Transcribing | Guitargate

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In this masterclass, Jamie McLean dives into the often overlooked but crucial skill of music transcription, aiming to elevate participants' playing, soloing, and ear training abilities. He emphasizes the importance of not just relying on theory, scales, and chords but also on the ability to transcribe music by ear as a means to learn new material effectively. Jamie shares his recent experiences of being in "recording mode" for the Jamie McLean Band's new record, setting the stage for a session packed with insights drawn from real-life application.

Throughout the masterclass, Jamie methodically breaks down the process of transcribing music, starting from identifying the key and tonality of a piece to dissecting its chord progressions and melodic lines. He uses examples from his work on a side project covering songs by John Scofield, demonstrating how to approach complex tunes through transcription. Jamie encourages participants to start simple, choose songs they enjoy, and gradually build their transcription skills without resorting to looking up tabs or tutorials online.

By the end of the masterclass, Jamie has covered a range of topics, including the nuances of rhythm, the importance of ear training, and the benefits of transcription for improvisation. He invites participants to share their transcription attempts and suggests future class topics, fostering a community of learners eager to improve their musicianship. Jamie's approachable teaching style and emphasis on practical skills make this masterclass a valuable resource for guitarists looking to deepen their understanding of music through transcription.

Transcript Summary


  • Introduction (00:02:945 - 00:04:005)
    • Jamie greets everyone tuning into the stream.
  • Weekly Update and Agenda (00:04:735 - 00:39:285)
    • Jamie shares updates about recording a new record for the Jamie McLean Band.
    • He expresses enthusiasm for the current session, aiming to cover topics beyond the basics.
    • Highlights the importance of transcribing music as a tool for improvement.
  • Transcribing Music (00:39:565 - 00:59:445)
    • Discusses the value of transcribing music by ear over relying on pre-made transcriptions or tutorials.
    • Mentions personal experiences with learning music and how technological changes have impacted learning methods.
    • Encourages viewers to develop their own transcribing skills for a deeper understanding of music.
  • Practical Transcription Tips (01:00:105 - 01:08:445)
    • Jamie shares insights from starting a side project involving John Scofield's music, emphasizing the learning process.
    • Emphasizes the benefits of learning music through transcription to expand vocabulary and discover new playing styles on the fretboard.
  • Learning and Ear Training (01:09:585 - 01:31:165)
    • Discusses the process of figuring out songs by identifying key signatures and chord tonality.
    • Shares strategies for developing ear training, such as recognizing intervals and chord qualities.
  • Application and Examples (01:31:825 - 02:00:805)
    • Applies earlier discussion points to learning specific songs, including determining keys, chords, and melodies.
    • Highlights the importance of starting with simple songs and gradually tackling more complex pieces.
  • Conclusion and Future Suggestions (02:01:865 - 02:19:025)
    • Encourages viewers to practice transcribing and share their progress.
    • Opens the floor for suggestions on future lesson topics.
    • Emphasizes the lifelong journey of learning music and the joy found in continuous improvement.

As the Axe man for The Dirty Dozen Brass Band for years, and working with all the heavy hitters including Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Trombone Shorty, Los Lobos, Blues Traveler, Marc Broussard, and so many more… Jamie is the PERFECT window into what it takes to thrive with the very, very best.

(IMHO, The level of musicianship in NOLA is probably the best in the country - if not the whole world.  THE RHYTHM. THE SWAGGER. THE VIBE!!)

Jamie is a spectacularly tasteful guitarist - but that’s not the whole story:  He’s an equally Incredible singer and songwriter.  As you know, I’m obsessed with understanding WHY things get stuck in your head, WHY hits are hits, and HOW rhythm, harmony, and wait for it - MELODY - work together to craft something moving and unforgettable.  Jamie is uniquely able to take us on a journey beyond the fretboard, and go deep into the craft of making great music & being an even better storyteller.

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