Saxophone Forum


by spottspidermunki
(55 posts)
8 years ago

Importance of Transcriptions

I just want to get some feedback from the serious jazz players of the group. How many transcriptions have you personally done? Do you write them out? How many have you bought and learned? Which tunes did you pick for transcription, and why? Do you favor a particular musician? Do you transpose the solos to all keys, and if so, do you write them out seperately, or try to do it in your head? I ask, because it seems to me that the frequency of personal transcription is slowly diminishing. I assume before transcription books, or jazz method books, transcription was the bread-and-butter of jazz education. I guess I'm hoping that hearing from the professionals out here will motivate me to transcribe more often. ; ) thanks Joel

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  1. by jamterry
    (573 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Importance of Transcriptions

    Hi Joel, First of all don't think about number of tunes, but rather learn the stuff that makes you feel good. In the course of your learning , you will retain the stuff you like and discard the the stuff you don't like. also learn the stuff off the records without stopping to write. Get someone to work your sound source and go over and over it. I had a teacher that could write out of his head , and that was cool. He used to accompany me on piano when I played saxophone. The average person cannot write like that. Eventually you need to try some composing , which will really help you. There will come a time when you can pull out your horn and hear the notes before you play them, but that takes a lot of practice and live playing. No matter how much experience and talent you have, you will get fooled once in a while. The problem with getting too experienced is that you will establish a comfort zone for your solos. I have to kick myself in the pants sometimes to be more adventurous. As far as learning on your own, writing solos and songs down is double work. You don't have to worry about how to count it, if it's in your head. All this stuff I'm saying is regarding learning songs, licks , and solos. This has nothing to do with formal studies. My disclaimer :) I wish that I could explain this better , but I am uneducated. Good luck Joel :) Terry

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    1. by Dark Eyes
      (138 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Importance of Transcriptions

      I seem to rely more on the method of learning by ear off of recordings rather than by actual writing down. It works better for me this way. I don't think that I've ever written down something I was trying to learn by ear. It just stays with me and I don'r forget it. Some of my favorite pieces that I have learned by ear are: The Eternal Triangle (Sonny Side Up), Moritat (Sax. Colosus), Dexter Gordon's I guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry, Three o'clock in the morning, cheesecake and Second Balcony Jump, Dancing in the Dark (Cann. Add.), Ko Ko, Tenor Madness, The Girl from Ipanema, Some of Giant Steps, and Naima. These are some of my personal favorites that I have learned by ear. I also whole heartily agree with Terry in that what like to play will be retained much longer that what you learn but don't enjoy as much. So, in case, you should focus on what you like to play rather than feel obligated to learn stuff you don't like just because they are the "quintessential standards." I seem to have forgotten the original question :-/ Oh well. Good luck on whatever you asked. Cheers, Dark Eyes (unloved thesis)

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      1. by saxmachine777
        (57 posts)

        8 years ago

        Re: Importance of Transcriptions

        Now, I just want to get this straight. Are you asking about tune transcriptions/learning tune heads by ear, or are you talking about transcribing solos? They use the same tools in transcription, but are quite different due to spontinaety and expression/liberty taken in many solos. I've done several transcriptions of both, though the most recent, and probably my favorite to transcribe, was the head and Jimmy Heath tenor solo for "24-Hour Leave" off of the Julian Priester album "Keep Swingin'". In the scheme of solo transcription, I think it's good medicine (but fun too) to transcribe Miles Davis solos. They usually come easily to the ear (as opposed to trying to hear a long blistering bop line out of Sonny or Trane), and have brilliant harmonic choices. Although to get your bop fingers working along with your ear, those monster sax solos are a nice challenge :-)

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