Many activities enhance our improvisation, perhaps research through transcription, or further musical investigation through active listening, or the delight of free improvisation or musical sketching. Transcription is perhaps the most often employed, altough students and aspiring musicians frequently under-utilise this activity, generally because they are in too much of a hurry. There are loads of benefits but also potential pitfalls but it is critical that you engage with the process clear in your mind as to why you might transcribe. This is a process of internalisation and works at a number of levels. Of course there is the absorption of information but also time/groove (if you memorise by playing-along with recordings), conceptual approaches and the alignment of technical, conceptual and expressive functions. It is also the learning process that is  closest to how we learn to speak, convey meaning and express ourselves. Dave Liebman has written extensively on the subject (see his essays “My Philosophy of Education” and the shorter “Summary of the Transcription Process”). My own (very short) advice is as follows:

If approached with regularity and in the 4 stages outlined below, this is probably your most useful tool at this stage in your development.
1.1 Select a solo for its usefulness. Transcribe in 3 stages:
a. Memorise a segment and sing along with recording. Gradually increase up to 8 bars, 16 bars, a chorus. Don’t move on until you have memorized and can sing a whole chorus with and without the CD. This will measure your retention.
b. As (a) on your instrument – with and without the CD.
c. Now transcribe the first chorus, select and write out at least 4 favourite/useful licks. Write at least 4 variations on each one.
d. Memorise the 4 licks and your variations and apply to you daily practice as described in the “2nd visit” – see “On Practicing V7”.
1.2 Transcribe every day.

Transcription Software
Transcribe! from Seventh String Software. Essential tackle for transcription, easy to use and produced by jazz musicians for jazz musicians. Click on the banner…


My transcriptionsclick here
Transcription Sitesclick here


2 thoughts on “Transcription

  1. Hello there, I discovered your website by means of Google even as searching for a similar matter, your web site came up, it seems great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  2. We have requested playing positions in your new orchestra for jazz, in Malvern,10am on 6th November. im not sure if its ‘us’ but we both play Bluegrass and Blues and i know this is different but maybe it will open doors for ideas and styles to us. My husband uses notes and music sheets to play and i found here it seems i may find it easier as i am more flexible and i use my memory moreso. i played fiddle for just 3 years. any h ow we ll try it if you dont disagree and say so. thanks for reading this. The Cube Malvern introduced me to it. Jill M Peer

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