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Forum Contributor 2010-2017
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I have started trying to transcribe Cannonball Adderleys solo from 'Autumn Leaves' in the Somethin' Else album but have hit upon a problem.

Even the very start is difficult to hear what he is playing. I have slowed it down to 50% in Logic but am still really struggling. Does anyone have any advice? It'll take me 10 years at this rate!

Thanks
James
 

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Only general stuff really.
Once you've slowed it down try using the Eq to isolate the instrument you want to hear. You'll find that the sound becomes a little mushy at half speed so try 70-80% as well to let your ears aclimatise to the different sonic effect.

Knowing the kind of scales that a player likes to use over particular passages/chords will help you to zone in on the correct notes.

Sit back and relax while you listen to the piece slowed down a little so that it becomes more ingrained in your subconscious and you can hum it to yourself.

I put the notes I hear into a score editor (Noteworthy Composer) and once the timings are in as I think they should be will play back the 2 versions back to back to compare. You can still do this at 50% speed by setting the bpm right.

Hope some of this helps. Look forward to seeing what you manage to get down.
 

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I'm not a master transcriber, but I am learning. What has helped me is #1 being able to sing the solo all the way through before I begin transcribing. Also, I got much better at transcribing when I got my chord/scale chops down solid (purists may disagree with this approach but it "paved the way" for me). I shed Cannonball/Parker licks around the cycle and now I hear them without laborious note by note transcription. Also, I started with Cannonball, but that was too hard. I went to some Johnny Hodges, Gigi Gryce, and Frank Morgan and they were a better "start" for me. Now Cannonball and Herring come a little easier to my ears.
 

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As Vivace1 says, singing the line is important. If you can sing it, you can play it. My two cents is to get a book by David Baker called "How to Play Bebop" What I have found with the Baker book is that you will know what is happening while you listen to it. It will save you a lot of time in the long run and make you a better player in the process. I don't find the notes to be the hard thing to pull out, but the rhythms. Cannonball can stick a lot of notes in one beat. Lemur is right, knowing the theory helps and playing it back via midi in some sort of program to compare is a great plus. The Baker book is the best $12 you will ever spend on a book. It will help you HEAR what cats are doing and help you develop your own style as well. Cannonball can be hard to pull out, I have listened to lines numerous times trying to figure them out. Keep at it.
 

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if your having problems with a particular phrase... move onto the next one... by the time you finish transcribing the rest of the solo, your ears will have improved, so you can go back to the 'problem areas'...

the only problem with plotting out the '3 pages required for the solo'... is sometimes it's difficult to put all the notes in that bar and it look legible. it would be quite acceptable to do each phrase on a new line of manuscript, just using dots if your not sure of the rhythms. or just use dots... and a 'vertical line' to indicate next phrase...

A-B repeat function on a cd player is important... lol - or "now days"... you can use the loop function in a program like garageband if your a mac person. it just lets you isolate that phrase (looking at the sound wave), and play it several times... there is nothing more frustrating than using the pause button on a cd player... pressing the wrong button and having to fast forward to the correct spot. it helps to have the starting time of the solo at the top of the page if your doing it that way. be patient...
 

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James, have you transcribed much in the past? I ask this because, if you're pretty new to it, trying to do that solo will be like trying to run before you can walk. If this is one of your first solos to transcribe, try learning Miles' solo first! And probably many other "simpler" solos, too (I use quotes because Miles' solos are incredibly deep, even if he doesn't play as many burning 8th note lines as Cannonball).

If you've already done this, then disregard! Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I haven't transcribed a solo before although I have worked out tunes by ear, although in a totally different way. Not the focus on getting exactly the same sound etc.
 

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Download an evaluation copy of Transcribe! from seventhstring.com. Import the song and set the transposition to the proper setting (alto, tenor, etc). Then slow it down to about 50%. Select a very small section of the sound wave of the segment and it will show you the primary frequencies above a keyboard layout. It will help you to identify the notes that are being played. I often have to slow things down to 25% to hear some parts, but Transcribe! does a good job of keeping the sound pretty clear at slow speeds. Good luck.
 

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Cannonball can be a tough nut to crack. If you haven't transcribed a solo before, I suggest starting with someone like Desmond, the professed king of slow. Skills get better the more you do it. Starting with Cannonball can make one frustrated easily. If you can sing it, you can play it.
 

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Cannonball can be a tough nut to crack. If you haven't transcribed a solo before, I suggest starting with someone like Desmond, the professed king of slow. Skills get better the more you do it. Starting with Cannonball can make one frustrated easily. If you can sing it, you can play it.
This is key advice, especially that last sentence. Transcribing is, for me, more about developing my ears/brain than training my fingers. If you're going through all the finger motions, but don't have the sounds in your head first, you're not actually getting much out of the experience. That's why starting slow is crucial. Desmond is a perfect alto player for perfect, musical ideas, no excess, that sound great. Lee Konitz has some recordings like that too (but obviously he has some mind-bending burners, as well, so maybe hold off on those).
 

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Great advice from "saxsolos". If you really need the solo right away, and aren't transcribing it just for the practice of learning to transcribe, you can get it from his website (saxsolos.com) for a "song".
 

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Just to recap some of the great advice here:
  • Hear it, sing it, play it.
  • Use your software to slow it and fiddle with the EQ. (Transcribe, from SeventhString, can do this.)
  • If you're in a rush, buy it.
  • If you're not in a rush, don't obsess over one phrase. Transcriptions are never perfect because they're paper.

Finally - sorry if I missed this - but some notes are are difficult or impossible to decipher. This can be because of the artist's intent, because he muffed a note, or due to the recording process. We call these "ghost notes". I annotate them in parentheses, usually with an "x" for a the note head. (Both Finale and Sibelius let you do this)

Good luck.
 
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