Saxophone Forum


by knorter
(205 posts)
9 years ago

Response to Alex about Transcribing

Alex, Your email address kept bouncing back my response so I thought I'd post instead. First of all make sure you know the chord progression to the tune. Who did you transcribe? What tune? Basically the next step is to remove phrases from the solo that fit very specific chords or progressions and learn these phrases in 12 keys. I'd recommend ii-V or ii-V-I at least for a few because that progression occurs so much. You'll need to find usable parts. Look for phrases that sound good to you (1-4 bar phrases) Then look at the chord or chords and figure out how the notes of the phrase outline or enhance the chords. Maybe the pattern includes some upper extensions like b9 or #4 on dominant chords. I usually think of the phase by numbers for example: if the chords is a d minor chord then I think of F and A as 3 and 5. I'm thinking of the function of these notes so that I could think of the phrase in 12 keys more easily. Developing the ability to play everything you know in 12 keys is really important. After you find a good phrase get out the metronome. When you learn something in 12 keys you should do several things that seem tougher in the beginning but will improve your playing much faster. 1. Start at a really slow tempo and work your way up the metronome. I make a chart of all the metronome markings down the side and all 12 keys across the top. You figure out the phrase at 40 on the metronome in all keys until you don't make any mistakes then you move the metronome up one notch. It's really boring at first but you're really developing your skill. The goal is to play each key flawlessly and even with no glitches in your time or notes. This may take a week or 2 of dedicated practice possibly more but make sure not to rush this. 2. Change the way you work through all 12 keys. Maybe at the first tempo you play the pattern going up in half steps. Meaning you play the phrase in the key of C, then C#, then D. The next time through the keys you should go down in half steps, then around the circle of 5ths, then up and down in whole steps. Every time you change the metronome you should pick a new way of moving through the keys. This teaches your brain to think of using this phrase on a progression. Once you feel really comfortable playing this phrase in 12 keys at a good tempo, you must now use it in tunes. Find standards or jazz tunes that have the same progression--if you transcribed a ii-V-I idea then pick tunes with ii-V-I in the progression. Every time you see ii-V-I play the pattern. Remember this is an exercise so don't feel wierd about playing it all the time. Some standards have ii-V's everywhere in multiple keys so you would be using the pattern alot. Your end goal is to get an idea that sounds really smooth technically and really solid harmonically. Once you learn an idea like that you will start to make it your own by adding notes or changing the rhythm. If you were to get 5-10 ideas from every solo and learn these ideas, after awhile your vocabulary will increase drastically. Initially you'll be learning more simple ideas like ii-V-I or even ideas over the I chord. Eventually you'll start picking harder solos harmonically and learn chord substitutions and ideas that musicians like Trane created. For now that's the basic way to build vocab. The other benefit is in difficult keys or quick tunes you'll have material that sounds great but won't be difficult for you. An example would be the bridge to Have You Met Miss Jones--lots of ii-V patterns moving in some unrelated keys. You can't just play F major over this you would have to learn to play ideas over the ii-V of each key. Does this make sense? Let me know what you think. Good luck. Kristy

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  1. by Broad Sword
    (4 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Response to Alex about Transcribing

    All this sounds fine but if you teach this method then the student will always see boxes in their heads at the point of departure. Sure its great advice but alot of us see it very different.This practice way is very classical in approach to me.Im not saying its wrong its just that the approach is not training to expand correctly.CDS Records live playing and the ear for me are the only way to do it right.

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    1. by knorter
      (205 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: Response to Alex about Transcribing

      Broad Sword- First of all this post is a response to a specific conversation between myself and Alex, I posted this because I couldn't access his email on the day that I responded, therefore some of this is taken out of context. Secondly you mention that this is not the training in order to expand correctly but then you never state the way to expand correctly. Thirdly, there is a difference between the average musician and the major recording artists today in Jazz. I'm talking the elite not just the popular. In order to achieve that level of playing it takes much more effort and knowledge then most of us are aware of. It is disrespectful and naive to think otherwise. The method that I described in Alex's response is not for everyone, it is time consuming and meticulous but it is one of the ways to achieve a higher level of playing. I mean no disrespect to the weekend warrior who plays fine. If you enjoy the music that you make with your instrument then that is all that matters. Jazz is an art form. It is founded in a deep tradition. In order to successfully represent this music a student must learn the rules and then develop their playing beyond these boundaries. It is exactly like learning a language you don't just decide to speak french, listen to a couple of tapes of people speaking french and then start babbling sounds that you think sound like french words. Other people who don't speak french might not be fooled, but those who actually do understand the language would be offended. If you are really going to learn the language then you have to study it from all angles. This is one way to approach this tradition but certainly not the only way.

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