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Out of all the great masters, the venerated legends of jazz we revere, the great masters of jazz, guess how many had access to books full of transcribed solos? ZERO. OO%. Not. One. Of. Them. How did they learn? They are sight reading exercises AT BEST.

So you think these books are doing you some good? They are not. Are you actually bothering to do the listening? Are you falling in love with the music? Has it seeped through your pores and penetrated the innermost recesses and deepest fibers of your being? I walk down the street mentally singing my favorite Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins solos. Do you?

Do you really want to be a jazz musician? How badly do you want it? Or do you just like the IDEA of being a jazz musician?

Transcription books are sight reading tools at best. Transcribing your own solos is necessary. And at some point, you should stop doing that and hopefully get into doing your own thing. These days I just occasionally transcribe phrases that catch my ear that I pull out of solos. Otherwise I work on my own playing.

Learning to play jazz is learning an entire complex musical thought process. It includes learning how to "intuit" harmonies (from Jerry Bergonzi), and how develop your own voice, have your own style on some level or another. How to thing melodically, motifically, how to be in the moment musically and tap into cosmic energy among other things.

So Stop. Please just stop. These books are not helping you learn to play jazz. Transcription books are the last thing that will help you get to this place.

Like Branford says, everyone wants to be the hero, but nobody wants to slay the dragon.

There are many different pathways to learning. Everyone's pathway is a bit different, but success can only be achieved through an organic process in which the pleasure centers of the brain are fully lit up by LISTENING to your favorite jazz, and then they are lit up by practicing. For many 1000s of hours.
Michael Brecker's path was different than Paul Gonsaves' path. One thing I do know for a fact is that you will not find the path to becoming a successful jazz improvisor through transcription books.

So keep searching to find your own pathway. If you are serious, you need to be dedicated and not give up. DO NOT GIVE UP. EVER. Wishing you best of luck on your quest. We are all on that journey.
 

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You know the problem with absolute truths? They only exist to the one saying them and maybe a couple more, or a few hundreds more or thousands, but not for all.

You know what most of the greats also didn't have? CD players, computers, mobile phones, mp3s, tablets, the ability to listen to music from all around the world! So throw your devices out the window or donate them to someone in need of them and just go to the venues and bars, restaurants, streets where the music happens and be influenced only by what you are fortunate to come upon, by chance or by financial possibilities or restrains of time! Really want to listen to that cat that comes to the next town to play next week? Too bad you only knew about it 2 months after and he returned home.


And remember kids, most of them did a lot of drugs and alcohol and a lot of stupid things, so don't be shy, plounge in the deep side of the street and greet your neighbourhood dealer has a friend ;)
 

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Out of all the great masters, the venerated legends of jazz we revere, the great masters of jazz, guess how many had access to books full of transcribed solos? ZERO. OO%. Not. One. Of. Them. How did they learn? They are sight reading exercises AT BEST.

So you think these books are doing you some good? They are not. Are you actually bothering to do the listening? Are you falling in love with the music? Has it seeped through your pores and penetrated the innermost recesses and deepest fibers of your being? I walk down the street mentally singing my favorite Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins solos. Do you?

Do you really want to be a jazz musician? How badly do you want it? Or do you just like the IDEA of being a jazz musician?

Transcription books are sight reading tools at best. Transcribing your own solos is necessary. And at some point, you should stop doing that and hopefully get into doing your own thing. These days I just occasionally transcribe phrases that catch my ear that I pull out of solos. Otherwise I work on my own playing.

Learning to play jazz is learning an entire complex musical thought process. It includes learning how to "intuit" harmonies (from Jerry Bergonzi), and how develop your own voice, have your own style on some level or another. How to thing melodically, motifically, how to be in the moment musically and tap into cosmic energy among other things.

So Stop. Please just stop. These books are not helping you learn to play jazz. Transcription books are the last thing that will help you get to this place.

Like Branford says, everyone wants to be the hero, but nobody wants to slay the dragon.

There are many different pathways to learning. Everyone's pathway is a bit different, but success can only be achieved through an organic process in which the pleasure centers of the brain are fully lit up by LISTENING to your favorite jazz, and then they are lit up by practicing. For many 1000s of hours.
Michael Brecker's path was different than Paul Gonsaves' path. One thing I do know for a fact is that you will not find the path to becoming a successful jazz improvisor through transcription books.

So keep searching to find your own pathway. If you are serious, you need to be dedicated and not give up. DO NOT GIVE UP. EVER. Wishing you best of luck on your quest. We are all on that journey.
On the other hand, when I started getting seriously into the alto sax in 9th grade. I had the Charlie Parker Omnibook and the Phil Woods Solo book by Trent Kynaston. I practiced the tar out of those two books. The Phil Woods book was especially dear to me as I had the recordings and listened to them constantly. I had the solos pretty much memorized and could play them pretty darn close to the recordings. To say those books were useless and throw them away I disagree with. I learned a ton from those two books.........
 

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I agree. Great resources and nice for reading practice and when you can’t figure out a line by ear. I’m lazy about transcribing but all the time people say things like: Oh, I dug that Dexter or Trane line you threw in there, and I’m always just like oh, cool...osmosis works.
 

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Out of all the great masters, the venerated legends of jazz we revere, the great masters of jazz, guess how many had access to books full of transcribed solos? ZERO. OO%. Not. One. Of. Them. [...]
Michael Brecker's path was different than Paul Gonsaves' path. [...]
As with your statements regarding long tones, it's unfortunate that you have to take such a confrontational and extreme position, because your post does include some important points. I've personally gained a lot by avoiding transcription books (and other written exercises) for the past couple of years after I felt that I had become overly reliant on written music.

However, your main message is pure BS and is clearly and demonstrably false. For example, you specifically cite Michael Brecker as an example of a "venerated legend of jazz" and a simple google search will take you to an inventory of his archives containing clear evidence that he indeed "had access to books full of transcribed solos", including a copy of the Charlie Parker Omnibook and several books of Coltrane's solos.
 

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ANY way you can learn, is a good thing. Whether it’s from listening, reading, transcribing, talking about it with someone, practicing, performing, etc.

Anything that motivates you to keep an open mind to make things better, is a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
According to Wikipedia, the Omnibook was published in 1978, so sorry, Michael Brecker did not have any Omnibook to work out of when he was coming up. But you actually believe that because Michael had a few books of transcribed solos lying around along with 18 tons of other music related materials, including his own personal notebooks, that he actually used them? I cant believe it. I can't believe he ever cracked them open. It makes no sense. He was consumed working on his own thing.

As with your statements regarding long tones, it's unfortunate that you have to take such a confrontational and extreme position, because your post does include some important points. I've personally gained a lot by avoiding transcription books (and other written exercises) for the past couple of years after I felt that I had become overly reliant on written music.

However, your main message is pure BS and is clearly and demonstrably false. For example, you specifically cite Michael Brecker as an example of a "venerated legend of jazz" and a simple google search will take you to an inventory of his archives containing clear evidence that he indeed "had access to books full of transcribed solos", including a copy of the Charlie Parker Omnibook and several books of Coltrane's solos.
 

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Whatever works for you. I played a jam session last weekend and they were all married to music. Called so and so tune, then read, stumble , on to the next. Being an alto they had no eflat parts for me so I did it all by ear. Heads and solos. I missed some II Vs along the way but my lines were much more "performance than , Licks off of a chord sheet. The lesson to learn from all the greats is that they had books of their own transcriptions so Its all about ear training. Reading solos is good for reading chops but I just don't remember (for me) lines as well off a sheet versis me learning them by ear. playing tunes from the real book and whatever I real pro has all by ear for the last 9 years has done me a world of good. and I think I'm the only one i know of who does convalescent work every week. 450 at one place and 250 performances at the other. All by ear and my background track. Its different for different people, the people I jammed with had to have the songs in front of them even on songs they said they knew. for me its what I have internalized and that takes ear training. Either learn tunes or solos or whatever by ear and repeating. so do what works for you > K
 

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As with your statements regarding long tones, it's unfortunate that you have to take such a confrontational and extreme position, because your post does include some important points. I've personally gained a lot by avoiding transcription books (and other written exercises) for the past couple of years after I felt that I had become overly reliant on written music.

However, your main message is pure BS and is clearly and demonstrably false. For example, you specifically cite Michael Brecker as an example of a "venerated legend of jazz" and a simple google search will take you to an inventory of his archives containing clear evidence that he indeed "had access to books full of transcribed solos", including a copy of the Charlie Parker Omnibook and several books of Coltrane's solos.
The forum would be boring if everyone had the same opinions and methods.
 

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Transcription books can be fantastic. A great learning aid.
I taught saxophone for over two decades and my students got a lot out of those. SO DID I. Another learning tool. My students could see the chords and they could see what players were doing over those chords. You can learn so much that way.
Depending on what level you are at, that stuff can be invaluable.
When I studied with Bill Pierce at Berklee 35 years ago, he gave me transcriptions to work on all the time. That stuff was absolutely invaluable.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Really??? Honestly Bill Pierce "gave" you transcriptions "to work on?" He didn't give you a solo to transcribe yourself? He didn't tell you to do some serious ear training? Thats amazing to me and kinda hard to believe. But I didn't attend Berkley so I don't know how things work there.

Transcription books can be fantastic. A great learning aid.
I taught saxophone for over two decades and my students got a lot out of those. SO DID I. Another learning tool. My students could see the chords and they could see what players were doing over those chords. You can learn so much that way.
Depending on what level you are at, that stuff can be invaluable.
When I studied with Bill Pierce at Berklee 35 years ago, he gave me transcriptions to work on all the time. That stuff was absolutely invaluable.
 

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Really??? Honestly Bill Pierce "gave" you transcriptions "to work on?" He didn't give you a solo to transcribe yourself? He didn't tell you to do some serious ear training? Thats amazing to me and kinda hard to believe. But I didn't attend Berkley so I don't know how things work there.
That some crazy anger you've got going on this topic... show me on the doll where the Omnibook touched you ;)
 

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Really??? Honestly Bill Pierce "gave" you transcriptions "to work on?" He didn't give you a solo to transcribe yourself? He didn't tell you to do some serious ear training? Thats amazing to me and kinda hard to believe. But I didn't attend Berkley so I don't know how things work there.
I studied with Bill Pierce also for one or two semesters and remember a ton of transcriptions that he gave me to work on........
 

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I just spit out my orange juice! That was a funny way to wake up this morning.
Thank you for that.



As for the transcriptions, yes, Bill had made photocopies of stuff for me to work on at the time, and it was absolutely invaluable.
Of course I transcribed my *** off when I was there and did all the other things that players do to get better, and transcriptions were certainly a part of that.


To each his own, Larry. If you found nothing positive from those, so be it.
For me, there is plenty to get from transcription books and depending on what level you are at you can get more or less from them. A lot of the stuff you said I totally get that, but I guess the harshness in how you present yourself all the time here, is what’s so offsetting. Everyone is on their journey to be a better player here, and there are many ways to go about it.
That being said, If anyone here is throwing out their transcription books, please write me and I will give you my address info. You can send them to me and I will pass them on to players who would use them.

I remember buying those transcription books that they had at that time of Phil Woods, Dexter, Cannonball, Miles, Trane, etc. They were very valuable to me in many ways.
 

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Passion drives a person to want to acquire all the information they can possibly gain in the shortest amount of time. The jazz greats acquired their knowledge any way they could. Going to gigs to listen to their idols then going home and trying to copy what they heard. Playing with other musicians and learning from each other etc..... Later came recordings that were readily available. You can bet all those musicians bought and listened to those recordings because their passion drove them to get as many as possible. Later came transcriptions and transcription books. Passion drives a musician to get these because they want to know what is being played, they want to learn what is being played and how they can play it. They don't have a choice. Their passion pushes them forward.

The problem is not the transcriptions, the problem is what people do with the transcriptions. When I got that Phil Woods book I talked about earlier I stuck with that book for at least a year. I played and practiced the solos every day with the recordings. I started to memorize them and then try to play as much as I could without the sheet music. I tried to copy exactly what I heard Phil Woods doing. I didn't move on until I felt I had it perfected. That book was a huge influence, inspiration and source of knowledge for me.

That brings us back to what the issue is. The true issue is not the transcription book but the lack of unrelenting focus and work that it takes to master something. When learning a solo by ear, you are forced to do this because you have no choice. You can also do this with a transcription but you have to be driven and resolute in your goal of mastering that solo. The problem now is that people buy books or download transcriptions and then put them on their book shelf or read through it a couple of times and then put it in a folder on their computer. The next day they are on the internet looking for more solos to add to their collection. Nothing is ever mastered or learned.

What ever you are working on whether it be a book, solo or anything, do yourself a favor and spend one month on it. Be obsessed with it. Listen to it constantly! Sing along with it! Practice the tar out of it and try to memorize it day after day for a month. Don't ask me how many hours you should spend, etc.....Asking that question tells me you don't have the passion required. A person with passion doesn't think that way. They think, I have to spend as many hours as I have to to master this! I have to make it happen because I am compelled to.......Don't ask what the minimum amount of time is to be a great sax player. Decide you want to be a great sax player and commit to spending the time required for you to achieve that........
 

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Out of all the great masters, the venerated legends of jazz we revere, the great masters of jazz, guess how many had access to books full of transcribed solos? ZERO. OO%. Not. One. Of. Them. How did they learn? They are sight reading exercises AT BEST.

So you think these books are doing you some good? They are not. Are you actually bothering to do the listening? Are you falling in love with the music? Has it seeped through your pores and penetrated the innermost recesses and deepest fibers of your being? I walk down the street mentally singing my favorite Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins solos. Do you?

Do you really want to be a jazz musician? How badly do you want it? Or do you just like the IDEA of being a jazz musician?

Transcription books are sight reading tools at best. Transcribing your own solos is necessary. And at some point, you should stop doing that and hopefully get into doing your own thing. These days I just occasionally transcribe phrases that catch my ear that I pull out of solos. Otherwise I work on my own playing.

Learning to play jazz is learning an entire complex musical thought process. It includes learning how to "intuit" harmonies (from Jerry Bergonzi), and how develop your own voice, have your own style on some level or another. How to thing melodically, motifically, how to be in the moment musically and tap into cosmic energy among other things.

So Stop. Please just stop. These books are not helping you learn to play jazz. Transcription books are the last thing that will help you get to this place.

Like Branford says, everyone wants to be the hero, but nobody wants to slay the dragon.

There are many different pathways to learning. Everyone's pathway is a bit different, but success can only be achieved through an organic process in which the pleasure centers of the brain are fully lit up by LISTENING to your favorite jazz, and then they are lit up by practicing. For many 1000s of hours.
Michael Brecker's path was different than Paul Gonsaves' path. One thing I do know for a fact is that you will not find the path to becoming a successful jazz improvisor through transcription books.

So keep searching to find your own pathway. If you are serious, you need to be dedicated and not give up. DO NOT GIVE UP. EVER. Wishing you best of luck on your quest. We are all on that journey.
I agree with most of what is being said in this thread by others. I also see your point and agree in some respects. To really focus on listening and transcribing is the heart of learning jazz and getting to a really high level. You won't be able to do it without listening and transcribing.

That being said, I do think that transcription books have their place, and Steve hit the nail on the head. It's how you use them. I have students that want to play Charlie Parker solos, but there is NO way possible that they can transcribe Bird with the level of their transcription skills. So I have them play and learn out the omni book. I make them slow down the solos and play along with Bird and then begin to speed it up. They get soooo much from this. Articulation, style, tone, phrasing etc. If I made them transcribe Bird out the gate, they'd quit.

Anyway ... it's the same thing with Transcription books as it is with long tones. They are very useful tools, but it depends on how the player uses them as to whether it's good or not.

Sideways question ... why are you so extreme all the time? It is either fully this way or fully that way and the other side is pointless, useless and a waste of time. I mean, it's your opinion and you can view it however you want, but don't you think that sitting down and truly digging into ways to apply these exercises (long tones / trans. books), that you think are useless, would be beneficial, rather than just posting threads constantly about how everyone is wasting time and doing it wrong?

Just curious.
 
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