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Jazz Piano Lessons: Ear Training: Transcription

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Let's talk about
This is the way that musicians have been
learning to play jazz
since time in memorial.
I mean I'm sure that Charlie Parker
spent his hours with the 78 RPM
record scratching it up.
Getting to where he could
transcribe things and
understand what the masters
before him had done.
It works on any number of levels.
From the minute you start trying to
pinch somebody else's stuff from,
what I guess these days is an audio file,
That works your ear right there,
as you work to find the notes
that are on the disk.
It's also great for your vocabulary.
It makes you listen to this music
in a way where you take it in,
in a different way than you listen to it,
then you take it in if you're just driving
down the road and it's on in your car.
What we're gonna do for our first
transcription exercise is we're gonna take
a solo off of one of the great
Jazz-Blues tracks ever recorded,
which is Freddie Freeloader off of
Miles Davis's record Kind of Blue.
And we're actually gonna grab
Miles's solo from there,
because it's all a single note thing.
Whitten Kelly's solo is also
an absolute masterpiece,
and we're gonna get to that as well.
But for now, there is no simpler but more
effective solo probably in the history
of music than what Miles Davis
plays on Freddie the Freeloader.
And also, it's a really great
look at motivic development,
how to develop your melody,
and how to make something.
It's one of those things that it's so
simple that only a master
could come up with it.
When we transcribe a solo, also,
we have the opportunity and
the experience of learning to lay it in,
like the master did.
And that's a lot of the mission here,
is to get this
maybe memorize it a chorus at a time.
I found when I was first starting to
transcribe, I did it all on pencil and
I think it's more effective, actually,
to just try to get it in your memory.
Especially when it's something with
as few notes in it as this solo has.
So, just grab a little bit of it
at a time, a phrase at a time.
And we have grand ambitions for
these transcriptions in
the next series of lessons.
Like I say,
every jazz musician has done this.
If there's something you like,
it might just be one little lick,
it might be a phrase, it could be a whole
solo that you wanna try to understand.
I mean, there's a masterpiece
of a jazz piano solo on
a John Scofield record called Rough House.
And Hal Galper just works
it out on this thing.
It is absolutely unbelievable,
it's the most powerful piano
playing I think I've ever heard.
It's very heavy into
the McCoy Tyner world.
And I transcribed the whole thing so I
could try to understand what was going on.
[LAUGH] And I brought it into Jerry
Bergonzi and said, what is he doing here?
And Jerry looked at it for
a really long time.
He put on his glasses and
he looked at it for a really long time.
And he said, I don't know.
And that's cool, too, you know?
Just the fact that I transcribed it.
Because I can now play like that.
But even though I couldn't figure
out how Hal was looking at it.
The experience of transcribing
it got that stuff,
got those neurons to connect up there and
it has still served me well.
Chick Corea, a master if there
ever was one, transcribed so
much that he eventually got to the point
where he could listen to eight bars of
a bebop saxophone solo, Charlie Parker or
Sonny Stitt, something like that.
Listen to eight bars at a time and
transcribe it.
So this is something that you want to make
a really essential part of what you do.
So, for now, go to iTunes or
Spotify or somewhere that you
can download the track to
Freddie Freeloader from
the album Kind of Blue.
If you don't have Kind of Blue,
it's really a must have,
the whole thing, and they've got
this really great thing now called
the Legacy Addition where it has all
the music from the original record.
And it has a ton of killer out takes and
talking false starts.
And it's the weirdest experience ever to
listen to these tunes that I've heard
thousand of times and
now here an alternate take.
It's really fantastic.
And it's not that much
more than the full CD so.
I encourage you to get that,
transcribe Miles Davis's solo on that.
And then we're gonna start to
work with that in future lessons.
Right now, transcribe it,
see if you can get it to feel like Miles
made it feel way back behind the beat.
And learn to play it in
it's original key and
that will be our ear training exercise,
our first transcription.