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I've decided I'd like to approach transcription, and I'm wondering if anyone can sort of walk me through a "solid method" (if there is such a thing) of doing so, as well as recommend works that would be good to begin with. I've done some searching around, and there is a lot of great specific information about how to handle certain issues that might occur in a transcription, but I'm looking for more general advice.

Thanks!
 

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Well, I din't really transcribe whole solos. Because most times, I really only hear one specific thing that I want to take away from it. When I want to put those licks and lines on paper, I learn it by ear first. Then I memorize it. After that, I sit down and tap beats while I sing it and try to visualize how the rhythms will be written, then I write it down. It's not that, my advice for your first time: don't try to do the whole solo the first time, it will take you FOREVER.
 

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I think most teachers would have you memorize the solo first by ear and then actually transcribe it.

I like to do it without a saxophone at first - it's just the way I started. It helps to have a notation program like Sibelius or Finale and another software (Windows Media Player, Audacity) to slow the recording down for clarity. Start simple! I wouldn't approach someone like Brecker the first time out - start with a conventional blues or simple funk tune.
 

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Learning to transcribe

To me this is a difficult art-form. I don't do this much or I choose a rather easy solo. You might need software for slowing down the music without changing the pitch. I use wavelab and apply the time stretching process to it.
For all kinds of different software and some general information you can have a look at the website of www.seventhstring.com.
 

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Start with something simple, without lots of notes. BUT, don't transcribe things you don't want to learn, or else you're defeating the point. I like to learn Miles Davis licks, since they tend not to be too busy and they're always tasty. Getz can also be fun because his lines are so melodic and pretty that they always make lots of sense.
 

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My Method

Hi Ryan,

I hope you're enjoying the Jazzman transcription I did for you. All good ideas above.

I'll start by saying that it really helps if you know the solo in your head before you start trying to write it down. Not necessarily to play it from memory, but just know how it goes and can sing it.

I use two bits of software - Sibelius and Slow Gold (one for notation and the other for playing loops and slowing things down) you can use others. Media Player can slow the music down, but I don't think it can create loops within the track. Others may have advice on this.

Start by breaking the song or solo into smaller sections, if you're doing the whole song map out the form, counting bars (measures), time sigs and changes etc. Even repeated sections if you hear them, that way you won't be writing them out twice or more. You can use letters A A2 B etc or names like verse chorus bridge, whatever works for you. This is where I create loops in slow gold of each section.

Either use your sax, or another instrument (I often use a guitar or sibelius or a keyboard) to get the starting pitches. Pick the key and start slogging away one section at a time.

Start with someone like Kenny Garrett or Maceo Parker who play very blues oriented funk music which is generally not as harmonically adventurous as others. They will both, however, challenge your ability to notate rhythms!! Or just start with the heads of songs you are interested in. Start small.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to work on your relative pitch. i.e. the ability to pick intervals, picking one pitch after hearing a given reference.

Or develop perfect pitch. I've worked really hard on my relative pitch and it helps me get through transcriptions without too much difficulty.

Hope this helps.
Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Dan,
That Jazzman transcription was awesome, and I've put it to good use. Thanks again!

Thanks for all the advise, everyone! I think the "start small" logic makes a lot of sense, and I'm searching through my music library to pick out some possibilities to start on. Sounds to me like I just need to take my time and use lots of patience. I'll drop a post here in the future about my experiences and if I run into any difficult problems.

EDIT:
Just started on the Joe Henderson sax solo from "Song for My Father" from the album of the same name (Horace Silver). Have about 20 seconds of it done so far, which I figure is fair progress for my first ever. Using a program called "Transcribe!" works great for slowing down the music and looping, and also has a keyboard I can play pitches on. I've been getting the pitches first, and then figuring out the rhythms after, since at the moment I'm better with rhythms.
 

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windows media player feature

stjontl said:
To me this is a difficult art-form. I don't do this much or I choose a rather easy solo. You might need software for slowing down the music without changing the pitch. I use wavelab and apply the time stretching process to it.
For all kinds of different software and some general information you can have a look at the website of www.seventhstring.com.
I recently discovered that the latest version of windows media player will play anything at half time without changing the pitch of the notes. Just right click on the play button and choose "slow" I often transcribe at the computer and although I try to hear double time phrases at their original speed, it is sometimes nice to cheat.
 
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