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Transcribing parts and solos ....


Mr Pianoman

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what is the best way to approch the art of transcribing parts and solos of songs..

 

I tend to write the parts down as accurately as possible,and I´m noticing that I becomes better and better notating more rhytmic stuff more easier.

 

currently I´m writing down a solo by bud powell to learn more about bebop-style playing.

 

but what can I do exept playing it through, to get most out of it into my own playing..

Transpose it to all keys is 1 thing, but what more....

 

Insert your tips and experiences on this artform or what you call it...

It´s better to play fast then not...
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first of: play the solo along with the record, and make it sound as one piano. that way you practice your phrasing and articulation (unique for bebop) then search for the gold. bud powell is sort of a lick-player. You have probably already notices many of the same melodic lines, maybe over different changes. find as many of his licks and practice them. then try to play up to the lick and again away from the lick. So that you´ve not only learned to play some notes, but have incorporated them in your own playing.

By the way: check out, bud powells solo on Danceland

www.thomas.bryla.dk --- Powerbook 15" 1.5 Ghz G4, Logic Pro 7.1, Mackie Onyx 1640 w/ FW card, Yamaha P-250, WX7, Roland V-Combo, V-Synth, AX7, Korg M1-Bryla
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Geoff Keezer did the following with the first 8 bars of Bud's solo on Parisian Thoroughfare:

 

- Played in octaves

- Played in sixths/thirds

 

I agree with Bryla about isolating licks and then learning them in every key. Sometimes it's more abstract things that you can incorporate into your playing: the general manner of phrasing or articulation, the structure of the solo, how it's built and developed, etc.

 

David

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Nord Electro 5D, Novation Launchkey 61, Logic Pro X, Mainstage 3, lots of plugins, fingers, pencil, paper.

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Originally posted by Mr Pianoman:

currently I´m writing down a solo by bud powell to learn more about bebop-style playing.

Which one? I've written a bunch of his stuff (tunes and solos) down off the records, and I'd be interested to know which one you're working on.

 

As for the rest, I just do the same thing as you, especially as far as writing things down accurately. I don't do anything else, like play the solos with the record or transpose them or isolate "licks" -- I just look at them pretty thoroughly to see what rhythmic and melodic components make the solos sound good or interesting in the first place. I find learning the tunes, like "Parisian Thoroughfare" or "Oblivion" or "The Fruit" (despite the title, it's a nice tune, although I wish it were called something else) is *plenty* enough to give the technique a good workout, and all that, without bothering to play the solos once they're transcribed.

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So what equipment do you use to listen to the record for transcribing?

 

I use an Ipod and it is difficult in my mind because I find it hard to go back a few seconds very quickly. Easier to click on a mouse on a computer but it's just not portable. So I stick with the Ipod. The advantage is that I can do it anytime and anywhere.

 

And do you immediately record it manually on a stave or store in software like Finale?

 

Interested in shortcuts here. Thanks.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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I personally use Transcribe! -- you can customize the keyboard shortcuts to easily loop back and cue ahead and such. I used to use a Sony 1/4" reel player when I was a teenager, and it sucked big time. I was doing a lot of Hampton Hawes and Dr. John then and nothing was accurate -- sure, the ears weren't exactly experienced, but the hassle of using the equipment contributed as well.

 

Is it a drag having to fire up the computer and all that? Yes, it is, but it's way better than using a portable player and fiddling with the clumsy buttons. I'll sometimes try to transcribe just on the fly, with no equipment but a CD player and cans, but the results are *never* as good, not because my relative pitch isn't that good (it's decent, not anything special), but because it's a demanding task that requires the kind of attention to detail that just trying to imitate a phrase via scatting or a pencil isn't going to cut it, unless you have perfect pitch. At least for me, but I've never even heard of anybody without absolute pitch performing accurate transcriptions without slowing the record down, unless it's a simple solo.

 

I never understood quite why people write solos out in notation software -- I've done it, but I'm much happier now that I learned to write neater and quicker in pencil. It looks much better, too, than something out of Finale's freeware version, which is the only thing I had for a long time. Check out Steve Kahn's transcriptions for an idea of what well-written hand notation can look like -- although he seems to do his in pen (show-off!). Much faster, much neater this way, plus way more enjoyable.

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I would definitely recommend learning to sing the part first (unless it's chordal). Obviously you wouldn't really call what I do 'singing' but I hear the proper notes in my head and try to learn the phrasing and nuance by heart before transcribing stuff - or maybe this is obvious and you guys all do this - I'm a relative beginner at it. I find the actual transcription part (writing) sometimes the least useful - but good for analysis.
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J_Tour,

 

Thanks for the lead to Steve Kahn. Never heard of him before. It's helpful to see how others actually write it out. I agree that a computer is the easiest way to transcribe. I'm not familiar with Transcribe. I wish my ITunes can auto-loop a selected portion over and over. When it's really difficult, I convert to a WAV file and loop the selected portion in Ableton Live. Looks like this Transcribe is easier. I'll check it out. The good news with the computer is that I have a little MIDI keyboard that I can use to check out the notes so I can do it away from the big keyboard.

 

 

Phil W, I don't always write it out either. I'm not that formal with it in most cases. But I do get stuck on how to write out the phrasing because some of it can get pretty complex. So I actually separate the note taking from the phrasing. Being a Bass player, you'd appreciate this -- I find I'm making half-step mistakes on the bass transcriptions. It is so hard to hear exactly, especially when it's quick. Acoustic Bass is a little off tune too. But I correct based on known patterns (half step leading tones right?). This is where context is helpful isn't it?

 

I can't do the singing though like you say, because when the lines are very fast, there's just no way I can replicate it with singing. How about singing a bunch of triplets! LOL! :D Actually, my excuse is that I can't sing... :(

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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I use pencil, paper and regular manuscript paper. I try not to use looping or time-stretch software unless I absolutely have to. I've found Transcribe! does work really well (I really like its pitch analyzer, though it's not always 100% accurate), as does Audacity for looping and slowing things down.

 

I always learn my transcriptions from the written along with the recording - most of the things I've transcribed are too complicated for me to fully hear without sitting down and getting everything notated first.

 

David

My Site

Nord Electro 5D, Novation Launchkey 61, Logic Pro X, Mainstage 3, lots of plugins, fingers, pencil, paper.

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half step leading tones right?) uh-huh!

 

The singing thing I got from clinics with guitarist Sheryl Bailey and the great Dave Liebman. Dave recommended the following process:

1 Listen to the musical part over and over and over until you know every nuance by heart.

2 Learn to sing the part with exactly the same expression, nuance, rhythmic phrasing, articulation etc. - Get right inside the playing.

3 Play the part on your instrument as step 2

4 Finally, write out the transcription and analyse the note choice etc.

 

I'll let you know when I actually manage to successfully complete all these steps on a piece! ;)

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Phil,

 

When I try to transcribe something with complex phrasing, I need something to match it against the beat. For example, I'm analyzing Brad Mehldau's phrasing right now. He likes playing on the offbeat and doing a lot of rhythmic skips. So I'm finding that I need to bang out the quarter note pulse on my left hand, and then fit the pattern on the right hand or I'll never figure out where he's sticking the notes. This is a case where the notes are the easy part. That's what I meant.

 

Maybe you or someone else has a better technique but to me offbeat phrasing can only be figured out by contrast against the pulse. Singing it in this case will not help me fit it in rhythmically.

 

I used was taught a lot of singing as well but more applicable to getting the swing feel. Ask this question for me at your next master class!

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Ask this question for me at your next master class!

Well you take from each what you can, I guess. Sometimes I don't absorb something from this kind of context until months later, then suddenly something sinks in months later.

Hey, if any of you ever gets the chance to hear Dave Liebman speak, snap it up. It's worthwhile for the humour alone!

 

Apparently, Mr Liebman has a video on the subject!

 

Review of the clinic in question

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