Transcribing Tips

  1. Pick a solo that you enjoy! You’re going to be spending a lot of time with it.
  2. Be able to sing a section before you attempt to play it, and be able to play it before you write it down.
  3. Don’t just listen for notes and rhythms – emulate style, articulations, phrasing . . .
  4. If you know the chord structure of the song, that can help you with the transcription process.
  5. After you have written down the solo, analyze the musician’s choices given the harmony.
  6. Practice the solo in multiple keys so you can internalize your favorite licks and add them to you “improvisation toolbox.”
  • Recommended solos to transcribe for alto, tenor, and trumpet. (click here)
  • Recommended solos to transcribe for trombone and rhythm section. (click here)
  • All instruments – transcribing vocalists is a great start! (Nancy Wilson – Little Unhappy Boy; Mahalia Jackson – Motherless Child; Etta James – At Last)