collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

I did a gig in a prison once, right there in the lockdown. You can be pretty sure those dudes got the blues - Jerry Ricks, Port Townsend 99

Author Topic: Transcription question  (Read 2981 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online eric

  • Member
  • Posts: 688
Transcription question
« on: February 02, 2004, 07:36:43 AM »
John,
Can you explain how you go about transcribing a tune?  Sometimes, I can pick out a tune when the melody is simple or familiar, but on old blues tunes, what with unusual tunings, non-standard pitch, and scratchy 78s, sometimes it seems impossible.  Do you have a method?

Thanks,

Eric
--
Eric

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 12034
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Transcription question
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2004, 10:47:03 AM »
Hi Eric,
Welcome to the page, and, yes I do have a method for transcribing, though I am afraid there is no quick way to describe it in detail.  Basically, It works under the assumption that the various positions in standard tuning and the alternate tunings that have been used to play Country Blues have characteristic sound qualities and licks, based on what the instrument makes available to the player.
As an example, if you consider songs played in E position, standard tuning, the following characteristic sound cues will often occur:
   * If there is an alternating bass, in the I chord it will most often be an octave, between the open sixth string and the fourth string at the second fret.
   * In E blues, at some point during the course of the song you will almost invariably hear a hammer (often many of them) from the open third string to the first fret of the third string.
   * The bass will go up in pitch for the IV and V chords, because there is no note lower than the lowest root of the I chord, the open sixth string.
   * There is often a tendency to walk into the V chord, B7, via an ascending chromatic bass line on the fifth string, from open to first fret to second fret.
   * Often the V chord "travels"--by this I mean the B7 shape may be moved up two frets, downbeats may move from the fifth string down to the sixth string at the same fret, etc.  This is a sound you can hear on such songs as Lemon's "One Dime Blues", Son House's "Depot Blues", and many others.
There are additional clues that help to identify E position in standard tuning, but you get the idea.  Note that all these cues are intrinsic to the position itself, and don't pertain to the pitch at which a song is played at all.  So it is that after you build skills in this area you can identify Charley Jordan pieces as being played in E position, standard tuning, despite the fact that they are often capoed to the sixth fret, putting them in the absolute pitch of Bflat.
Each of the positions and tunings that Coluntry blues was played in has its own unique identifying cues, which make transcription possible (though sometimes awfully tough, especially with regard to the right hand).  The process, then, involves noticing those qualities which make each position sound different from all others, sort of keeping a catalog of them in one's mind when listening, and then trying it out.  I hope this helps, and best of luck with this.  It is very rewarding.
All best,
John

Online eric

  • Member
  • Posts: 688
Re: Transcription question
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2004, 01:57:19 PM »
John,

Thanks.  Along these lines. lately I have been listening to Frank Stokes, and like you said, characteristic licks appear that I can identify.  I think that the reason I can do this with Stokes is that his tunes have many similar licks to John Hurt in G, C and D fingerings, and I have lot of John's tunes in my repertoire already.

I've yet to try the St. Louis style players like Jordan;  but the old Yazoo LPs of St. Louis players are some of my favorite listening.  I'll have to get to work!

Best, Eric
--
Eric

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 12034
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Transcription question
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2004, 05:08:41 PM »
Hi Eric,
Best of luck with this endeavor, and from what you say of your work with Frank Stokes and John Hurt it sounds like you are on the right track--the process works best when you start with what you already know best and work outward from there.  You need not go for note-for-note transcriptions, either, as you figure songs out.  I think the idea of transcribing songs note-for-note is of pretty recent vintage.  Lots of the old guys when playing a song that they learned from a recording just sort of got it in the same ballpark.  I think part of it was not wanting to take the time to figure out something painstakingly, but the other thing was that I think that when playing a tune someone else played first, the players wanted to filter the musical ideas through the own sensibility and way of doing things.  All of which goes to say you can be as picky or lax as you want to be in engaging in the process.
All best,
John

 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2022, SimplePortal