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Discussion Starter #1
I'm just wondering about this, I don't think I have perfect pitch.
But I want to be able to transcribe recordings without consulting a piano or sax, or any electronics.
At the most, using just my voice and ears to transcribe.
For example, I just want to listen to my ipod and be able to transcribe there, like on a long bus ride.
Is this even possible?
 

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It's possible. Try to transcribe the intervals, and then check the key against a reference later. Start with the rhythms, and sketch in the intervals.

If it's a sax solo, try to ascertain the note by the timbre of the sound.

To start, do something simple.
 

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Well, if you don't have perfect pitch, then how are you going to know the starting note? Or any of the notes? I know a LOT of people who sing say an "A" and it's not an "A" but a "C" or something else.

If you have an iPod/iPhone, why not get one of the many piano apps and use that to at least know what pitches you are dealing with.
 

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Hakukani is right on. Getting the intervals and checking a reference pitch later is likely to be the most successful way for you to transcribe without perfect pitch, though you'll still have to have excellent relative pitch so not anybody can do it. The more time you spend transcribing you'll find it gets easier. I have nowhere near perfect pitch but have developed relative pitch over the years well enough that once I know where I am it isn't necessary to consult a horn for every pitch.
 

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Solfege or a similar system can be your best friend. :bluewink:
 

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Solfege or a similar system can be your best friend. :bluewink:
+1

Solfege was probably THE most helpful thing I learned in several semesters of ear training at Berklee. Being able to hear and identify intervals as Solfege syllables completely eliminated the need to use a keyboard or other instrument for reference when transcribing or composing. Thirty years later...I still find myself using Solfege rather frequently.
 

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I teach AP Music Theory and I also agree that solfege is a really useful tool when transcribing. Something else that I recommend from teaching my students to transcribe is get the rhythm before trying to put pitches to your transcription. Also, I find writing out the chord changes over blank measures of staff paper and then transcribing under it helps me make informed decisions about what I'm hearing. That might be all you'd need to have to be able get the pitches without an instrument.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm not really clear about solfege.
Solfege, a software?
Or a method of syllables (or something like that)
 

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I'm not really clear about solfege.
Solfege, a software?
Or a method of syllables (or something like that)
Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do
Ascending chromatically it would be... Do-Di-Re-Ri-Mi-Fa-Fi-Sol-Si-La-Li-Ti-Do
Descending chromatically it would be... Do-Ti-Te-La-Le-Sol-Se-Fa-Mi-Me-Re-Ra-Do

I should add...when I first started ear training classes at Berklee, I thought having to sing Solfege was about the silliest thing in the world. After a few semesters of it...realizing how much it had done to improve my ears AND my ability to either play back or write down just about anything I heard without having to think too hard about it...I still think it may have been the single most helpful tool I learned at Berklee.
 

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With enough training and practice, you can transcribe or compose without the use of a piano or your horn. But it is a skill that few musicians have developed to a high degree.

The pianist Bill Evans once talked about the different results from composing at the piano and away from the piano. So her certainly could write without the use of the piano. Also Brahms wrote most of his second symphony without the use of a piano. (Talk about an ear!)

I do try this now and then. The more I practice transcribing with a horn in my hands, the better I can transcribe without the horn. You can certainly do many things without even noting the pitch -- rhythms, phrases, etc... You can block out the phrases against the form of the tune and so on. And I find if I listen enough, I can transcribe from memory.

Best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do
Ascending chromatically it would be... Do-Di-Re-Ri-Mi-Fa-Fi-Sol-Si-La-Li-Ti-Do
Descending chromatically it would be... Do-Ti-Te-La-Le-Sol-Se-Fa-Mi-Me-Re-Ra-Do
Oh, okay, thanks for the clarification here.
 

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It's very possible. I know because I sometimes do it with simple melodies. So I know a full-tilt musician should be able to pick out much more complicated rhythms. After much repetition, the eyes read the music and the brain just sings the melody. And from their, it seems to be a natural jump to writing down what your brain sings. You don't need perfect pitch. Just the ability to reverse the site reading process.

That said, for me, I usually only do one phrase at a time by writing it on computer and then listening to it. So I don't right down an entire piece at one time by just hearing it. But again, someone better trained and more practiced than me should be able to gain this ability.
 

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The way I transcribe is the first listening I just listen to the piece, 2nd I get the rhythms, 3rd I go over and correct any rhythms, THEN I work on notes AWAY from my horn. I find it to be much faster. Now I must say that in order to do this I had to get the sound of each note in my head at both the sax and piano. Not to mention I had to get the sounds of the intervals in my head and once I did that my overall playing improved.

So it is definitely possible to do what you are asking, you just need to do a little work before hand. Solfege is most definitely a useful thing to develop and most students don't see the benefits of it until sometime later after they finished their education. Thus they shrug off ear training (I've not only noticed this myself while I'm here in college but also have had many pros tell me this)

One thing I should mention is that once I'm finished with the transcribing, then I'll go over to my horn and usually I'll find a few mistakes here and there. I don't have perfect pitch so naturally there will be but get pretty close.
 
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