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How do I transcribe this? (Read 759 times)

Online ranjit

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How do I transcribe this?
« on: June 16, 2019, 07:45:12 AM »
I want to transcribe Oscar Peterson's Boogie Blues Etude:


I just wanted to ask: At some points, the "accompaniment" (left hand) on the piano sounds muddy to me, and I can't discern many of the notes. Also, when he plays forte in the right hand, it sometimes overshadows the left hand. Is it possible to individually hear each note, or do you rely on patterns?

Offline j_tour

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #1 on: June 16, 2019, 02:05:17 PM »
Well, my connection is too slow to hear the record right now, but I've transcribed more than my share of boogies.

If the recording is just too bad to hear the LH at all points, you can raise the pitch, which sometimes helps, or apply EQ to the track, which will almost certainly help (also don't forget you can fiddle with the stereo image/phasing, somewhat, if it's not a mono recording), but honestly, what I'd do is make some educated guesses as to what Oscar's playing in the LH. 

It's a fair bet that, in any given chorus, he's using a specific pattern.  Which might very well change when he feels like it, but likely not all that frequently. 

Anyway, the LH is small potatoes so long as you write down/learn the important features of his accompaniment.  And, of course, if you feel like playing it, you have to play it correctly with the right rhythm.

I could have sworn that I've seen this piece transcribed in some book somewhere, but I could be wrong.  Or, more importantly it could be a wrong transcription.  Or still more importantly, you may rather do it yourself regardless, for the experience.

Offline j_tour

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #2 on: June 16, 2019, 03:40:05 PM »
OK, I was able to listen to most of the video.

Pretty hot stuff.

So, I'm guessing the walking bass at the beginning shouldn't be too much trouble — for some people, that's a challenge to walk improvised bass lines while improvising.  But getting the actual notes shouldn't be too bad — and then you'll have another trick you can do on piano if needed.  Then the stride-style bass section— that, I would just fake and hit the right chords.  For me, too much trouble to get the exact notes.

When he ramps up to boogie, you can hear he's filling out one standard pattern with thirds in the bass — a little more texture than your basic rock and roll player might do in a band situation.  But that's a classic Pete Johnson type of trick.

I haven't heard to the end but for at least the first few choruses, yes, he is sticking to the pattern.  When he changes it up to walking in octaves, that should be easy to hear.

Anyway, the audio seems OK to me.

I'd just work on getting the right sound in the LH and not worry about it so much — nice thing about the boogies is that, even though the RH can do whatever, you've got that anchor for aligning the phrases to the beats when taking off the record his improvisations.

I didn't realize this was a live performance, but there are definitely some transcriptions (whether they're any good or not, I couldn't say) of Osc doing this kind of thing.  You could use those as a template and modify when needed.

In fact, the whole boogie part really reminds me a lot of Dr. John's "Mac's Boogie" from Mac Rebennack Plays Dr. John — both in mixing up LH patterns, the feel of the RH phrases (often a little behind the beat). 

The sound quality is excellent on that recording, and the LH parts are pretty much the same, so you could compare a little bit if it makes it easier.  I do have a transcription I made of that one, but I really wouldn't know where I filed it away in my stuff.

Online ranjit

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #3 on: June 18, 2019, 01:14:00 AM »
OK, I was able to listen to most of the video.

Pretty hot stuff.

So, I'm guessing the walking bass at the beginning shouldn't be too much trouble — for some people, that's a challenge to walk improvised bass lines while improvising.  But getting the actual notes shouldn't be too bad — and then you'll have another trick you can do on piano if needed.  Then the stride-style bass section— that, I would just fake and hit the right chords.  For me, too much trouble to get the exact notes.

When he ramps up to boogie, you can hear he's filling out one standard pattern with thirds in the bass — a little more texture than your basic rock and roll player might do in a band situation.  But that's a classic Pete Johnson type of trick.

I haven't heard to the end but for at least the first few choruses, yes, he is sticking to the pattern.  When he changes it up to walking in octaves, that should be easy to hear.

Anyway, the audio seems OK to me.

I'd just work on getting the right sound in the LH and not worry about it so much — nice thing about the boogies is that, even though the RH can do whatever, you've got that anchor for aligning the phrases to the beats when taking off the record his improvisations.

I didn't realize this was a live performance, but there are definitely some transcriptions (whether they're any good or not, I couldn't say) of Osc doing this kind of thing.  You could use those as a template and modify when needed.

In fact, the whole boogie part really reminds me a lot of Dr. John's "Mac's Boogie" from Mac Rebennack Plays Dr. John — both in mixing up LH patterns, the feel of the RH phrases (often a little behind the beat). 

The sound quality is excellent on that recording, and the LH parts are pretty much the same, so you could compare a little bit if it makes it easier.  I do have a transcription I made of that one, but I really wouldn't know where I filed it away in my stuff.

Thanks for the detailed analysis! I'll keep it in mind.

Offline j_tour

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #4 on: June 18, 2019, 02:18:01 AM »
Well, of course you're welcome.

As a way of "thank you," maybe you could tell me exactly what spot in the recording is difficult for you?

Believe you me, after doing "Mac's Boogie," "Boxcar Boogie," "Pinetop's Boogie," "Honey Dripper," and "Swanee River Boogie" off Dr. John's albums, as well as corresponding decade ago with people who did some of that ultra-precise Jools Holland stuff, I think I have a good handle on what at least some types of boogie is.

TBH, I maybe only do a boogie twice a month just for fun at home, running through all the keys, and I'm not an expert.

But if you point out a spot that's a problem in Osc's piece, I might transcribe it for fun.

IMHO it's his RH flair and idiomatic flavor that is the best in that live performance.  Yeah, I could transcribe that too, but that's half the fun in doing it yourself, isn't it?



ETA for Osc's walking bass technique, don't miss his albums like "Oscar Peterson with Harry Edison" and such.

Nothing against his trio records, but he was quite formidable in a duo format, particularly in the LH.

I play Hammond organ as well, so LH bass is nothing to me, but at the tempo and clarity of OP, he's pretty damned good.

ETA:  Off the album OP w Harry Edison, the track called "Basie":  yeah.  There's Osc doing all the tricks in the LH, and it's recorded beautifully.   Really, Osc goes nuts in the LH on just a straight boogie.

Good luck! 

People think boogie is some party trick for little kids, but IMHO, it's really *** hard to do well.  IMHO.

Offline j_tour

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #5 on: June 18, 2019, 04:22:07 AM »
I'll make a standing offer:  if someone (hint...the OP) transcribes or plays "Hymn to Freedom" off Oscar's Trio record called Night Train note for note (hint, it's really about the same as the Billy Taylor tune), I will personally transcribe the live performance from the original post.

To prevent cheating, it must be done in handwriting and, if any such transcription exists, explanations must be given for why the contestant's version is better.  Also, it has to legible, and four bars per staff, just out of principle.  And done in pencil. 

Offline georgey

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #6 on: June 19, 2019, 04:34:55 PM »
I'll make a standing offer:  if someone (hint...the OP) transcribes or plays "Hymn to Freedom" off Oscar's Trio record called Night Train note for note (hint, it's really about the same as the Billy Taylor tune), I will personally transcribe the live performance from the original post.

To prevent cheating, it must be done in handwriting and, if any such transcription exists, explanations must be given for why the contestant's version is better.  Also, it has to legible, and four bars per staff, just out of principle.  And done in pencil.

I have no doubt that you can do a great job with this offer.  How about also consider writing a variation on an original Russian folk theme and post it! Not your style you say?  Well, how about picking you favorite composer and write in his style. Any great composer from Bach to modern could write a great set on this theme.  How about writing a boogie on the theme?   ;D 

Don't like just for fun contests?  Just post it in the audition room and I'll put a link to it in the "JUST FOR FUN contest - write a variation on an original Russian folk theme" thread and say you are not a contestant, just an inspirational example.

But I understand completely if you don't have the time or the interest.  :'(

Offline j_tour

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #7 on: June 19, 2019, 08:47:17 PM »
Intriguing idea.  I've never composed a legit piece, just jazz tunes.

I just might fool around with it, probably in a contrapuntal, just to have something I can play for myself and hit some technical spots I need to work on.

Thanks!

Offline georgey

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #8 on: June 19, 2019, 10:04:39 PM »
Intriguing idea.  I've never composed a legit piece, just jazz tunes.

I just might fool around with it, probably in a contrapuntal, just to have something I can play for myself and hit some technical spots I need to work on.

Thanks!

Fantastic!  That's the spirit I'm looking for!  I look forward to hearing your work (if you have time)!  :)

Offline j_tour

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #9 on: June 20, 2019, 01:34:56 AM »
Fantastic!  That's the spirit I'm looking for!  I look forward to hearing your work (if you have time)!  :)

Cool, man! 

Yeah, I will get to it.

I do work really slowly — never quite got the hang of "multitasking" — but the idea of creating a few variations on a given theme which can serve as a technical study for me (probably for no one else) as well as varying contrapunctal voice-leading with some (I hope not too obvious) pastiches of different styles is very interesting to me.

Likely I'd write it down first, and, knowing me, I'd probably put off recording it (I still can't figure out phone/tablet cameras to the way I want) until later, but I'd at least try to write it out as a first stage. 

I like to think my handwriting is good enough that there shouldn't be any doubt the way it'd sound — and, no, I don't feel like doing odd compound meter things, so, it's going to be to the simpler side of things.

You're full of good ideas, so thanks again!

You know, in a world of music, sometimes a little spark of an idea can be just enough to get one out of the doldrums.

Offline georgey

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Re: How do I transcribe this?
«Reply #10 on: June 20, 2019, 03:30:44 AM »
You know, in a world of music, sometimes a little spark of an idea can be just enough to get one out of the doldrums.

Amen to that!  Feel free to post your thoughts or give a progress report in the "JUST FOR FUN contest ..." thread as you work on your composition.  I may do the same myself.