The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    I've been transcribing solos by George Coleman and Bobby Hutcherson on Maiden Voyage and have found some of the rhythms difficult to decode. I'm not notating the rhythm; i'm having trouble replicating subtle rhythms (add Sonny's solo on Woody'N You from Live at the Village Vanguard to the list).

    What is the best course of study to improve this skill? Are there rhythmic studies that I can play that will improve my ability to play/hear/feel/notate subtle complex 16th note and triplet rhythms?

    Thanks,

    Josh

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by josh74
    I've been transcribing solos by George Coleman and Bobby Hutcherson on Maiden Voyage and have found some of the rhythms difficult to decode. I'm not notating the rhythm; i'm having trouble replicating subtle rhythms (add Sonny's solo on Woody'N You from Live at the Village Vanguard to the list).

    What is the best course of study to improve this skill? Are there rhythmic studies that I can play that will improve my ability to play/hear/feel/notate subtle complex 16th note and triplet rhythms?

    Thanks,

    Josh

    I can say early on in my musical training, rhythmic solfège was critical to understanding subdivisions. However, before that I always had good rhythm/ability to play back a rhythm.

    This is a good case of when it's time to put down a guitar, use your voice or just pat on your leg, and take some time simply playing back cool/interesting/difficult rhythms. Once you can truly hear them, translating them to guitar is much easier.

  4. #3

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    There are a couple good method books by Charles Colin and Bugs Bower that provide increasingly complex rhythms in a graduated approach. But IIRC there was a thread about this on JGB recently in which some more comprehensive books and solutions (a rhythmic trainer app, in particular) were discussed. And I recall that @Christian Miller posted some videos about Konnakol. If I can find the thread I'll paste the URL into an updated post.

    UPDATE: I think it's this thread, but if you search "rhythm" you'll come up with quite a few additional ones. This question comes up every now and then :-)

    Rhythm Counting

  5. #4

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    Robert Starer's Rhythmic Training was recommended to me. A small book that I used to study on the subway.

    I think any of these books will also teach you how to recognize whole phrases, much like a shorthand steno. This type of study will do wonders for your reading. It really helps when you can read whole bars of rhythm at a glance and give more of your brain to notes and fingerings.

    And very helpful in learning subdivision. Things like the diff between tied sixteenth note and triplet phrases. Once you know how to read them it's easy to hear them.

    I should really go back to it. I never got all the way through. Too bad my commuting and gigging days are apparantly over... :-)

  6. #5

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    Not a comprehensive method, but a useful tool:

    I have occasionally put a passage into MuseScore so I could hear the playback. At times, I've put in several alternatives to hear which one sounded closest to the recording.

    I can't say it really improved my ability to transcribe rhythms, but I could hear and see the different versions.

    What has helped is a lot of time spent reading a lot of syncopated rhythms.

    From observing advanced players, I got the impression that they had a metronome clicking eighth notes going in their heads at all times. And, each eighth note in the bar had its own obvious identity to them. Over time spent doing a lot of reading in groups, I began to be able to hear that, at least a little better.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by josh74
    I've been transcribing solos by George Coleman and Bobby Hutcherson on Maiden Voyage and have found some of the rhythms difficult to decode. I'm not notating the rhythm; i'm having trouble replicating subtle rhythms (add Sonny's solo on Woody'N You from Live at the Village Vanguard to the list).

    What is the best course of study to improve this skill? Are there rhythmic studies that I can play that will improve my ability to play/hear/feel/notate subtle complex 16th note and triplet rhythms?

    Thanks,

    Josh
    Timely question. I was about to ask the same thing. I have been transcribing Stardust by Lester Young which has fairly simple note choices and the rhythms were kicking my ass. I couldn't tell the difference between partial sixteenth note and triplet phrases. Honestly, this seems like a much harder skill to master than discerning the notes.


  8. #7

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    I think the best thing is just to read a lot. The Bower/Colin book, Rhythms Complete, is a great place to start.

    Once you work through that, there are three etudes books I highly recommend.

    Streamlined Etudes by Harry Huffnagle, books 1 and 2. There may be more.
    Swing Etudes by Ben Paisner

    These etudes are all pretty hip and they're fun to play. The trick is to not keep repeating the same piece. Keep moving through the book so you don't memorize anything. Reading songs in the Real Book isn't much help, because you've probably heard them at one time or another. The thing is to play things you can't predict.

    I also recommend getting a good teacher who's a monster reader. They'll show you a few tricks, point out any rhythmic mistakes and keep you honest.

  9. #8

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    Rythm is at least or most important than notes in jazz. We must feel it when transcribing and try to reproduce when playing along, with more or less success...

    However the transcription is not for sending over to an other time or place and reproduce the original from it without knowing the original. You can transcribe somethin 100% perfect without even writing a note down, just by learning the solo. We do notation with classical scores, because we have no better options. Notation system is not capable to describe the rythm especially not jazz, but not even classical.

    The different counting methods are essential in the first few month, but after learning the basics, triplets etc, the more important to be capable play along with the transcribed solo and the feel. Notation of the rythm is not so important. (I am not talking about a Cage composition of course where this is not the case)

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor
    Rythm is at least or most important than notes in jazz. We must feel it when transcribing and try to reproduce when playing along, with more or less success...

    However the transcription is not for sending over to an other time or place and reproduce the original from it without knowing the original. You can transcribe somethin 100% perfect without even writing a note down, just by learning the solo. We do notation with classical scores, because we have no better options. Notation system is not capable to describe the rythm especially not jazz, but not even classical.

    The different counting methods are essential in the first few month, but after learning the basics, triplets etc, the more important to be capable play along with the transcribed solo and the feel. Notation of the rythm is not so important. (I am not talking about a Cage composition of course where this is not the case)
    I agree, but in my case, I'm struggling to play along with Lester's solo which is relatively simple except for the rhythms. I 'm often slightly late or early when playing a phrase, so the feel isn't there. I was hoping that counting out a particular phrase might help get the phrase down.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlieparker View Post
    I agree, but in my case, I'm struggling to play along with Lester's solo which is relatively simple except for the rhythms. I 'm often slightly late or early when playing a phrase, so the feel isn't there. I was hoping that counting out a particular phrase might help get the phrase down.
    my experience is that counting only helps if I am way lost, mostly after longer pauses. It does not help catching the feel, groove and nuances, which I many times can not reproduce. What may help, listen zillion times, and sing along, at least in head or without the exact notes, just the rythm.

  12. #11

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    this is very similar to my experience with the george coleman solo on Maiden Voyage -- found the notes but couldn't quite match the rhythm. After I consulted this transcription:


    I found i was able to match it (with counting). Hence the focus on learning to transcribe rhythms more effectively.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by josh74 View Post
    this is very similar to my experience with the george coleman solo on Maiden Voyage -- found the notes but couldn't quite match the rhythm. After I consulted this transcription:


    I found i was able to match it (with counting). Hence the focus on learning to transcribe rhythms more effectively.
    Yeah! That was impressive.