An Essential Tool To Help You Learn Jazz

monk transcribeWhat if you could take a jazz piano lesson with Bill Evans?  How about a trumpet lesson with Miles Davis?

What if we could study advanced jazz improvisation techniques with John Coltrane?

Or imagine what it’d be like taking a piano for beginners class, taught by Duke Ellington

Unfortunately, these great masters have long since passed but there is still actually a way we can get “inside their minds” and learn from them.

By sitting down and actually transcribing some of the music of your favorite players you can unlock all kinds of musical discoveries!

Transcription Is Great For Your Music Education

Spending your time transcribing music is one of the deepest and musically life changing things you can ever do.

Although, I was never fortunate enough to meet Miles Davis or Red Garland I have learned a ton from them by sitting down and  figuring out the exact notes they played.

For example, after transcribing a number of Red Garland’s solos I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of what he was thinking musically. It’s almost like a window into his mind.

This is an extremely powerful concept and very enlightening. Learn from the masters!

Now, for a lot of people actually sitting down and trying to transcribe music for the first time, it can seem like a daunting task.

Notes can seem to go by too fast to hear or play along with. Rhythms can be hard to feel. Chord voicings can be difficult to hear. In addition, important music elements like articulation can be easily missed as well.

Your Music Transcription Solution

So, how are you supposed to learn from these great masters when most of the subtleties of their style are just so hard to catch?

I’m going to let you in on an industry shortcut. There is a fantastic piece of software out there that will really make the whole process of transcribing music much easier.

In addition, working with it will improve your musical ear training and music theory skills.  It’s a staple in my piano teaching studio and I use it in my personal practice as well.

Special Software For Transcription

This fantastic program is called Transcribe.  Transcribe has a ton of useful features for musicians trying to learn music from recordings. It’s an essential tool for learning jazz. If you can hear it now you have the ability to learn it!

So, here’s a rundown of some of the things I find great about this program.

Cool Features Of Transcribe

- With the program you have the ability to slow down any audio up to 80% without changing the pitch.

- You can slow down videos with both the visual and the audio components being slowed down in tandem.  This is great for Youtube video performances or DVD’s that you’d like to explore at a slower tempo.

– Loop any section of music you like over and over.  This is huge if you want to really focus on smaller sections of music and really master the notes.  You can gradually speed it up as your playing ability increases.

– Transpose any recording to any key.  I spend a ton of time working out musical ideas I learn from recordings. With the touch of a button I can play along with the original recordings transposed to all 12 keys. This is super fun!

transcribe-software-You can even see a visual representation on a virtual piano of the notes being played.

If you’re new to hearing and transcribing chords the program also gives you some suggestions of possible chord names that are played at that time by analyzing the notes.

– Personally, I use Transcribe as a tool to help my with my ear training. Often times I’ll just press the loop button and just listen to a section over and over.  I don’t even really look at the additional note identification on the screen. That’s just one way of using the program though. It’s very versatile!

– You can even EQ certain frequencies out of the mix so you can add your own solos or parts to pre existing recordings.

– It even has it’s own dedicated “karaoke” function (vocal elimination effect).  This can help you hear the background parts on recordings under the vocals much easier.

– There is a free 30 day trial going on right now where you can try out Transcribe for free.

Here are a few screenshots of the Transcribe Program

how to transcribe music

 

Here’s a shot of the transpose window on Transcribe.

Music Transpose Program

 

Update:  As I mentioned earlier Seventhstring.com (the makers of Transcribe) actually have a special 30 day trial going on right now. This is a 30 days evaluation period for free. If you want to continue using it after that you must buy it.

Once you try it though I think you’ll see how important of a tool it will be in your music practice.

Have a blast with this and I hope you get as much musical knowledge out of it as I have.

Click here for more information on Transcribe!

Please note that I do receive a small affiliate if you purchase through the links above. This is at no additional cost to you. This helps me recover a small portion of the monthly costs of running this site. I recommend products because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Since I use Transcribe everyday I know how helpful it can be for all musicians. Please do not spend any money on products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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I’d love to hear about your musical discoveries.  Who are you going to metaphorically “take a lesson with today”?   Please leave a comment below and let us know who you’ll be transcribing. Let’s learn from each other :)

Also if you’re new here please subscribe to the mailing list to receive free jazz lessons in your inbox.

Steve Nixon is the proud owner of Freejazzlessons.com. He is a world touring jazz and blues keyboard player and educator.

Steve is the author of Premium Jazz Lessons Elite Membership (A comprehensive all-in-one online jazz piano course.)

He is also the author of the The Jazz Masters Method DVD (A study of 9 legendary jazz piano players).

If you are a blues piano fan you can also check out his popular Learn Blues Piano DVD Course.

His brand new course \”The Christmas Jazz Piano Super System\” will be released on Monday November 3rd, 2014.


  • Ilya

    Transcribe! is very useful! I use it about two years. Our ways of using it are coincident: not only for transcribe, but as an accompaniment. Sounds great!

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      That’s an excellent point.  It can also be used as an accompaniment program.  Lots of fun.