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transcribing - the real way to learn?

PetrovPetrov ✭✭
edited September 10 in Gypsy Jazz 101
I've been doing GJ for 4 years now. Within that, I had to stop due to tendinitis in both forearms for about 4 months, shoulder issues due to RSI working in a office etc...It's been a journey and I've learned a lot.

I started out like probably most these days. I looked at youtube, books, online courses, you name it. Always looking for all the tabs I can get. Some said "transcribe!", I said why? Tabs are easy, these people just haven't embraced the internet age. Why do all that hard work?

I actually thought this..Boy was I wrong.

I learned many licks by tabs. It was easy, it sounded great... I quickly realised...well after 3 or so years ;) , that no matter what I did, I couldn't internalise all these licks. The biggest thing was that all my solos sounded the same. The same old licks over and over. It became a mind game of what lick I should insert where. Never really free to just play. Solos sounded disconnected. It became evident that this was not the way to go about it.

I should of listened and transcribed like they were saying.

I started transcribing in Spring. Learning GJ phrases completely by ear, then learning it on the guitar. It was painful at the start, but the more I do, the faster and more efficient I become.

It has done wonders for my ear, technique but the biggest thing, my improvisation. I can now understand why people talk about licks/phrases more as if they are part of a language. Most importantly, I've learned to internalise in my own way, patterns, ideas and phrases. Playing these phrase in all keys as well.

I wish I would have started a long time ago. I'm not saying youtube, books, tabs etc shouldn't be used at all. I'm sure there are many good reasons, but if you haven't tried transcribing give it a shot!

What do you guys think?



Jim Kaznosky
«1

Comments

  • Your post reflects totally my experience.

    In my case, I had learned some theoretical concepts (the key notes, where to put them to swing, substitutions etc.) but I never really understood how to apply this to playing. Tabs are such an easy tool that you can just focus on reproducing without understanding. When you transcribe, your brain is more aware and has time to think about what you are playing. When you transcribe, you use your ears but also your brain to recognize patterns, identify the reasons behind this lick etc.

    Transcribing is def a great exercise that I should have started to do earlier.
    Petrov
  • edited September 11
    This has been my experience as well, even with learning repertoire. I'm finding that tunes are embedded if I learn by ear, even if it is taking me a long time to learn the tune. I know I've done a decent job learning the tune if I'm kind of sick of it and it is in my head constantly.

    When learning language, I'm still struggling with making certain things stick, but I find that I am making (somewhat) better decisions when I play. What I mean is that rather than me thinking "well I just played something in G now I need to play something over E7," I am starting to just play the song without worrying about playing vertically all of the time. The other thing is that I'm learning things that grab my ear as opposed to anything that comes across my plate. I'm trying to reduce the amount of things I'm working on and I'm spending time to really learn something before I move on.

    Finally, I find that I am hearing what is happening around me more in my band situation. This adds to my enjoyment because I can hear what they are doing and try to make some decisions as to what may help them or where they want to go when they are soloing.

    I do think it is something I wish I had done earlier as well. And when I started doing it more, I wish I knew what to do with this stuff I had spent so much time learning.
    Petrov
  • ...

    When learning language, I'm still struggling with making certain things stick, but I find that I am making (somewhat) better decisions when I play.

    Yeah I struggle on that as well

    I find drilling the line over and over in all keys is a big part of retaining phrases for me. Also practicing the line in the context of a song but not improvising. Playing it as is on the progression.

    After that I start modifying the line with different notes feel timing etc..

    Only then do these lines come in my improvisation.
  • I've heard a lot of advice about practicing over the years, and some of it works for most people and most of it is worth considering:

    Transcribe solos.

    Play the tune in all twelve keys.

    Play the melody.

    One thing these have in common is that they require repeated and close listening, followed by some activity that requires precision. Which goes back to the ancient formula: imitation and repetition.
  • I do all of those things.
    Petrov wrote: »
    ...

    When learning language, I'm still struggling with making certain things stick, but I find that I am making (somewhat) better decisions when I play.

    Yeah I struggle on that as well

    I find drilling the line over and over in all keys is a big part of retaining phrases for me. Also practicing the line in the context of a song but not improvising. Playing it as is on the progression.

    After that I start modifying the line with different notes feel timing etc..

    Only then do these lines come in my improvisation.

    Yes. I do exercises like this quite often. I'd like to get to a point where I am not thinking of a line that fits a situation, but where they are coming out naturally. That's tough.

  • I am not sure if we are all using transcribing in the same way. My understanding of the meaning is to learn a piece of music (solo or whatever) and then reduce it to paper....usually notes but tabs is the same deal really.

    For me the important part is to learn the piece so one can sing;hum/whistle along with it and then on my own. I take the phrases I like and work them out on guitar. until I have them internalised. I have only actually transcribed a few complete solos and worked them out on guitar so I can repeat them note for note.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • PetrovPetrov ✭✭
    edited September 11
    Jazzaferri wrote: »
    I am not sure if we are all using transcribing in the same way. My understanding of the meaning is to learn a piece of music (solo or whatever) and then reduce it to paper....usually notes but tabs is the same deal really.

    By transcribing, I'm talking about learning a line by ear and then figuring out on your instrument. Wether you memorize or write it down to help remember, it's up to you.

    The key point is learning by ear and not just grabbing note by note and writing it down. That would defeat the point of transcribing imho. You need to hear the line or part of the line as a whole.

    If transcribing is not the right word for this then I don't know the correct word.
  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca Modèle Chorus, Di Mauro Modèle Django, Sonora (by Busato?), Favino Model 5A, Gitane DG-250M, Bucolo, Hoyer & Framus Archtops, and a few electrics.
    edited September 11
    FYI - The prefix trans means to change or move and scribe means to write, so clearly transcribe means to change or translate something and write it down.
    The Oxford English dictionary defines transcribe (relating to music) thus; ...."to rewrite (a piece of music) for an instrument or medium other than that originally intended; arrange."
    I think this is what most on here understand it to mean, but I would suggest what Petrov is referring to might be better described as "learning by ear" if his end result is to be able to play something copied note for note without any intention of writing it down.
    He says above "The key point is learning by ear and not just grabbing note by note and writing it down. That would defeat the point of transcribing imho."
    On the contrary, that is the whole point of 'transcribing'; it literally means to write it down, how you get there is not important in the true sense of the word, it could in fact be done one note at a time.
    Agreed that is not much good for learning to play, but it meets the definition of the word.
  • @"Chris Martin" I mean...yeah the word literally means writing music, but the process of transcribing to learn music is where the context of my original post is coming from. How we can use this tool to learn.

    There is so much more to it then just writing down notes even if that is the true meaning of the word, but I get what you are saying. Maybe I should refer it to learning by ear, but anyways I think we are all on the same page.

    My original post, considering it's in the GJ 101 forum, is if you haven't tried to transcribe/learn by ear, then give it a try. Forget tabs and if you are serious, you have to do the hard work if you want to reach your goals. There are no shortcuts.



  • I've read this article a while back and this discussion about what the word is made me think of it again.

    This is exactly what I'm talking about.

    Check it out if you are interested
    https://jazzadvice.com/transcribing-is-not-transcibing-how-this-misnomer-has-led-you-astray/
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