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Lost interest in transcription. Any tips for getting back in?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by TheIndieKid, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. I used to transcribe a lot, being really precise about it. I'd slow the track down, raise the pitch an octave or two and even watch live videos for the correct note positions. However, I suddenly lost interest a while ago. I think I can attribute it to losing interest in playing other people's songs and wanting to write and play my own instead. Do you have any tips for getting back into transcribing with a new found sense of willing?
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  2. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    That’s a natural next step/stage for any growing, advancing musician creating, establishing yourself in Music.
    Express yourself.
  3. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    So kill two birds with one stone: Write your own songs...but transcribe them. See how accurately you can notate them just from the idea in your head, or how perfectly you can execute them on your instrument directly from your "inner ear". That way you continue to maintain your aural transcription skills, but you get to create new music at the same time.
  4. staccatogrowl

    staccatogrowl Savoring the spinning, shimmery aquasphere Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2006
    You lost interest. What has changed? Without interest for the activity, it's just another menial chore.

    A sense of "willing" is self defined. If it's not in you, no other will establish it for you.

    "A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still."

    Now, go eat your vegetables, brush your teeth before bedtime, and make your bed when you awake : )
  5. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012

    The Entrepreneurial Operating System asks
    - Does a person “get” it?
    - Does a person want it?
    - Does a person have the capacity to achieve it?

    Without any of those — but especially #2 — the person will eventually fail. If you don’t want to transcribe, you won’t succeed.

    Or, as my friend James used to say: “There’s no Do without Wanna.”
    TheIndieKid and dramatwist like this.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    curious: are you talking about writing the 'transcriptions' down on manuscript? learning tunes note-for-note? thanks.
    TheIndieKid likes this.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Transcribing is a tool that can be helpful, no matter what kind of music you play. Learning what other people have played can give you inspiration to create your own music. It also can help your own playing, by giving you new hurdles to leap. It's not just for cover bands.

    Before the real books came out, that's what jazz musicians did to learn songs - I think it's safe to safe the creativity of people like Paul Chambers, Charles Mingus and Ron Carter was not harmed by practicing this skill.

    Just a few thoughts.
    MattZilla and TheIndieKid like this.
  8. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    transcribe your own bass ideas, then.
    writing is 50% of literacy, it's a great exercise.
    bassinplace and TheIndieKid like this.
  9. I can't read music properly yet. I can look at the staff and remember certain note locations from when I attempted to learn. But when I did transcribe, I just played it note for note, without writing down. This was only if the changes were repetitive. If it was a song like the Cream version of Crossroads, I would improvise a lot.
    JRA likes this.
  10. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    There's a lot of ditch digging involved with transcription. But it can be very rewarding. But like anything, it can become tiresome at a point, due to it's labor intensive nature. Maybe it's time to take a break from it, explore other avenues of study and see if you can return to it later with a renewed and refreshed sense of purpose. There are always plenty of other topics to study.
    bfields and TheIndieKid like this.
  11. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    OK, it's good that you're learning bass parts note for note. It's part of the learning experience and it gives you insight into other players note choices, phrases, rhythmic patterns etc.

    It's always good to start writing these things down on manuscript if your goal is to read/write better. For me this has never been a continuous cycle, when I get tired of it I take a break for several weeks.

    Where I found that it helped me a lot is in reading. When I get thrown some bass charts I can navigate them with relative ease if I've been doing a bit of reading/transcribing at home. I've slowed down a little now but up until about 5 years ago I was a hired gun for a lot of shows because I could read well.

    Now I write out any new songs we're doing, sometimes complete bass lines, sometimes chord charts with some figures written in and I find it helps to speed up the process of getting the song down but not necessarily having to memorise it. If we pull out a song we haven't done for a year I can refer to the chart which is going to be better than my memory at my age.:)
    TheIndieKid likes this.
  12. manbass


    May 20, 2004
    Tampa Bay
    He's not talking about transcription, which is translating the audio notes heard to written notation on the staff. He's using the word "transcribing" as learning to play by ear. Thats memorization, not transcribing. (Not that theres anything wrong with that!)

    Memorization can lose its luster for some due to the limits it places on our playing and once you've had some success at playing these memorized lines, not knowing where to go next. It could also be you've run out of music in whatever style that you've been working on.

    Once I realized learning really good basslines (yeah the ones I've been sick of hearing all my life) was actually providing me with a useable Bass Vocabulary, I could move onto to use in other songs, backing tracks, jam with friends, band performance, etc. Relating great basslines by Rainey or Geddy or Jaco to their Chord tone context, time and syncopation and dynamics variation is key. I got sick of memorizing them early on and took lessons where I was taught while I thought I was bored because it was too simple, I wasnt understanding WHY they sounded great. So I was taught to get even simpler about it. Find the 4 beat - single measure bassline that you think is the hook, the really good stuff, and break it down like this to find out why:
    • What is the Chord of that measure?
    • What are the bassnotes and are they actual chordtones, chromatic leading tones, Scaletones, etc?
    • Where are the notes placed compared to the kick drum, what does that create? (IE Groove, drive, swing, etc.)
    • How long is each note?
    • Where is it placed in the 4 beat and subdivisions?
    Its somewhat formulaic, however with Jazz the great Bass line formulas are endless. Once I found the WHY it sounded great, I learned to incorporate that where it would work in other music or other keys. then the journey begins again, and again.....
    Malcolm35 likes this.
  13. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018

    YES! Follow the chords and lock with the kick drum. Is there more? Sure, but that is first. My point, my music is sung and people - want to dance to it or sing along with it, kinda helps if I do not get in the way of the vocalist and the best way I know to do that is to groove with the rest of the band and leave the solo "people" alone.

    Course that is what I've been saying for a long time. We all play many styles of music, so it takes many different ways of going about this thing we love.

    Back to the OP's original question about transposing, gotta say, if you go about it the way I do - exact as the original artist did it is not all that important, IMO.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019

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