1. #1

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    I guess I'm really talking about saxophone. I'm working on a blues piece with Hank Crawford, and I'm finding sometimes a sax player really has some articulations that I'm unsure how to notate.

    The piece is here:


    I'm done with the sax solo, but I'm not entirely happy with a couple parts....ie: @3:07 he does this lick where he sounds like he's bending the notes...I attached the part I notated, but I'm really at kind of a loss how to show it. I believe the notes are correct, but trying to convey his articulations are difficult at best for me.

    Any thoughts on how you try to show this?
    Attached Images Attached Images Any advice on transcribing other instruments besides guitar?-saxtab-png 

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  3. #2

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    That little passage is very idiomatic to the saxophone - there's no terribly accurate or useful way of notating it , it's far more easily perceived aurally .
    That said , there are ways of notating ghost notes and false fingerings - that group of 16th note triplets could have o and + put over them although even then it's only an approximate representation of what he really does which is half ghost note , half lip slur .

    Are you writing it for a sax player to read ?

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    I guess I'm really talking about saxophone. I'm working on a blues piece with Hank Crawford, and I'm finding sometimes a sax player really has some articulations that I'm unsure how to notate.

    The piece is here:


    I'm done with the sax solo, but I'm not entirely happy with a couple parts....ie: @3:07 he does this lick where he sounds like he's bending the notes...I attached the part I notated, but I'm really at kind of a loss how to show it. I believe the notes are correct, but trying to convey his articulations are difficult at best for me.

    Any thoughts on how you try to show this?
    Forget about how to write it down, try figuring out how to play it on your axe instead!

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pycroft
    That little passage is very idiomatic to the saxophone - there's no terribly accurate or useful way of notating it , it's far more easily perceived aurally .
    That said , there are ways of notating ghost notes and false fingerings - that group of 16th note triplets could have o and + put over them although even then it's only an approximate representation of what he really does which is half ghost note , half lip slur .

    Are you writing it for a sax player to read ?
    I'm transcribing it for guitar (hence the tab), just trying to learn how other instruments approach jazz.

    I suppose ghost note might be a good way to put some of those notes. I guess since I don't understand how the sax player makes that sound, it's a littler harder. I tried to show it by a slide into the note, but perhaps a slide from the ghosted note would be more appropriate.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Forget about how to write it down, try figuring out how to play it on your axe instead!
    Of course it's not possible to get it exact, but I think you can approximate it. I'm more interested in learning what he plays and correlating it to guitar. I found it's really not all that different from the way a guitar player would do things. IE: there's not a lot of strange intervals that would be difficult to finger on the guitar.

    I'm onto the Bob DeVos guitar solo today. It's the main reason I wanted to transcribe this one, but I got a little sidetracked by Hank Crawford.

  7. #6

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    I had a ton of fun at one point transcribing some Chet Baker. I did his solo on "But Not For Me" as well as 3-4 choruses of "Summertime." He's pretty easy to transcribe notation-wise, but that feel is really hard to capture. But Baker will also give you some fresh ideas that sound nice and are generally pretty easy to play.

  8. #7

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    Piano is always cool, but can be very difficult because of solo/comping going on at the same time. I did a Bill Evans solo (I've Got You Under My Skin) from one of the duo albums with Jim Hall. He didn't play left hand, while Hall comped, so it was easier to hear exactly what he was doing. Piano can't do all the stylistic slides/bends/slurs/ghost notes, so that helped. I did the transcription using MuseScore, then imported the MIDI data into a pro Tools session along side the original recording and did a tempo map. With the MIDI piano lined up, beat by beat, with the audio, it was easy to check for accuracy. BTW - It was amazing how consistent their tempo was.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottM
    Piano is always cool, but can be very difficult because of solo/comping going on at the same time.
    I did Wynton Kelly's solo in Freddie Freeloader and found it fairly easy, I think mostly because as you pointed out, a pianist doesn't have all the articulations other instruments might have.

  10. #9

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    I've spent a bunch of times really notating things exactly. Thing is, especially with an instrument like alto sax, the articulations and techniques that contribute to that "slippery" kinda feel you can get, are somewhat specific to the instrument. Here's where I've personally gotten to after 20+ years of transcribing bebop horn players:

    1) Use transcribing to learn the language: note choices, phrasing. Note where "special effects" like bends, shakes, fall-offs, trills, etc occur, but don't spend too much time getting notation for these things correct, unless the goal is publishing an accurate transcription.

    2) All jazz musicians play rhythmic figures that are very difficult to notate: Charlie Parker in particular will get in some strange note combinations by pushing and pulling against the beat with double time phrases. I've found it valuable to learn to play along with these things, but less valuable to notate, it's why you see things like quintuplets in transcriptions. I'm not sure any bebop era musicians practiced playing quintuplets and inserting them into their solos, I do think they worked on pushing and pulling against the beat.

    3) Learn things that are idiomatic to your instrument by studying the great players of your instrument. For bebop guitar, Wes, Charlie Christian, George Benson, Grant Green all have idiomatic things that lay well on the guitar. Playing things that are idiomatic on the alto sax on the guitar is achievable, but can sound forced, and you can play great bebop without doing this sort of imitation. I personally sort of avoided studying guitarists early on, and I feel this hurt my development a bit.

    4) Learn enough about other instruments to understand what's easy/hard for them: certain intervallic lines are very difficult on trumpet, rapid stacatto passages are difficult for sax, etc. Additionally, learn enough about the guitar to understand its limitations in this music.