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How important is transcription?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mingusitis, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. mingusitis


    May 11, 2012
    I have had people tell me to do so but I don't. I study theory, work on site reading bass lines, play over fake books, play tabbed out lines but I still feel like I lack that killer groove that some of my favorite bass players hold. Will transcribing tunes help get me that groove? Is transcription important? How does one go about this?
  2. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Two very short questions that could spawn a book of many hundreds of pages. Let me just throw down some stream-of-conciousness thoughts:

    1. Certainly transcribing has its importance, but in your case (considering what you have indicated in terms of where you want to be), I think a better question is:

    "Is transcription necessary/critical" to composing lines with a certain groove that I want to achieve?"

    My answer to that is, generally, no, but transcribing will help you to recognize certain grooves (provided that you have transcribed them in a way that connects the musical notation to what your ear/brain understands as a certain groove) in the future. Put another way, use your ears to hear a certain groove, and then notate it properly (or read it from a book as properly notated). In the future, when you see that same rhythmical pattern, your brain will assimilate it to the groove you've heard in your head while you were reading the groove as propely notated.

    2. For me, I tend to hear a bass part and either learn it from a recording, or use it as the basis for my own line. In general, there's no need for me to transcribe it. I do, however, write out many of my bass part ideas so I will remember them (I also record them, but writing out is so much better the exercise).

    3. Maybe it's a bit late for this disclaimer, but for the purposes of my response, the word "transcribe" means to write out in proper western musical notation, a part that any competent reading musician can then read and play. You'd be surprised at how many folks here on TB think it means something else.

    4. My advice to you would be to try to find some of the grooves you are interested in and read them written out properly. Good luck with that. You may need to find some higher-end publications depending on what music you are talking about. My experience with many guitar store books is that they present a piano rendition that comes close, and has guitar chords, but doesn't really nail things.
  3. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    its ear training witch is a basic skill set that all musicians need. the better it is, the better you will be all around.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    All of it is important and it all feeds the other. Transcribing helps you understand how great lines are created, it helps your reading, and you also train your ears while you do it. You still have to play, but I learned a heck of a lot about how music works through transcribing.
  5. Each forum has a favorite subject, transcribing is often mentioned on this forum. Will transcribing help? Yes, anything we learn helps our general knowledge. I think the real question is do I need to learn how.

    The answer in my case is perhaps, sooner or later, it would help, however, it is not big on my bucket list.

    I find myself in the same position as you. I study theory, work on site reading, play from fake books, use tab to work out specific "things" and then gig the same old songs over and over. I get by fairly well with what I do now. I really do not get turned on by playing by rote what the original artist did, I rely upon theory and compose my own bass lines. If I transcribed what others have written world it help my bass lines, sure...........

    IMO it's a matter of priorities, when I run out of the other things I should be spending my time on transcribing will enter my life. It's a journey, I'm not at transcribing yet.
  6. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Transcribing bass lines and solos is stupid important, if what you want to do is expand your vocabulary and technique.

    However from your OP, you're saying you lack "groove." Transcription won't necessarily help this, unless you're doing a focused study on the bassist's time feel and his phrasing.

    I'd say go and watch anything on Youtube that has Victor Wooten talking about time feel and groove. Because everything he says is right, and it's better than reading a bunch of text. Then go do some serious metronome studies to internalize.
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Maybe this will help:

  8. miltslackford


    Oct 14, 2009
    Check out this guys books and videos.

  9. HuntYouDown


    Jan 3, 2012
    Tampa, FL
    If it's something as complex as JohnPaul Jones, then I'll use tab. Otherwise, likeSting, Cliff Burton, La,b Of God, etc.. I'll use ear training per se. I'll listen to the recordinguntil I know the song, then I can nail it. Also, theory practice helpsa lot, because I get used to where notes are, and certain tones, also dexterity,touch and feel.
  10. Melodious_Thump


    Jun 26, 2011
    It depends on how you learn and what your goals are. I've discovered that I'm very much a visual learner and "seeing" the notes helps me remember intricate basslines much faster AND it gives me insight to why certain basslines sound good (hint: thou shalt utilize an ample amount of chord tones, baby!) and others not so good. If you're a little weak on reading music (especially rhythms), transcribing basslines into standard notation will definitely improve your reading skills rather quickly if you're diligent about it. I've been playing bass for two years and feel that transcribing and, of course, practicing nearly every day have helped me become more competent than I otherwise would be. I wouldn't say transcribing is the the key to anything, but man it sure helps.

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