Jazz a folk music? Damn straight it is.
    Absolutely it's a folk music.

    (Ain't never seen no horse play "Donna Lee")

    I think you're getting a little bent out of shape about the whole thing though. "Promote and ruthlessly defend innacuracy...uneducated slang...chafe at attempts to persuade to the contrary...."

    All I'm saying in my post is "this is how it is." It's been that way, it's likely not changing, and I'm not bothered by it. I'm not sure why anyone would be.

  36. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Absolutely it's a folk music.

    (Ain't never seen no horse play "Donna Lee")

    I think you're getting a little bent out of shape about the whole thing though. "Promote and ruthlessly defend innacuracy...uneducated slang...chafe at attempts to persuade to the contrary...."

    All I'm saying in my post is "this is how it is." It's been that way, it's likely not changing, and I'm not bothered by it. I'm not sure why anyone would be.
    I'm not bothered by it unless people get self righteous about it. Maybe I'm having a flashback to my early jazz ed days and some of the faux hipster attitudes. Oh well.

    Will it change? Yeah, at least a little, and over time, IMO. There are a lot of hep cats teaching in the university realm (as well as playing now). The university domain forces instructors to engage in theoretical rigor in a way that is repeatable, measurable and stands up to deep analysis and intellectual scrutiny. I mean, how many times have people lamented on this forum how jazz is moving/has moved to the university and out of the clubs and street, etc.?

    BTW - nowhere have I advocated for lots and lots of transcribing. I listed some benefits. I don't particularly cherish my transcription assignments.

  37. #86

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    Jazzstdnt, Post #67:

    The word [“transcription”] is fine. It's misuse may not be so fine,like any other word that is ignorantly misused. It means exactly what it says.

    Any teacher who assigned a transcription to me or advised that I transcribe, meant what they said.


    Jazzstdnt,Post #77


    When jazz instructors, including the great masters, advise others to transcribe they ALSO mean to play it!

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Transcription has a definition. I simply object to the claim that it's definition is whatever a person wishes it to be, and then compounding that by promoting the fallacy. Same as I would for any other term that students are trying to understand. That is all.
    And yet, I find myself in the position of using all of these terms both accurately and inacurrately, cos that's what everyone else does.

    TBH, I think it's important for the teacher to take the student through the steps of the process in the lesson. Some students I am satisfied are already working along the right lines (it's easy to tell) - others need some support in learning the process

    I mean if you just sing a bebop line such as Scrapple to them, or play the recording, with the expectation that they be able to learn it in the lesson (well enough to go away and master it in their own time), the point is usually made. Or have the same thing done to you!

    Anyone who went through the steps you outlined above would learn something for sure.

    But there's something very grand about the term 'transcription' with it's specific meaning. Do your transcription of a solo, and hand it in for marking by next Friday.

    When Peter Bernstein talks about not having transcribed much, that's because he is using that (academic) definition. You'd be crazy to imagine he hasn't listened to and analysed the music in great depth on an ad hoc basis by ear, as we realise from listening to him talk about his process. TBH I model my process on his, because I love the lack of rigidness in his approach.

    But most young players seem to use 'transcription' and 'ear learning' interchangeably. Also bear in mind there are many professional musicians, for whom reading and writing music, hearing it and playing it are essentially interlinked. I know guys who can transcribe as fluently as they read flyshit on big band and theatre gigs, and for them this division between these areas are moot.

    You'd be equally mistaken to think that learning about the music from the records is anything but a step on the road to being a mature musician within this tradition. Dexter Gordon for instance complained about French musicians having essentially only learned to play the music from records.

    And to Jeff's point about the jazz or "street" use of terms, I get it. I've been around jazz, blues, rock, etc. for decades. I have logged my years in the street, use slang and can swear dirty rotten trash with the worst of 'em. So What?

    Ironic isn't it, that some claim jazz not to be a folk music, even though they acknowledge it began in the brothels of New Orleans. Some want to term it "America's Classical music". Well, it's conversations like the one we're having here - where people promote and ruthlessly defend inaccuracy, informality, looseness, uneducated slang, etc. and chafe at any/all attempts to persuade to the contrary.

    I guess we could talk about the country & western player's theory terms. That might have some similarities.

    Jazz a folk music? Damn straight it is.
    The Wagnerian elevation of the artist that begun probably with Mozart, I think is really important in understanding the social aspect of everything that followed and the cumulation of the idea of musical art as having prestige in itself, and the essential invention of the idea of classical Art music.

    We can see this played out in interesting ways in jazz, later on rock music, and even hip hop now... The terms 'serious music' and 'art music' as opposed to 'popular music' have fallen out of favour, probably when everyone realised no one actually danced to jazz any more :-)

    There's potential for rich discussion on what makes something a 'classical music' as opposed to a 'folk music' - aside from social and class aspects, I would find a musical exploration interesting. The existence of a literature is obviously hugely important in Western classical, but jazz grew up with recording which means it is not exactly a folk music in the same way that Irish folk music was, for instance.

  39. #88

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    Good post Christian. I was with you for at least half of it anyway.