Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Score of 4 Relaxin’ At Camarillo Solos

I’ve taken all of the solos I transcribed on Relaxin’ At Camarillo and put them in a score. The take is listed at the beginning of each stave. It’s pretty cool to look at these solos stacked up like this. There are a few instances where Charlie Parker played exactly the same line in the same spot in 2 different solos; a few rhythms line up like that, too. I will be taking a look at these and doing some analysis that I’ll share in the days to come. Enjoy!

Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Take C)

From the four takes that we have of Relaxin’ At Camarillo, Take C is the one that was chosen for release. This was actually the first of these solos I transcribed. The difference between this and the others was that I learned this one by ear and committed it to memory before writing it down. With the others, I listened to the recording and slowed it down using Transcribe!, wrote down what I heard, and checked it with my alto when I had it all written down. I thought that would be a good, practical application of the ear training I’ve been doing lately.

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Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Take E)

Here is another take from “The Complete Dial Sessions.” After putting this 3rd take down on paper, I’m beginning to see some patterns emerge throughout. I’ll share some of those in a later post.

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Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Take D)

Here is the next take of Relaxin’ At Camarillo. If you look at the 8th and 9th bars of each chorus, you’ll see that they’re almost exactly the same. Also, check out the 4th bar of the second chorus. To my ears, it sounds like a mistake and the last two notes are articulated in kind of an unusual way.

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Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Take A)

I’m spending a lot of time with Charlie Parker right now and thought I’d share a little bit of my work. This solo can be found on “The Complete Dial Sessions” by Charlie Parker. It’s a 4-disc set and has multiple takes of several tunes. It’s neat to listen and hear the differences and similarities between takes. I did have to adjust the pitch on this recording. “Relaxin’ At Camarillo” is a blues in C and the recording was flat by over a quarter-step, so it sounded like it was in B. I will be posting transcriptions of the other takes in the next few days.

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Ear Training Exercise #2

It’s been a few weeks since I posted my 1st ear training exercise and a variation on it. I’ve been working on them and have been making some improvements.

I’ve just began working on a new exercise. It uses the same tools as the 1st exercise, flash cards and a piano/keyboard, but is a little more advanced. In the 1st exercise, we used flash cards to sing different pitches/intervals using C Major as our key. In this new exercise, we will use the interval on the flash card as the root of a major triad that we’ll sing against a C major triad.

I’ll walk you through my process working on this exercise:

1. Shuffle the flash cards and lay them face down on your work surface.

2. Play a C major triad (C, E, G) with your left hand and flip over a card with your right hand.

3. While sustaining the C triad, sing the interval listed on the card. Let’s say that you’ve flipped over b13, you would sing Ab.

4. Try to sing an Ab major triad while continuing to play the C triad.

5. After you think you have sung the correct interval and triad, play and sing the notes of the Ab triad at the same time to check yourself.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 until you work through the whole deck of cards.

I think the most important part of the process is singing the interval and its triad before you play it. It is also important to do the work in the 1st ear training exercise before adding this one. Having a good understanding of the 1st exercise makes the 2nd one much easier.

Although I haven’t tried any of these yet, I’ve been thinking of some variations that you could incorporate into this exercise.

1. If the last note of the triad you sing is a tension, resolve it to a chord tone.

2. Sing other triad qualities – major, minor, augmented, diminished.

3. Sing inversions. When doing this, the interval on the card could act as the 3rd or 5th of the triad instead of the root.

4. Sing both ascending and descending triads.

I hope that acts as a good introduction to this exercise. I might start making videos of myself going through some of these exercise. I think something is lost between being able to see and hear how an exercise works and only reading the steps.

A Couple Shots From The Studio

I just recorded a few tracks with Moksha for their upcoming 2nd album on Monday and thought I’d share a couple of photos from the session. It went really well and I can’t wait to hear the final product!

I played baritone saxophone for the recording and this is the microphone they had for me. It’s a vintage Telefunken U47. These were made by both Telefunken and Neumann and they’re quite expensive. If you were to buy one, it would cost around $10,000!

After playing into it, I can see why. It had a deep, rich sound and I’m really happy with how it came out.

This is Bonzai Caruso sitting at the 96-input Solid State Logic board at Odds On Recording. Apparently, when it was built, this was the largest board of its kind in North America! Bonzai is a real genius and his body of work is prolific and amazing. I’m really excited to get to work with him.

Practicing on the go!

I just wanted to share a few ideas I’ve been reading and thinking about that deal with practicing when you don’t have access to your instrument. I’m talking about when you’re driving around town, waiting at the dentist’s office, or it’s late and you can’t practice in your apartment.

In this age of smartphones and tablet computers, our access to tools that can aid in practice is greatly increased. You can find several free apps that work with Android or Mac/Iphone. I have one on my phone called Splash Piano. It has a two-octave keyboard and a few different patches. Does it sound great? No. Can I play pitches on it? Yes, and that’s more important to me when it comes to practicing. You could use an app like this for the ear training exercises I recently wrote about or you could work on playing the root movement for a tune or work on an interval that’s been giving you trouble or about a million other things.

A great use of time in the car is make a cd of a tune or solo you’re working on (or plug in your mp3 player) and sing along, paying attention to get as many details as possible. You could also do this with your ipod during a workout, but people at the gym might look at you funny when you belt out a Rick Margitza solo on the treadmill.

Those are just a couple ideas. Feel free to comment on any ideas you have about practicing when you’re out and about.

Variation on Ear Training Exercise #1

It’s always good to try different approaches on an exercise when possible. It allows you to discover connections/associations you may not have been known about, or it can help you to solidify your understanding of concepts you kind of know, but you’d have to think about to apply. The development of skill in music really depends on your ability to be introduced to a new concept*, process it (slowly) over time through repetitive practice, and in the end, be able to use that concept without thinking through its technical details. The ability to ingrain concepts and apply them automatically is key.

The method for this variation is exactly the same, but I use different flash cards. In addition to cards that have numbers representing intervals, I also have a set of flash cards with pitch names for all of the pitches in the chromatic scale. I’m still playing the I-IV-V-I cadence in C before I attempt the exercise to have that pitch reference.

Another thing you can add to this exercise is saying the name of the interval (or pitch name) before you sing it. For example, if you’re working with the numbered flash cards in the key of C and you pull up #11, you could say F# before you sing it. Same thing working with the lettered flash cards – pull up F# and say #11 before you sing it.

One more thing, you could do these exercises in any key. I will probably rotate keys every couple of weeks.

* A concept could be almost anything – learning a new note, a new fingering, a chord, a scale, a tune.

Ear Training Exercise #1

In my last post, I mentioned working on intervals and sharing the exercises I’m doing. So, without further ado, here is the 1st Ear Training Exercise for 2011.

This exercise is a variation on a Charlie Banacos exercise I read about several months ago. In the Banacos exercise, you begin by playing a I-IV-V-I cadence in C to establish the key. This is followed by listening to single pitches, played by a friend or pre-recorded, and identifying them in relation to the key. When this becomes easy, you start working on 2 pitches played simultaneously and continue to add pitches from there.

Instead of using recordings of pitches or a friend playing, I made a set of flash cards, each with a number on it that represents an interval. I shuffle the deck of cards, play the cadence in C, and then flip over a card, try to sing the interval as it relates to C, and then check it on the piano, or whatever instrument is at hand.

I’m having good success with 1 note and am now working on doing 2 cards at a time. I flip two cards, sing the intervals in succession as they relate to C, and then check my work. Most of the time, I’m getting both pitches right, but sometimes I’ll pull up a pair that throws me for a loop! When I can get that worked out, I’ll move up to 3 cards, eventually seeing how far I can go.

My super awesome, professional quality flash cards!