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What is the importance of transcription?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ryco, Aug 26, 2007.

  1. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Transcription seems to be a method mentioned a lot when it comes to questions about learning to hear and learning songs.

    I've done a lot of music analysis when studying songs and have found that very useful in hearing and writing. But I have never actually sat down and transcribed a bass line. What do you feel is the importance of this exercise?

    Enlighten me. If I understood its usefulness, I would be more motivated to trying it.
  2. Transcribing works several skills at once.

    Writing,Reading,Ear Training,Vocabulary, Lesson in theory (How harmony works and player's noe choice etc)
  3. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    +1 also if there is a player you like you can analyze their style and starting understanding their approach. After you have transcribed a few players it blends together to become you own style. As Herbie Hancock said you copy everyone you can then forget it all and play.
  4. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Not transcribing is like learning English from a book.

    Music is a language. Learn it the way we learn language naturally. Listen. Repeat.

    In music, one of the best ways to do this is transcribing. I know of no other method that yields superior results.
  5. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    NYC vicinity
    I'll add to the other excellent replies that when you transcribe something it also reinforces your memory of what you're working on. I find that I learn my parts faster and memorize them more quickly and thoroughly. Nice fringe benefit.
  6. If I understand my music theory terminology, transcribing is a great tool to have if you have a singer who needs to sing in a different key to the original recording.

    It teaches you to learn the same song in different places on the fretboard, often using different fingerings.

    Hope this helps, and more importantly for my own ego, is correct, I'm a theory noob mahself! :D
  7. stealth51


    Jan 26, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    Back in the day when DJs were only heard on the radio and musicians were constantly gigging, transcribing was the only way to remember a large number of songs in a short span of time. I can remember transcribing brass and reed parts just to save time time in rehearsals. I learned a lot about chord structures doing this. Slowing down that 45 (I'm dating myself here :) ) to 33 1/3 to catch those licks. At that time I didn't realize the valuable music lesson I was getting. I think transcribing is great learning tool. :bassist:
  8. Audiophage


    Jan 9, 2005
    You're talking about transposing there.
  9. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Also when fake books started showing up. I remember in high school a friend showed us his dad fake book from the 40's. Playing along with radio or TV is good ear training.

    I remember destroying many records transcribing them and how great it was when the Sony Superscope cassette recorders came out with the speed control. They not only would change speed up or down by about 30%, but they were great for recording practice and sneaking into clubs. :D
  10. kipsus

    kipsus Physicist

    Sep 18, 2005
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    I have a question. Which part of transcribing brings most benefits? Listening, identifying and repeating, or writing it down? I mean, if I do all those things but instead of writing notes on paper I just play them on a midi keyboard or something, am I really missing anything? (except practicing standard notation)
  11. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Writing it down yourself helps with sightreading. When you have to figure out the rhythms then notate it you will remember what that written notation sounds and looks like. When you come across that same figure sightreading you will instantly know it. That is what learning to sight read is all about learning to recognize notation the way you read the whole words in this message.
  12. LeonLivingston


    Aug 28, 2007
    Transcribing often is a great help in ear training and if you choose to write it down it can help with sight reading and increase how comfortable you are with comparing how something sounds and how it looks on paper. The better you get at transcribing the faster you can do it. If you practice regularly you can figure out those tricky parts in no time at all. This helps allot when you are gigging and find yourself playing a song you haven't heard before. If you are good at transposing you can listen to it once and get the jist of the bass line pretty easy.
  13. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    so how many of us regularly transcribe then? and how many of us just say it's a good thing to do (like eating your greens)?
  14. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    Not regularly. If I am learning a simple 3-minute pop song, I'm not going to bother. If it is something challenging I transcribe so if I stop practicing a song and come back to it, I don't have to relearn it.
  15. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Not as much as I'd like, but do some daily even if just a couple lines or cool motifs I hear. I also try to sing solos to CD's and if I like something I sing I transcribe it. I should be doing more complete things, but sadly don't.

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