What do you think you learn most from transcribing?
Hi, first of all, thanks to all of you for giving access to your experience and wisdom! To my question - I have done transcribing, mainly to get a line down from a song I want to learn so I can practice it until it is memorized. I don't do it much, as I can generally figure things out by ear, or I am reading from a sheet. I have seen transcribing recommended in many places. It is a bit of work to do. I am wondering what each of you feel you gain from transcribing.
J, I get many things from transcribing:
Mainly what i get from a line or a solo is being able to analyze it in an harmonic & rhythmic context.
And to me the transcription comes always after i am able to play along with the whole recording. Meaning I had to go over the song several times and at that point i know many things about the tune [tempo, key, chord progression and solo].
What i get harmonically is to see which notes are played over which chord.
Are they part of a scale? a chord? Do they imply some kind of reharmonization? Do they start/land on chord tones or tensions? ...
I can then traspose these phrases/concepts in a different key and use them in different songs and contact.
Also rhythmically what is going one, are there rests on 1? notes played on 4? is there a rhythmic structure going on?
Think about Cuban bass lines, 4 is king, 1 is not so important. Brazilian lines, the 2 needs to be played differently to give the proper line motion.
The accents on 2 & 4 for swing lines and so on.
You can do all these things just using the ear, but writing down the notes helps me analyze better what is going on and then being able to apply to my music.
Thank you for your reply. I can see for learning more about writing music how analyzing a piece may help in understanding ways to create. I'm not trolling here at all. I am surprised that more Berklee instructors don't have more to say on the benefits of transcribing. When I write, I hear a bass part in my head, work it out on the bass, and write it down if needed. In reading many musician's biographies, it is often said that parts are created in the moment, while jamming, or hearing it in one's head. Rarely do I hear that someone worked a part out by analyzing what the song needed through transcription and theory.
I supposed if you want to understand why certain parts go together the way they do from a theory or mathematical standpoint, then transcription may be helpful. I still do not see the benefits of the effort except to lay out what I have come up with already in my head, or to be able to read on paper what someone else has created, so that I may recreate it in the moment.
Please enlighten me if there is something I am missing.
It seem analogous to writing fiction. Many writers have stated that they wrote down what came to them. While later students study the literary devices and symbolism that was used in the story, the author was never thinking of these things when they wrote it.
Currently reading a biography of the Beatles, it is pretty clear that they were messing around with what sounded good to them, not with using theory or creating songs by analyzing what should go together.
It seems to come down to what you hear "in your head" or what comes out when you sit down and just jam to what you are hearing from other players.
Just because you play what you hear in your head deosn't mean that it's not based on musical analysis or theory. Knowing music theory and being able to analyze music helps you to understand what you are hearing and why you are hearing it the way that you are.
The key is to do your analysis and study during your practice time so that you can just play during your performance time. But, believe that what you studied will eventually show up in your performance (even if you think you are making it up on the fly). Even great improvisors have to have something knowledge to draw from.
great to see folks talkin' about transcribing..it's allows you to magnify your listening experience..had a trumpet teacher years ago show me how to connect the notes in respect to the chord of the moment..in essence this is the definition of "tonality". when you take a bassline and recognize how a tonality is working in terms of the chord or chord sequence of the moment, you begin to decipher the magical aspect of music, specifically how basslines work...certainly does influence your palette too..transcribe often! it's fun to transcribe with a buddy.. together you can decipher the "music" .. the notes alone are good, the notes (tonalities) with chords above is best..now to rhythm- transcribe groove ideas..what's the rhythm goin on? how does the rhythmic language of the bass coincide with the drums, with the rhythm piano and/or guitar... now you got a complete transcription...the more you do this, the more familiar you get with the transcribing patterns, and now you start to recognize patterns inherent in various music styles...and "master players" are real hip to this...
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