Wynton Kelly "Sassy" Transcription Exercise/Tutorial

A transcription-focused lesson has been added to our course on 12 Bar Blues Improvisation.

Here’s the new lesson:

Here’s the recording we are working on:

In the above lesson I explain my approach to transcribing a solo, and the benefit you will gain from this.

@smole - I hope you find this useful and I highly recommend that you engage in a similar style of study when listening to the recordings you admire.

Here’s a few tips that are also highlighted on the lesson page:

  • When transcribing a solo, the first step is to listen to the recording for at least a few days to get a feel for the record.

  • After you have transcribed some of the material, play along with the recording to emulate the phrasing, feel, and other nuances of the performance.

  • Once you feel more comfortable with the transcribed material, the next step is to play along with a backing track such as the iRealPro.

  • Set the repeats to 20+ and cycle around and around the form.

  • Take a single idea that you have transcribed, and try to develop it to its fullest potential.

  • Use the transcribed lines as a ‘spring board’ to explore your own ideas.


Great work … the only minus is it seems so easy hearing you … and so hard doing it :slight_smile:

One question , do you write all the transcription you do , even not acuretly ?

Thanks Pierre!

Believe me the more you try to transcribe, the easier it becomes. I am by no means a master at it, but I’ve improved a lot over the past couple of years just from doing it regularly.

I always dedicate a section of my practice time to transcription, and when I’m away from the piano I’m always listening to records and finding bits of material that I want to learn.

I don’t personally write anything down. I know many musicians do, but time has always been a constraint for me.

Besides, I would have a hard time notating some of what Wynton plays in that section. Notating very rhythmic music has never been a strong point of mine.

The key objective for me has always been to absorb the swing feel and I don’t feel that writing it down is of much benefit here.

For many years when I started out with jazz, I was playing ballads with a straight feel and so swing feel was something I never worked on, or even listened to that much to be honest.

Without a doubt, this kind of exercise has helped immensely.

that was fun and fantastic Hayden;
I have some LISTENING to do…

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Here’s the next 24 bars of the solo:

This part of his solo was tricky for me to transcribe and it has taught me a lot about fast 16th-note phrases.

I hope this helps to inspire others to transcribe and share their results.

Transcription takes time and a lot of patience but the benefit to your playing is definitely worth the effort.

We will soon be launching monthly transcription exercises, as well as musician-specific transcription studies on 7 of the most influential jazz piano players in history.

Stay tuned in the Transcription section of the forum.