The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  1. #1

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    A nice open ended question.....

    I was just transcribing the solo to Freddie Freeloader and noticed that although the music would be notated in 8th notes Miles actually varies the speed of some passages by quite a bit. I don't mean by the usual crescendo for an ascending passage but the actual timing of some passages is not quite 8th notes though they are very, very close. Apart from the great feel it is precisely this phrasing which sets the world class players apart imo (feel free to argue this in another thread).

    Anyhow I'm not a real jazz player although I do use jazz concepts in my playing. I do want to improve my 'real' jazz playing and have decided to learn by ear since I already know a good bit of theory.

    So I ask ye good gentlemen (and ladies!!) how would you put together a transcription program which tackles harmony and solo playing for not just guitar but other instruments as well?

    As I see it I would just work out some solo lines and the harmony underneath then play, what I've transcribed, along to the tune.. I would then start to improvise around the transcription until what I'm improvising sounds good.

    I would also work out why the transcription sounds like it does from a theoretical point of view ie chord tones with passing tones, enclosure around the 3rd etc.

    What else would you guys do?


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Your plan looks fine.

    One thing that has helped me is a kind of before and after introspection. Sort of like this:

    - a tune has something in it I want to learn, a section of soloing or chord changes
    - before I start, I don't know how to play the thing
    - I grab the guitar and feel how it feels not to be able to play the thing
    - I "force" a test trial that in 5 seconds I will try to play it (but I can't)
    - I think about what is missing, what is preventing me from playing it

    At this point in the "before stage", I know that about 10 minutes from now I'll be able to play it, but what I want to do later is compare that "after feeling" with this present "before feeling". So I try to capture this "before being able to play it" feeling in ways that later I will be able to reach. I try to make this vivid by pushing and pressing this "before feeling" by doing the the 5 second test - what are my hands thinking? what is my mind feeling? why don't I know how it goes?

    Then I learn the thing.

    - Afterwards, I repeat the things from the before part
    - I grab my guitar and feel in my hands and mind how it feels to be able to play the thing
    - I force a test trial that in 5 seconds I will play it (and succeed)
    - I think about what was missing before, what is new and available now, what was preventing me before but which is now clear, what has changed

    At this point in the "after stage", I know that 10 minutes earlier I could not play it, and what I want to do now is raise that feeling from before and compare it to now, now that I can play it.

    - from the 5 second test, what is it my hands think, my mind feels, how I think it goes... how is it that I can now do what 10 minutes ago I could not?
    - I don't just ask, I try to compare the before and after to find what changed

    I started doing this a long time ago, at first out of introspective curiosity, later coming to find that it helped figuring out new things by ear. This process does not provide answers to the questions! It helps promote internal abstract connections, which means you don't grasp them directly as answers. The more you do it, taking your time and trying hard, the more you learn how to do it, and the more it works.

    If you used this same process with regard to sheet music, or charts, lead sheets, TAB, lesson plans, or book methods, the answers to "what changed?" from before to after would all refer to your relationship to external things (prepared subject matter content) rather than inner things.

    Playing music by ear is constructing things from parts of your inner self, parts made out of the stuff of yourself, stuff only familiar and available and instantaneous to yourself. Playing by ear is communicating with this stuff and it takes practice learning how to do that. The way you know it is working is not when your questions get directly answered, it is when indirect inner connections are formed from pondering the questions and comparing the before and after feelings.

    Progress will indicate it's working when you play and your level of perceived effort begins to feel more effortless, the speed at which you recognize things begins to feel more instantaneous, and your confidence in what you effortlessly and instantaneously construct begins to feel more certain.
    Last edited by pauln; 05-02-2021 at 10:38 PM.

  4. #3
    Thanks Paul.

    That makes sense, the intangibles as it were.

    I think that a lot of subconscious learning is done when transcribing and bookending transcribing with your technique will only improve the subconscious learning so thanks for your post.

  5. #4

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    a transcription program which tackles harmony and solo
    Sorry, I'm not sure what that means. What do you mean by a transcription program? Something on the computer?

    Re. playing, every single thing we ever do goes in... but none of us will ever be anybody else.

  6. #5

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    To get a classic jazz sound, you have to listen to a lot of jazz.

    The next step depends on who you ask, but most players will suggest copying solos (not that they all did) and some teachers will suggest singing them before you try to play them. Most will suggest being very careful to nail the time-feel.

    It may help to start by copying players who don't play a lot of notes. Hank Mobley, Paul Desmond and Stan Getz would be good choices, if you like that kind of jazz. On guitar, maybe Peter Bernstein? Or go back to Charlie Christian.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    To get a classic jazz sound, you have to listen to a lot of jazz.
    Just like any other style of music!

    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Or go back to Charlie Christian.
    One can never go wrong studying CC's playing.