Oh Brave New World That Has Such Apps in It!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by matthewbrown, Feb 24, 2014.


  1. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Location:
    Chatham, MA, USA
    When I was in college (majoring in jazz and studio music on electric bass, when that was a REALLY NEW THING), I was assigned to transcribe solos. I did this using the only tool I had for the job, a BSR turntable that had a 16 rpm setting.

    For some reason, I never did develop much of a taste for transcription!

    Now, however, I have downloaded an app (called the Amazing Slow Downer) for my Android tablet, and download tunes from the web to transcribe any little snippet I want to from them. It's a bit of a struggle sometimes, but from a technical standpoint, it's hard to imagine how it could be made much easier. I just finished transcribing and memorizing two choruses of Wynton Kelly soloing on Miles Davis's Freddie the Freeloader. :smug:

    I don't have much of a question on this thread, but I wouldn't mind hearing from folks who have been doing a lot of transcribing of jazz solos that AREN'T on the bass, to benefit from your experiences.:bassist:
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 1999
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    Location:
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    Disclosures:
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You can do the same thing with Audacity, which is a free download for Macs.

    Just reading your post literally, I'd suggest doing it the opposite way, memorize then transcribe. And for the sake of this exercise, you can write it down or not.

    Rather than taking snippets and sort of hunting and pecking to get the notes, which you the write down, and then moving to the next snippet, try this:

    Listen to the WHOLE solo at half speed. Listen to it A LOT. Then start singing along with the solo. Try to get to the point where you're not just singing the notes, but you're singing ALL of the inflections - dynamics, where it's a legato attack, where it's staccato, the slurs, the articulations, ALL of that. So that it sounds like that solo, just coming out of your mouth. Then do that at full speed.
    After you get to the point that you can sing all of that, with all of the same inflections as the original soloist, THEN pick up your instrument or pen and just play or write the notes you're singing.
    This does two things:
    1. you internalise the solo so that it's not just notes, it's the full phrased concept form start to finish
    2. you are actually working on the methodolgy of improvisation. Which is HEARING something and being able to make that internal conception come out into the air using your instrument. You do this with Wynton Kelly, you can do this with stuff you hear in your head, stuff that YOU came up with. And you do it in a way that no amount of regurgitation of licks and phrases copped from other folks solos can...
  3. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Location:
    London, Ontario, Canada
    +1. This is gold. Beautifully put. If it was shorter, I'd put it in my sig...
  4. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Location:
    Chatham, MA, USA
    Yeah, Ed, one of the things I learned not to do since jazz school is to NOT write down the solo until I'm able to play the whole thing. I'm trying to balance learning TUNES by ear with learning SOLOS that way, and getting them by heart. I'm working now on solos from recordings I'm very familiar with -- I probably can sing along fairly accurately with most of the solos from Kind of Blue -- so that the whole process goes more smoothly than before (when I was bent over a turntable, dropping a needle on a slab of vinyl):spit:

    One thing I've learned, both as a teacher and a player, is that we tend to avoid the harder stuff in favor of work that gains quicker results. For me, that was working on technique in favor of transcription. So now that I've got a fair bit of technical ability, I hope to concentrate more on learning solos and tunes by ear, and this has already led to some good results.
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