Choosing A Recording For Transcription

Hi Greg. I’m still tinkering around on this weeks project given I’ve never been one to improvise as I find it quite challenging. Never transcribed anything at this stage.

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Hi Paul :wave:

We are all there at some point, here is what I would recommend:

Create a list of recordings of “There Will Never Be Another You” and first of all just listen to them thoroughly. This is an ongoing process that can take days, weeks, or even years. But deep listening is the first stage.

Next make note of the parts you like and that you would like to play.

It could be anything but a very accessible area to start would be slight modifications to the melody in the head of the tunes, perhaps notes are added in, or taken away, or the melody rephrased. I’d recommend starting there. Listen and emulate.

I also find it very helpful to focus on the ways that recordings transition from the head into the solo, and analysing those lines and phrases helped me a lot to springboard into my own creative ideas.

Transcription is very hard to start with, and for many years I was intimidated by it. The first thing you transcribe will be the hardest, and then it becomes easier and easier from there.

You could also start with Tuomo’s ear training exercises and then the transcription studies, @tuomo has listed them by difficulty here:

Finally here is a nice video we shot with Jon Cleary where he is outlining the importance of transcription.

I asked him “What one tip would you give a student looking to learn this style of music” and this was his response…

I really like his advice…

“Identify something just within your grasp, imitate it, and then gradually expand your field of curiosity”

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Thanks for sharing the clip from Cleary. Great advice–especially the idea of patience. His point about learning–the more you learn, the more you discover there’s so much more to learn. It’s true in whatever discipline or endeavor.

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Thanks Hayden will definitely revisit many of your suggestions in this thread. I agree with Scott as well about having “patience” as I think I also put too much pressure on myself to pick up things quickly and then get disheartened when things get tough…being a perfectionist also doesn’t help (haha).

I found this tune that maybe easier for me to start with

Do you suggest also downloading this into Amazing Slow Downer (ASD) as well…I haven’t used Transcribe but your thoughts…better to listen or leverage on other tools as well?

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Hi @paul, I have moved this conversation into a new thread to keep the topic focused

Whilst there is no right or wrong approach in choosing a recording to transcribe from, here some pointers which I found to be useful:

  1. Pick a medium-up tempo tune and this way it’s easier to lock into the groove and play along with the record to emulate the recording. It is more difficult to do this with ballads, slow tempo recordings, and more rhythmically free records.

  2. As pianists, a good place to start is transcribing from piano solos. For sure we can get amazing ideas and inspiration from all instruments but when starting out with transcription I feel that choosing a piano solo is a wise move. See all of the transcription studies here for inspriation.

  3. If improvising jazz piano is the goal, it’s a good idea to focus our transcription energy on bebop language which is the foundation/roots of most modern jazz styles. Bebop lines are very logical… incorporating chord tones, strong voice leading, and are therefore very versatile pieces of musical vocabulary that can be used in a wide variety of situations.

  4. Aim to build up a ‘library’ of lines, phrases, patterns, licks, that work over 251 progressions. The 251 is the most common progression in jazz music and so learning different phrases to navigate over this progression will help you become more comfortable with improvising over virtually all standards and tunes in the jazz repertoire.

Perhaps it would be good to start with the following transcription exercises where you can find the transcription PDF partly completed, and the task is to fill in the gaps and then check your note choices against the answers.

That way it’s a half way step to taking on a full transcription task yourself and you also have a means to validate your efforts with the results provided and find out what you did right/wrong etc…

Here’s the ones that I would suggest:

I feel you would have a much easier and more enjoyable time with the transcription studies above, and the material you are transcribing would also give you more benefit in the long run.

A final point, when I find a record I like, I will immediately check the key it is being played in by playing along with the melody. This is important as tunes are commonly played in different keys to the original key.

For example the the Paul Western recording of “There Will Never Be Another You” posted above is played in the key of D Major, and the original key for the tune is Eb Major. Transposition adds an additional element of complexity to any transcription task.

The transcription exercises are here in the forum to provide a ‘semi guided’ introduction into the art of transcription and then once the basic developed have been built we can then explore other repertoire. It’s always difficult to gauge the exact level of a student in terms of listening/transcription skills, but the above studies would be my recommendation.

I hope that helps Paul, remember patience and perseverance are both very important with transcription work, and the more we train our ears to do these tasks, the better they become at it.

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Couldn’t agree more with that Scott. It really rings true in all walks of life.

Glad you enjoyed the video!

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Apologies I missed this question.

Yes ASD and Transcribe are both useful tools for looping and slowing down a performance.

ASD works better for me on my iPhone, and if I’m working from a laptop I use Transcribe.

They have almost identical functionality and so both are a solid choice.

These pieces of software are aids, but as a beginner transcriber I found them to be invaluable and I still use them with most transcription work I do.

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Hi Hayden

I really appreciate the feedback and helpful points you and others are sharing. The points in this thread are invaluable to take on board knowing I’m not alone in this journey.

I will definitely look at picking one of the pieces from the beginner transcriptions and look to apply the learnings in the improvisation class with Tuomo as well.

Thanks for the added point about using ASD and Transcribe (haven’t used Transcribe yet).

How would you recommend structuring my Practice time to learn new songs, not forgetting songs I’ve learnt and incorporating theory and transcribing over a 2 hour practice session?

I’ll keep you updated on progress :blush:

Thanks again.

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Glad to have checked this thread :blush:

lol most of the time, when I’m doing chores, all am thinking about is music and playing or watching jazz piano lessons from PG :grin:

These are gold, thank you ! am learning so much! just by reading through the conversations… :purple_heart:

Hi Paul :wave:t2:

I think it would be nice to ‘deep dive’ into a tune of your choice, perhaps one that you are already comfortable with, one that you can play without looking at the lead sheet, and also one with lots of 251s so that any transcribed material will be useful for other tunes too.

Perhaps spend a whole month on just that tune and see where that takes you. I think the temptation can be there to bounce around from tune to tune, arrangement to arrangement, tutorial to tutorial, and sometimes it can be nice to laser focus your practice on a single tune.

Everyday listen to lots of different versions until you have the ‘master list’ of the ones you like best. Then listen to those recordings over and over, and start transcribing the parts that interest you.

Using iRealPro can be handy to circle around and around the form, trying to find creative ways to voice the chords an add fills and embellishments. The goal is to force yourself out of the ‘comfort zone’ of the arrangement you have learnt, and try to play more spontaneously and in the moment.

Perhaps set a goal of “I’m going to cycle around the form 20 times, and each time I will add something different” and see where that process of experimentation of exploration takes you.


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