I’ve been working on transcribing a tune this weekend, McCarty’s reel as played by Angelina Carbery, all three times through. Partly to to learn the tune, partly to work on my ear, partly to learn abc better, and partly just to see if I was up to the challenge. Usually I just work out the first time through, or cobble up a version from different versions, or if I’m feeling lazy I’ll just pull out the dots. Close enough is usually good enough, but this time I wanted to get it all right.
A couple of unexpected things happened; firstly, as I was working out all of her amazing variations (and her variations on her variations), all while painstakingly going through the process of writing it all down note by note, I stated start to feel like I had sort of gotten into her head a little bit, her way of doing things. Secondly, when I went to play other tunes I found to my surprise that variations just started popping out left and right, in a way they never have for me before. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, but I took a couple of tunes and deviled around with them all night. And it felt great! And this was after transcribing one single tune!
I think I’ll be doing more of this as time allows. I know that it’s a big thing with jazz players, transcribing performances of the greats, but I’ve never really seen it come up here. Sure, we talk about learning from recordings, but I don’t really recall any discussion of how tremendously beneficial it can be to decipher the whole of a masterful take on a tune. I feel like I have been plateaued for quite a while now but, unless this was just some sort of fluke, things just took a big leap forward for me.
Anyway, that’s my top tip for the day, I hope you are all doing well.
*Also, McCarty’s reel is a hauntingly beautiful tune at around 30 bpm. 🙂