Warming Up

Warming Up

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Practicing: Transcriptions and Fourths Exercises

A number of years ago I stumbled across the website of Chicago-area trumpeter, Jeff Helgesen. Helgesen is one of those musicians that are in probably every town around the country – the local who is good enough to be on the national and international scene but for the most part they stay local, maybe raise a family, teach or work a job, all while playing at a very, very high level. I’ve never met Helgesen but I have heard his trumpet playing and he is very good. He’s also apparently very good at transcribing jazz trumpet solos. A while back he migrated all of his transcriptions to a blog. He doesn’t post stuff all the time like some bloggers, but occasionally a new solo or musician interview pops up. I’ve never been a big transcriber myself although I often wish that I did more of that sort of thing. That said, I do like to play through transcriptions sometimes just for practicing sight-reading and for getting ideas on specific tunes that I might be working on. There are tons of transcriptions of many different players on Jeff’s blog. And if you’ve ever heard of the somewhat obscure (at these days) trumpeter Don Fagerquist, you’ll be able to find transcriptions of practically every one of his recorded solos on Helgesen’s blog. Also posted are some classic Woody Shaw interviews. Also posted is this cool fourths exercise by pianist Walter Bishop, Jr. I like this exercise because all twelve tones are organized in fourths in the span of one octave. It’s a nice exercise on the trumpet because you don’t have to make big register changes and can really work on evenness and speed. Here’s the exercise ascending and then descending – I like to practice the descending one more because, like most trumpet players, I need more work on moving down than going up:

And here’s Walter Bishop Jr. playing the exercise:

Definitely check out Jeff Helgesen’s blog. Lots of fun stuff over there.

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