Saxophone Forum


by barimachine
(323 posts)
9 years ago

transcription troubles

after a night of bad practicing and almost as if i went tone deaf when transcribing i need help or atleast want to hear your opinions how do you transcribe, whats your method what are some easy transcriptions blah blah blah any thoughts and all that jazz

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  1. by jamterry
    (573 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: transcription troubles

    Don't transcribe solos. It's a waste of time. It's ok to write chord charts. You need to know what to play over. Take it piece by piece with the recording. My teacher stood me by the record player with a Coltrane record. He yanked the needle off and ond within a few minutes I was rolling some nice scales. That is a practice tool, but make these scales and chord spellings your own!!!! Just play and make sure you feel it. I could have learned fingerings, scales and chords anywhere, but my teacher said "If you don't feel it play it"

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    1. by jamterry
      (573 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: transcription troubles

      When you get in a jam, there will be some anxious moments at times. Find your way around cautiously and when you get on solid ground LET IT FLY!!!! Best of luck to you :)

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    2. by knorter
      (205 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: transcription troubles

      Jamterry- Do you just mean not to write down solos and study them or do you actually mean don't learn solos from recordings at all? I define transcribing as learning a solo or portions of a solo that was played by someone else. I want to make sure I understand what you are suggesting before replying.

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      1. by jamterry
        (573 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: transcription troubles

        Kristy I wrote to you and didn't post. Let me try Again

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        1. by jamterry
          (573 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: transcription troubles

          Kristy I like standing by the stereo or radio if i can run to my horn fast enough. I agree with everything you say. You have a real intellectual approach. You explain things very well. I will write this in two parts Kristy

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        2. by jamterry
          (573 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: transcription troubles

          Kristy sorry to put you through this. When I was 11, I learned to play blues and boogie on the piano. I then sat at the piano with my saxophone and learned those licks. I wanted to play jazz, so my teacher stood me by the stereo. That's how I learned to play other people's stuff. I never had time to write, as I was under the gun. It was what an invaluable learning experience. This method eliminates writing, learning, and memorizing. It is all done at the same time by ear.

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        3. by knorter
          (205 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: transcription troubles

          Jamterry-- I hear you. I was just making sure you weren't telling people not to learn from recordings. I know your love of this music and respect from your posts so I was pretty sure we just had a different definition of transcribe. Thanks for clarifying. Take care. Kristy

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        4. by jamterry
          (573 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: transcription troubles

          Hey Kristy, It is a pleasure to meet you :) Terry

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        5. by knorter
          (205 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: transcription troubles

          Likewise

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      2. by CajunSax
        (76 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: transcription troubles

        for u bari-man... the best way to think of it is in "semi-tones". A lot of teachers and musicians make the mistake of telling Tenor & Soprano players "It's a step higher than piano/guitar pitch". This gets confusing around C and F though, which have no flats. That's why Concert B-flat is Tenor C (go up 2 half-steps, or semi-tones). This way works best to keep u from skipping accidentals (those black keys on your piano) On Alto and Bari - which are keyed in E-flat...u go the other direction...this time THREE SEMITONES. SO concert B-flat is Bari G. I use the term Concert, piano, & guitar interchangeably when talking about pitch. Also, ,obviously Bari is an octave lower than Alto and Soprano is an octave higher than Tenor... but it's all the same B-flat or E-flat...know what I mean. There's a cool software program that lets u scan in sheet music (even handwritten) and it can transpose it to whatever you need. It's called Music Publisher. www.muspub.com - I use version 32...there's a free download of version 5 (which is a more advanced version, even though the number is lower than 32) on their site. Kind-of a investment at about $150 if i recall. So long story short...go UP TWO SEMI-TONES for Tenor or Soprano (B-flat instruments); go DOWN THREE SEMI-TONES for Alto or Bari (E-flat instruments). Hope I was helpful.

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        1. by barimachine
          (323 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: transcription troubles

          haha yea i know that sorry i may not have made this clear i meant solo transcripitions not transposition of music I have done both before but i was having trouble last night trying to play a song i could have sworn i had transcribed before, apparently not well so I was wondering what methods people use to transcribe there solos

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          1. by CajunSax
            (76 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: transcription troubles

            nothin is better than your ear

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            1. by knorter
              (205 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              Barimachine--here's my 2 cents about transcribing. Some of the most important reasons for transcribing include: ear training, sound and articulation development, phrasing, swing or jazz feel, and vocabulary. Yes you can get a machine to slow things down, and there are computer programs that will figure everything out but in the end the old-fashioned way is the best for delivering all of these benefits to our playing. I find a recording of a solo that really speaks to me--if you don't like the piece so much then you won't be as motivated to spend the time. I would pick a tune to which you can easily find the chord progression: blues, rhythm changes etc... This is very important. Also pick a medium to up swing tune at first. Ballads are deceptively hard. Most people think because it's slow it's easier but they don't take into account the rhythmic complexity of a ballad. Next play the solo on your stereo until you can practically sing along with the player. This is the first step to developing your ears. This could take days or weeks depending on your memory. Once you can almost sing along. Get out some manuscript paper and write out the chord progression above some blank measures. These chords may help in a pinch. For example you can't figure out whether it's an F or F# until you notice that it's a D min chord so you make the intelligent decision to try F first. It may save some time. Then you literally start the recording and pause after the first note or two. Sing what you heard and then find it on the horn. Rhythms take awhile to learn to notate as well--maybe figure out the rhythm of each measure or two first and write just the rhythm on a separate sheet of paper until you know the right notes as well. It will take a long time when you first start but pretty soon if you make yourself keep trying, you'll notice that you can hear an entire phrase all at once. If you have to pause the recording after every note then do it. It's is not easy at first but totally necessary. Once you get a chorus or two written out, make sure you play along with it. I usually memorize it as well. Give your brain time to remember, this may take a few weeks to get it right. Everyday you learn a little more. It is not practical to think that you will retain a solo from memory in a day or two. Maybe someday that will be realistic but for now set a goal of 1-2 choruses a week, maybe even longer if this is new to you. Once the whole thing is memorized then we can talk about applying to your playing. Write back when you have something memorized so we can take it to the next level. Good luck.

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            2. by golferguy675
              (600 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              If you're just off to a rough start, there's a program called Transcribe! that could give you a little boost. After a couple of songs, you'll probably find that you don't even need it anymore. What it lets you do, is select the wavelengths that you want to transcribe(so just highlight on lick) and you can slow it down as much as you need. Also, I used to transcribe and just keep it in memory, and not write it down. You get a lot more out of it by figuring out the exact rythms. I just got done transcribing the changes to Have You Met Miss Jones, the melody, and Chet Baker's solo(not so easy on alto). Good luck

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            3. by barimachine
              (323 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              yea i have transcribed before but not enough so that i think my system is perfect and yea ive heard of transcribe its just that it was taking me forever and i was thinking maybe my system of doing it was messed up and i should try something new, i was trying to do cotton tail by ben webster which should be easy but i could even get the second bar of the bridge because as i new the bane of my existance is little triplet gracish sort of notes I also dont right mine down, i was also made because my stereo was breaking and everyone else i know (not really but seems like it) can transcribe maybe 4 solos a week and can play them all in all 12 keys btw i have a nomad zen which has a slowdown feature not quite as good as transcribe but it does the job, i also dont practice with a computer near by

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            4. by TANGO SIX ONE
              (255 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              The Knights Templar in response to Knorter; yes alot of good free advice.But our view is that the knights favour the traditional and for us the only way to do it right.Use of your ear.When you want to take someones solo to check it out,cut out the bit about writing it down.You should go straight from hearing to playing.No matter how difficult this appears to be.it isnt if you believe.Remember at the end of the day if you want to be a jazz player first and foremost you have to be you,no one else.Go to where live jazz is played as often as you can and live it.This music isnt for the faint hearted.Once your committed the job becomes easy (Bird Lives)

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            5. by knorter
              (205 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              Tango--I agree that the ear is the best way but I was also responding specifically to Bari's problem. He said he couldn't remember it so I took a wild guess that he may be more visually trained (an unfortunate bi-product of band programs today in school systems) By writing down the transcription he may be able to break through some of the visual tendencies. The writing down part is for analysis not performance. Having a written record of all of your solos is good for reviewing them a few years down the road and can be great tools for teaching others. I don't advise playing transcriptions out of a book because we both know that you'd miss so much information. The only other reason I would advocate writing down solos is for the beginner to learn how and when to use material that is taken from others. If a student cannot identify that a certain material Bird played works over a dominant chord then the student will forever use the material incorrectly. You are absolutely correct that the best way is by ear but the fastest way to learn any material and convert it from short-term to long-term and cognitive memory is to attack it from as many sides as possible. We definitely agree about the importance of ear training. Kristy

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            6. by CajunSax
              (76 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              i agree with the knights for the first time...i think ...ummm ever!! Kristy is right also...no one is wrong here. Except me eariler when I thought he just needed to know how to transpose. haha The rule should be like this...u gotta be able to hum or sing the phrase if u want to ever play it. Then u hear it in your head while you play it. And on the flip side...u should be able to PLAY anything that you can hum, sing, or whistle. This is all ear training. The only time i write out anything is for a student or if a fellow musician wants it. I havent used sheet music since high school.

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            7. by barimachine
              (323 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              yea i know alot of players like that, unfortunatly ive been training in the schools DAMN THOSE SCHOOLS! and I have to learn how to sight read really well and all that so alot of kids arent trained to play by ear. unfortunatly, the kids that are taught the read, only maybe two of them in the school me and my friend can really read chord symbols and know what that means so they are really getting screwed in that they can do anything that matters right anymore. ah!

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            8. by Conn-man
              (11 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              Kristy, how many solos do you think you have transcribed over time? Do you still do it a lot? I can see how transcribing can be immensely helpful, but as a non-professional musician (meaning I have to do other things to earn money) I can't imagine putting in the time I would need to just to transcribe one solo!

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            9. by barimachine
              (323 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              i know that alot of musicians dont necissarly transcribe the whole thing, it is all about the ear training and learning the key licks to learn, when ive asked musicians they say that they study musicians who taught them and who there off shoots are and they go through a few lineages to get there own style and reallly really study these guys then they dont spend as much time on the others but listen to the key advice i got from tim warfield i believe i cant remember exactly but the jist is "No, I hate to practice, I don;t know anyone that likes to practice. That is they don't like it if they are doing it right; because if you're practicing the stuff you hate, it's probably what you are worst at, and then you are really getting better!"

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            10. by knorter
              (205 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              Jim, Without counting I know I have 3 manuscript pads full. Maybe 45-60 but only 20 or so have been learned to the extent that they should--meaning once everything is memorized and really played I then dissect the solo and learn sections in 12 keys etc... and then plant the stolen ideas into other tunes when I encounter the same progression. That's the part that really builds your vocabulary quickly. I usually get 6-10 ideas from each solo at least. You multiply that by 10 solos and suddenly your vocabulary is really expanding. I think you could be very successful just doing a few solos like that. Once you get the idea of the dissection then you can just take bits and pieces out of a solo without necessarily learning the whole thing. You'd be surprised how fast I bet you could learn a solo especially if you do the listening part ahead of time. Pick a solo and just play it in the car back and forth to work and gigs. Keep singing with it until you know every note by heart. Then I'd bet you could get at least 8 measures a day without having to spend too much time. I wish I had the ability to practice at that intensity still. It's ironic that my gigs get in the way of my practicing. Maybe we should do a transcription project on the site. Any ideas? ps--give me a few more days and I'll try to hook up a link for some of my playing--It's been a busy week. I haven't forgotten.

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            11. by connsaxman_jim
              (2336 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              When I was playing guitar more often, I would transcribe solos and chart chord progressions all the time. I would listen to the song and chart the chords mostly by ear. I do less transcribing now because like you Kristy, I have stolen enough parts from other solo's that I can usually find something that fits the progression and works, even if it isn't exactly like the original recording.

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            12. by Conn-man
              (11 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              Thanks! I guess I thought you were just working on writing down a solo. But by dissecting it and playing it in all 12 keys you really would get a lot out of it. I'll need to do a lot more ear training to get to the point that I can hear the solo and the progression under it. But I do think a short exercise in transcription (at band camp) would be useful--atleast to try it under experienced supervision.

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            13. by dudz
              (4 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              Kristy, Great Advice about transcription. If there is a "magic pill" this is it. After reading your process, it sounds like we may have had the same teacher. Have you studied with Lieb? Best, Dudz

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            14. by knorter
              (205 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              Dudz, No but I've worked at some clinic and camps where he is the guest performer/lecturer and I've picked his brain a bit. I'd say David Baker was the one who really got me going in this direction.

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            15. by altosax
              (19 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              how do you figure out the chords? isn't it hard?

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            16. by knorter
              (205 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              Learning chords can be hard at first. First learn the melody so you know the length of the chord progression. When you listen to a rhythm section the bass player is almost always going to play the root of a chord first whenever a new chord comes up. If you listen to a piece try identifying when a new chord happens and then try to transcribe the bass note at the beginning. Don't worry about the rest of the notes that a bassplayer uses for now. Basically you'll end up with a progression of roots. Once you get good at this skill, then listen to the comping instrument (piano or guitar) they will play the type of chord. Since you will already know the bass then it becomes an educated guess. Figure out the major and minor 3rd of whatever bass note you are on. See which one fits better. If it's a major 3rd then play a flat 7 and a major 7 and see which chord is right. Trial and error until you develop your ears. If you are good at ear training this step may not be necessary. Good luck, sorry this is rambling a little. I'll read it back later and try to clarify.

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          2. by BlueTrain
            (6 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: transcription troubles

            Anyone who tells you NOT to transcribe is a "damn fool." I talked with Eric Alexander, Charles McPherson and Lew Tabackin, and they all stressed the importance of transcribing. Eric Alexander said that your practice routine should consist of "excercises to improve your sound, TRANSCRIBING, practicing patterns and licks in all keys, and learning tunes." I also talked with Reed Kotler - a professional transcriber who has done stuff for such magazines as Jazz Improv Magazine. He suggested to transcribe ONE note at a time - to assure you get the most correct transcription you can. He said to WRITE it down unless you have a photographic memory. He said to follow along with what you have written down while you playback the recording (to catch any errors you could have made). They all said that easier stuff to transcribe would be Chet Baker (especially the Chet Baker sings album). Hank Mobley is also easier to transcribe. Try to find people who are very CLEAR and that you can keep up with. Good Luck with your future transcribing.

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            1. by jamterry
              (573 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: transcription troubles

              i've played for so many years and nobody ever called me fool until now. when i make suggestions they are only opinions. I never disrespect anyone here in the forum. In addition to writing down ONE note at a time, please be more polite. Best of luck to you :)

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              1. by jamterry
                (573 posts)

                9 years ago

                Re: transcription troubles

                If you have a recording , why would you write it down? You can take it ONE note at a time off the recording. Does that make sense to anyone? You can go over and over it, which will commit it memory. Late

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                1. by dudz
                  (4 posts)

                  9 years ago

                  Re: transcription troubles

                  Jamterry, Once you have it on paper it is easier to study, analyze, etc. Once you have played the solo WITH the recording several hundred times to absorb all of the things that can't be written, i.e. time feel, etc, then you can look at the solo in the same way our classical brothers and sisters look at scores. Find the motives, patterns, licks, scales, chords and make exercises out of these. You will be developing your own vocab, but you're doing it through the vocab of a master.

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              2. by BlueTrain
                (6 posts)

                9 years ago

                Re: transcription troubles

                I never called you a fool. I was only quoting Harold Mabern, a great jazz pianist. Notice the quotation marks. I never directed what was said to anyone. I too was only offering information and opinions. Now, rather than make fun of you like you did to me, I will end this post. All the best. Sorry for any misunderstandings.

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                1. by jamterry
                  (573 posts)

                  9 years ago

                  Re: transcription troubles

                  I have never made fun of anyone here.

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