Incorporating transcribing into your routine

(14 posts)
  1. surfinboy
    Member

    I feel the pull of a lot of musical duties, and good transcribing has gone to the back burner for a while. I want to bring it back and get more mileage out of it. So the big questions I know many of us struggle with (at least I do) - I'll throw them out there and just would like to see what people have to share about their experiences:

    - Notation vs. ear. I always try to do it by ear, away from the instrument more these days, but I'm working on a lead sheet in Finale as I go through the transcription.
    - How do you break down a transcription task? Do you do a chorus at a time? A few phrases? Do you do the entire thing, or just a few bars? Obviously when I listen to a solo, there's usually a particular section or just a couple lines that really grab me. But I feel compelled to do the whole thing, because later on I may refer back to it because of something else in a different section.
    - Because I'm a logical, organized, somewhat obsessive personality, I like to get the entire thing notated which, isn't the most musical per se, but at least I'm getting it documented. If another musical duty comes up I can always shelve it for later. For me, the learning/internalizing of the solo is a very long process, and I'd rather dedicate that as a separate process.

    What are everyone's thoughts?

  2. jorgemg1984
    Member

    Transcribing is indeed vey important - maybe the more important thing amongst playing with others, ear training and developing your own voice.

    I never understood the notation vs ear thing... IMO you should do both: memorize it, sing it a lot and try to understand what is happening before you play the guitar. Then learn it on the guitar. And then in the end notate it - notating solos is like taking a picture, there's lot of stuff I just get by writing it. This way you get the best of both worlds I think.

    IMO all steps are important. Learning to sing the solo helps your ear (perception and memory) a lot and you start to understand thing buest by hearing music. Learning it on the instrument makes you play new things, forces your finger to play in different places and to rest on different beats. Writing helps you analize it.

    I also think the post-transcribing thing is important also. I try to grab the phrases I like and practice them in the twelve tones and start to making them mine by changing things. If there's a new concept I didn't know I also try to make an exercise out of it to apply it in other musical situations.

    Finally diversity in transcribing is very important and it's the biggest mistake people make - they transcribe the same things too many times. Transcribe different instruments, different players in the same instrument, different periods of the same player, different periods of the jazz history, solos on different tunes (standards, blues, beops, modern,..), etc...

    Hope this helps!

    PS - Read this Liebman article on the subject

    http://www.daveliebman.com/Feature_Articles/transcription.pdf

  3. andyjazz
    Member

    My only advice would be to transcribe things that you really love, because there might be moments when the solo is truly driving you crazy because you cn't get a certain part right, or whatever; and, also only transcribe that which you want in your playing. There's all this great music out there, but you need to decide who you let into your imagination and your playing.

    Also, if you can play it perfectly with the recording, you may not need to notate it. If you really know something, meaning you can play it at any moment you want, then it doesn't matter how you got there, as long as you're there.

    The only other point I guess I would make is to just transcribe, and all of your questions will be answered.

  4. Matt
    Member

    just to play devil's advocate:
    -dont not transcribe to the point of only playing other players' licks and ideas. transcribing is great, but do not become a computer for what you've transcribed.
    -try transcribing your own ideas. sit with the paper, or a recorder, and write/sing a solo over a tune.
    -dont forget to ENJOY the music and not constantly dissect it. a part of our art is dissection and analysis, but dont forget the beauty, the intuition of it.

  5. andyjazz
    Member

    Another thing too is once you think you know a transcription, play it a half step out with the recording.

  6. yaclaus
    Member

    transcribe from tunes you´re working on and not just some arbitrary solo you put in the trash can after having it transcribed.

  7. surfinboy
    Member

    Thanks, this is all really helpful. That Dave Liebman thing is fantastic!

  8. mattymel
    Member

    I've been on a kind of transcribing bender for a while now and i think it has helped. to the point where im worried I'm not doing enough other stuff. but one thing i learned is that it is WAY quicker to learn the solo by ear, get all the fingering stuff together, and THEN write it down. the longest one ever took me was when i wrote down as i was figuring it out, and THEN memorized it. bad idea.

    lately I've also been trying to learn at least one tune by ear a day (at least the changes). just to get better at hearing changes on the fly. highly recommend that as well.

  9. surfinboy
    Member

    I hear you Matt. I wish I had the time or discipline to learn one new tune a day. I really have to listen to the tune and let it hit me on a gut level before I get down to business and actually learn it - that might take a day, it might take me a year. Like Stablemates - I've been coming back to that one every now and then, but it took me years of listening to it on records, etc. and I had to let it grow on me before I gave it the attention it deserves.

    My feeling is that for a lot of people like me, if we can make our transcribing a little more disciplined and systematic, it will force us to become more focused. Like for me, one solo a month would be manageable. I move at my own pace, whatever that is. Probably really damn slow!

  10. Matt
    Member

    well, even dave liebman advocates thorough transcription of only 4-6 solos. i think it is overkill to 'learn one tune a day' or 'one solo a month'; i at least cant get shit done in that rigid mindset

    sometimes my practice is taking a walk, driving through the industrial parts of town, being with my girlfriend, reading... i think there's a lot of stuff outside of music that, ultimately, needs practice too! it's all those moments of life that we try to express with our music, and so to me, i try not to make practicing between the same walls for hours and hours a massive priority.

    that being said, yeah, we all gotta practice a lot and transcribe a lot and learn a ton of tunes and we do have to make, at some point, practicing between the same walls for hours and hours a massive priority. ;-)

  11. Matt, what a huge point. I have felt that advertising sold me on that if I'm not riding the crest of the wave then my life is shit. Often, I'm waiting for the bus and other mundane moments. This is a bulk of life and to just turn off and somnambulate through stuff just because it's not an orgasm is to really be making a conscious decision to not be open to experiencing more present and rich moments and moreover an admission that I accept the advertiser's message. When I train my self to only want to engage with life with a guitar or a beer and a cigarette or sex and decided to turn off when mopping a floor I've made a scheme which will make life diss appointing if I'm not in these peak experiences.whose to say I would do these other things well if I can't attenuate my self to finding a way to be present in any act? While I'm here shouldn't I be on full force no matter what I'm doing ? Like some gymnast who not only focuses intently on their routine and crazy triple dismount but also on the way they are taping up their ankle; a high resolution through it all. If this gets trained well , I will absorb more and be able to give informed responses to what is going on. I'm gravitating more and more to players that demonstrate this rather than someone who works on jaw dropping passages and impressive tricks, especially in improvised music. The jaw dropping stuff is cool for written out stuff. I can hear it in my own playing and others aswell- quoting heavy stuff that's a little beyond my grasp or skill level just sounds funny when surrounded by what I can do at my current skill level.

  12. jorgemg1984
    Member

    Excellent point Matt! I used to be too obsessive with practicing... in the last year and a half I have been much more relaxed and it has been pretty good to me, I enjoy more and end up being more relaxed and creative. I still think you need to be really obsessive in order to be a great player but you also need to relax and enjoy life or you will end up being bitter about life. Music is not worth to sacrifice all the good things in life - something I learned the hard way sometimes.

    (I hope no one reads this as "don't practice just enjoy!")

  13. jbroad
    Member

    as keith jarrett says: "music doesn't come from music"

  14. mattymel
    Member

    hey Jack B! just made the connection. good to see ya! virtually...
    when i hear that jarret quote i think more in terms of "finding" inspiration outside of music more than a warning NOT to transcribe. but i have also heard many a "great" say they never really transcribed much, if at all. so...

    for me the whole transcribing thing is a way of REALLY getting into the feel of a certain player. i don't think i would ever naturally be able to play like Wayne if i didn't sit down and try and PLAY along with him. my whole thing is to play along with a solo a hundred times until i feel like i am getting all the right nuances with the fingerings, write it out (mainly for closure), and basically forget it, move on to something else with a totally different feel. i know a lot of guys will take licks and move them around. i haven't done that since i first started.

    though my favorite transcribing moments are when something is cool sounding enough that i want to figure it out, only to find out that the reason i dug it was that one of the notes was WAY out of tune. things like that always just open my thinking up and make me like playing.


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