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Joined: 28 Aug 2008
United Kingdom
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Transcribing Songs

by JazzMaverick

17 Oct 2008
Views: 13287

I've mentioned this in my "Practicing Routine" lesson, but I can't tell you enough how important transcribing really is.

I've seen people who say transcribing songs or licks is a waste of time. Transcribing is probably one of the best ways to understand your instrument. The more you transcribe, the more you'll be able to "see". You'll be able to improvise and also improve on your speed, rhythm, and technique in no time.

While transcribing a song or lick, take it apart so you understand absolutely everything about it. Know what chords are being used, how the melody compliments the chords and how the chords compliment the key, what mode, the timing of each note- is it playing on the "on" beat every time? How would you improvise over it? Are there any Chromatics? How can you apply this to your improvising?

The idea is to transcribe one piece and move onto another right away, but this is entirely up to you. Move on when you're comfortable and feel you can remember what you've just learned. It is so important that you challenge yourself, though! Even though you can run out of patience, keep trying, itíll pay off in the end! Iím not saying push yourself; if youíre not happy, stop doing it. But if itís just frustration, keep at it!

"The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist, the opportunity in every difficulty." - L.P. Jacks

Once you've transcribed a song, learn from it, pick it apart! Remember what you've done and then try your own thing over it. Improvise over it and watch yourself improve. Because you know that song in such detail now, this should be a lot of fun to improvise over.


Also, check out my music listed on Sound Cloud (link below) if you like it follow me on facebook! :)

JazzMaverick on Sound Cloud
JazzMaverick Music




Definatly good practice.
A good band to start on is The Shadows.
Listen to their music and figure out exactly what they are playing, chords and melody.
They don't use complex melodies or chords so it's a good place to start.


Thanks Joe =D

I've never even heard of The Shadows, I'll check them out.


What bands would you recommend starting with? I'll check out the Shadows, but would anything with just chords be easier?

I am very interested in figuring out songs for myself, since I recently have read many articles and interviews, and the artists say the best thing to do is learn things yourself. Jimmy Page said his best decision in his guitar career was to learn songs by ear.


Acoustic Alchemy was my first choice to understanding chords. They helped me out a lot.

Next could be George Benson, but some of his songs are a bit fast for some.

Chick Corea was a massive help to me.

Jamey Abersold has endless lessons which are so helpful. He helps in every aspect of music, too.


The strokes are pretty easy to figure out, and use a variety of melodic/harmonic devices


Grant Green


and Beatles(oops)


Thanks, gonna put my mind to it!


I'd be weary of some of the new pop music groups out there nowadays. They tend to have very simple melodies and don't really explore past simple rules of music theory.


Glad I dont listen to hip hop pop rap bull*** ^_^

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