Transcription: Clifford Brown on “Minority”

by Emily Fredrickson

Hello all!

Thank you for staying with us through the short break.  We have been preparing lots of special things (and keeping up with our studies), so be ready for lots of exciting posts!

This week we will feature a transcription of Clifford Brown on his album “The Clifford Brown Sextet in Paris.”  The album was recorded in 1953 and featured Gigi Gryce (alto saxophone), Henri Renaud (piano), Jimmy Gourley (guitar), Pierre Michelot (bass), and Jean-Louis Viale (drums).  For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to check this album out (and let me recommend doing so!), here is a link to the recording that the transcription is from (this recording is “Take 2” on the album).  Clifford’s solo starts around 2:05.  Now, before you dive right into this solo, lets set some preliminary guidelines for learning transcriptions.

1) Fall in love with it (or part of it!)

What do I mean?  Well, since you’re playing jazz, you probably already understand this concept, but to refresh your memory:

Don’t do something unless you love it!

Okay, yes, it doesn’t always work out like this, but this is something you are voluntarily doing with your time, so LOVE IT.

2) Listen, listen, listen

We all have those records we can sing along to, so make your latest project one of those records/tracks.  But go beyond just singing along: internalize it.  Feel each and every inflection.  And don’t just try to start singing along right away; you need to be fully aware of each and every nuance.

3) Play Along 

No, I didn’t forget the step “Write it Out.”  That’s coming, just hold on a second!  Here’s the thing: if you can sing it, you can already play it.  Maybe not at tempo, maybe not as clean as you would like, but if you can truly sing the notes and inflections, you can sing them at ANY tempo.  Even WITHOUT a “slow downer.”  I believe there are some exceptions, but I am convinced that you can be your own “slow downer” if you have really internalized the music.  So do your best to play along with the record during the learning process.  You might be surprised to find how much you can already play!

(P.S. I can’t take full credit for the order of these steps, because I had them backwards as well. You can thank trumpet genius, Sean Jones, for his helpful insight with this matter.)

4) Write it Out/Learn the Tune

Some people are not fond of the writing step, and some really don’t need to, however, I find it helpful for later reference and for my macro/micro analyses of the techniques being utilized.  If you’re confused about those, don’t worry, I’ll give you an example with the transcription at the end.  In the processes of analyzation,  memorize the chord changes and the melody to the tune.  Now you can add another tune to your “I Know These” list!

5) Analyze, Internalize, Apply

Why do we transcribe?  To learn!  To know why we make that face whenever we hear “that one lick.”  To know how to deepen our own musical vocabulary.  And, to fall more in love with this music through focused appreciation.

Analyze: What are they doing? Where? Why? How often?

Internalize: Do what they did in a focused, methodical way.  For example, learn “that one lick” in all keys or practice a line through the changes of the entire tune.

Apply: This takes time and patience.  The more you do something in the practice room, the more likely it is to come out on the band stand.  Application also involves the step of PERSONALIZATION.  *Insert Bird Lick Here* is only entertaining for so long (and who is it really entertaining besides you?).

Alright! So that was somewhat long winded, but it is an important thing to understand before I set you loose on this solo.  You are probably thinking, “So why are you giving us this transcription if you just told us to do it ourselves?”  Good.  I’m glad you’re thinking that.  The reason we will post transcriptions is so we can have an open discussion about the techniques utilized, and hopefully it will encourage some new transcribers to do some of their own favorite solos.  Also, there is nothing like appreciating a master of jazz by checking out what exactly they are creating.   Maybe you’ll find a lick or two that interests you (my favorite is mm. 33-36!).  Either way, we are happy to share anything that may encourage your journey in jazz music.

Attached you will find the solo in C, Bb, Eb, and bass clef.  Also, check out the Micro-Analysis (in concert pitch).  This is something I like to do to take in all the techniques being used in a solo.

Enjoy studying this genius!  And Swing Sisters, Swing!

-Emily Fredrickson

Harmonic Analysis

Minority – C Instruments

Minority – Bb

Minority – ALTO

Minority – Bass Clef


4 thoughts on “Transcription: Clifford Brown on “Minority”

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