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Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
#3033188 10/07/20 04:38 PM
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I play mostly transcriptions(by others) of great jazz pianists like Bill Evans, Fred Hersch, Dave Grusin, Gershwin, Fats Waller, George Shearing,etc.Why do virtually all of them lack phrase marks like most classical music has?

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Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
pianoloverus #3033211 10/07/20 06:19 PM
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This is just a guess: Most transcriptions are done by improvising jazz musicians to see how others improvise. They publish them primarily, I think, for people learning to improvise, rather than people who simply play transcriptions. Thus, the people using the transcription are expected to listen to the music themselves to hear the phrasing and accents. In addition, you cannot perfectly notate what a jazz musician has done. You can perfectly notate the notes (unless it's a horn player!), but rhythm, accents, phrasing, etc. is approximate, and once again, since the primary target are students of improvisation, it is assumed they want the exact phrasing, which can only be obtained by imitation.

Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
pianoloverus #3033237 10/07/20 10:02 PM
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I agree with jjo-

the written notes of a transcription are almost secondary to the intimacy the player has to have with the recording that the transcription comes from.

Listening comes first and the notes on the page are there for reference.


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Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
pianoloverus #3033253 10/08/20 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I play mostly transcriptions(by others) of great jazz pianists
Probably printed transcriptions? The interests of publishers of classical music and jazz transcriptions are different. Beethoven was not a very busy transcriptor - arranger delivering his products to publishing houses; he was a composer demanding the precise performance of his music.
Requirements for transcriptions in jazz, pop and even more so rock, are at a lower level ;this can refer to harmony, rhythm and pitch; before phrasing notation. Of course, when ordering transcriptions privately, you can demand the highest level of accuracy; and payment in accordance.
The professionals use their own transcriptions in combination with the original recordings, so not everything is written. On the other hand, I very rarely met transcriptions for students; for which phrasing signs are just necessary, but they were absent.
It is quite another matter, modern notation in arrangements for ensembles and big bands. There are specific requirements for phrasing notation - to save rehearsal time. This was the case when I played with the big band the only concert with the New York Voices ensemble. All arrangements were made by their director Darmon Meader , and all the notation - tempo, dynamics, articulation, phrasing - were precisely marked.

Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
Nahum #3033294 10/08/20 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I play mostly transcriptions(by others) of great jazz pianists
Probably printed transcriptions? The interests of publishers of classical music and jazz transcriptions are different. Beethoven was not a very busy transcriptor - arranger delivering his products to publishing houses; he was a composer demanding the precise performance of his music.
Requirements for transcriptions in jazz, pop and even more so rock, are at a lower level ;this can refer to harmony, rhythm and pitch; before phrasing notation. Of course, when ordering transcriptions privately, you can demand the highest level of accuracy; and payment in accordance.
The professionals use their own transcriptions in combination with the original recordings, so not everything is written. On the other hand, I very rarely met transcriptions for students; for which phrasing signs are just necessary, but they were absent.
It is quite another matter, modern notation in arrangements for ensembles and big bands. There are specific requirements for phrasing notation - to save rehearsal time. This was the case when I played with the big band the only concert with the New York Voices ensemble. All arrangements were made by their director Darmon Meader , and all the notation - tempo, dynamics, articulation, phrasing - were precisely marked.
I think your explanation is probably mostly likely correct. I have hundreds of printed jazz transcriptions, and I think the only one that has phrasing is one I commissioned of this piece https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K7kKJ7IIog . I didn't request phrasing but the transcriber, Doug Gould https://twitter.com/itranscribejazz, is particularly accurate and precise so probably includes phrasing in all his transcriptions. He also transcribed at my request this performance by Erich Korngold playing from one of his classical scores and included phrasing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXDuBKvQ8-U.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/08/20 07:51 AM.
Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
jjo #3033299 10/08/20 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by jjo
This is just a guess: Most transcriptions are done by improvising jazz musicians to see how others improvise. They publish them primarily, I think, for people learning to improvise, rather than people who simply play transcriptions. Thus, the people using the transcription are expected to listen to the music themselves to hear the phrasing and accents. In addition, you cannot perfectly notate what a jazz musician has done. You can perfectly notate the notes (unless it's a horn player!), but rhythm, accents, phrasing, etc. is approximate, and once again, since the primary target are students of improvisation, it is assumed they want the exact phrasing, which can only be obtained by imitation.
I think this was probably true a while ago, but in this last 25+ years there have been almost endless volumes of transcriptions of the great jazz pianists published so my guess is that it has become quite popular for non jazz pianists, like myself, to want to play and perform these transcriptions. Just for Bill Evans, I think there must be at least 20 volumes of transcriptions of his playing.

Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
pianoloverus #3033304 10/08/20 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
and I think the only one that has phrasing is one I commissioned of this piece ://.youtube.com/watch?v=-K7kKJ7IIog . .
I did the last ordered transcriptions exactly that way, including designations of the right and left pedals (something from H. Zimmer), but each time I set a convenient time for me - this is not my main business for me.

Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
pianoloverus #3033872 10/09/20 02:35 PM
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Notation can't give you the subtleties of phrasing or even rhythms. You want to learn the phrasing listen, listen, listen, and listen some more to a recording what the transcription that was transcribed. Then sing the phrases to really get the timing and phrasing together.

Notation can't give the all the details of a piece of music. To even come close the page would be black with so much ink on it. Best to look at sheet music as a blueprint that you have to bring to life.

Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
pianoloverus #3033876 10/09/20 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by MrShed
Notation can't give the all the details of a piece of music. To even come close the page would be black with so much ink on it. .
Pencil. This is exactly what the personal notes of Sviatoslav Richter looked like.

Re: Phrase marks in jazz transcriptions
MrShed #3033886 10/09/20 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by MrShed
Notation can't give you the subtleties of phrasing or even rhythms. You want to learn the phrasing listen, listen, listen, and listen some more to a recording what the transcription that was transcribed. Then sing the phrases to really get the timing and phrasing together.

Notation can't give the all the details of a piece of music. To even come close the page would be black with so much ink on it. Best to look at sheet music as a blueprint that you have to bring to life.
I'm not convinced your idea is valid because it could just as well be given for classical music where there are usually phrase markings. Even though notation can't give all the details, I don't think it's unreasonable to try and give as close an approximation as possible even if it's not perfect.

My questions was only asked only out of curiosity. I have no desire of ever trying to be a true jazz pianist even though my present rep is almost exclusively jazz transcriptions. I just enjoy playing this kind of music.


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