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Solos transcriptions and playing along with the original records

The task of transcribe solos is definitely not an easy one.

It requires a deep knowledge of the instrument and of the specific soloist's musical idiom.

Often a note-by-note transcription does not fit.

If we consider speech transcribeing, none would try to approach it by a syllabe-by-syllabe recognition, expecially for doubtful passages, or when audio quality is poor, or there is a lot of background noise.

Instead we would try to do a phrase-by-phrase recognition.

This is extremely easy for our native language, but more difficult for a non-native language, unless we know it very deeply.

The same occurs in music.

More, trumpet is an instrument whose sound emission is largely based on harmonics.

This means that with the same fingering we'll be able to play different notes, say a C note as well as an Eb note with the first valve down.

There are some cases where the soloist intention is obscured by an improper resolution on the specific instrument and so the emitted note is not the one it should be.

This may occur on all instruments. But the effect is quite different.

On harp we may touch a contiguos string, on piano a contiguos key; on trumpet it may happen that a contiguos harmonic results in the place of the intended one, altering the meaning of a musical phrase.

If we listen what Miles plays on So What, in the second half of Eb minor section of his first chorus, we hear

Here the effect of missing G note (concert F) twice is that of altering the sound of his phrase (but we all have it so in our hears!) And probably we could not recognize it if played as it had to be:



Let's have a look at a simple example.

This phrasing is from Quasimado (a masking for Embraceable You), take 2, recorded on 1947-12-17 for Dial Records, with Charlie Parker. Here's the beginning of Miles solo, starting on bar 9 of the harmonic structure:

If we consider Miles first phrase and we are familiar with Miles bebop idiom we understand that the phrase played by Miles should be different, something like this , id est there are some missed notes, so the sequence C-D-Eb-F-G-D-D-C should be C-D-Eb-F-G-D-F-Eb

Here is the complete phrase, from Klaunstance (a masking for The Way You Look Tonight), recorded few days after, on 1947-12-21 for Savoy

We can find many confirms of this, for example in a Bb blues, Another Hair-Do, take 4, recorded on the same date, 1947-12-21.

This is from Miles solo (open trumpet), and we hear the same phrase played correctly; here's the complete phrase .

And we find the same tag during the exchanges with Parker in the out theme exposition .

If we go back to Klact-Oveereds-Tene, recorded on November 4, 1947 for Dial, we find other instances.

This is the very beginning of Miles solo (open trumpet again) in take 1 where there is still a missed F note; here's the complete phrase .

It is much more clear in take 2, where we hear Miles's tag on the second 8 bars section, starting from bar 9: ; this is the complete phrase

So in the case of Quasimado, take 2, what our notation should be?

What we hear or what should the soloist play?

I guess the second.

With a special notation (such as brackets), with the meaning that what we transcribe is not exactly what we hear.

But this second can be played correctly, with a coherent fingering, and it makes sense definitely more than the first one.

List of referenced discography:

- Charlie Parker: The Complete Savoy Sessions

- Charlie Parker: The Complete Dial Sessions


Complete transcriptions of referenced Miles Davis solos are available on themusicofmiles



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