Transcribe Tuesday — The head from “The Big Fat Hen” written by Jon Hamar

I transcribe a lot for my students, but I don’t get a ton of time to really work out things that players do that inspires me. I started working on this tune last Tuesday and it took me a week of working on it to get it this far. It was also nice to incorporate it in as part of my practice routine as a respite from the solo bass bag. This tune, “The Big Fat Hen” is written by Jon Hamar on his album Hymn (It is a completely inspiring album!!!), and features the bass playing the be-bop head with the other instruments. Jon is an amazing bassist and educator from Seattle, WA.

Working on my ear in this way is great for numerous reasons and the rewards can be, well…rewarding! The things I decide to transcribe in my free time feel like workouts. I feel like the guy that is hitting the boot camp class at the Y on January second with the people that have been doing it all year. I am just sucking wind and trying to keep up. So, a lot of my time is spent getting the strength and dexterity down to accomplish the ideas in a somewhat proficient manner. I use the program Transcribe to help loop and slow down a section so I can hear it and play it as precisely as possible. It also really helps to ingrain it into my memory. I have to play something a million times to get it to stick.

Transcribing is just plain fun. Being able to play along with people I look up to is killer and I feel like I am hanging. Mostly. Until I listen back and realize that I have a long way to go to feel like I am hanging at all. Transcribing and recording yourself, recording yourself regularly, is a great barometer for how you really sound. It’s not always uplifting, but it’s a step in the right direction of how you really want to sound. When I am playing along with Jon on this recording I feel like I sound like him, but when I watch/listen back I instantly see where I am lacking.

As I record my self more I hope to see an improvement in more areas that I may have never discovered had it not been for doing these types of exercises.