Just a short one today. I've been seeing a lot of great transcriptions lately, particularly at Cruise Ship Drummer. Well done Mr. Bishop! Transcriptions can be a record of something we've learned, we can use them in books, blogs, and articles to help others learn, etc. They are an important resource. I would also like to stress the importance of "lifting", which is learning something by ear and then translating it to the instrument, no paper involved! In my formative drumming years I was a pretty book-based learner so I came late to learning stuff from recordings. I really feel this is a indispensable part of learning. The cool thing too is that learning anything using your ears will help you. A beat, a fill, a solo, a melody to a tune. You'll get something out of all these things. Also, the more you do by ear, the faster and more accurate you'll get at it. Reading is also a vital part of playing. reading music helps you learn things quickly but I find I tend to not learn things as deeply. There are some recordings I've done where I was reading charts, and I listen to them and don't remember anything about the music I recorded! In sharp contrast, barring any unforeseen mental disfunction, I expect I'll remember "Sonnymoon for Two" for the rest of my natural life!
I would hasten to add that if there was any way of playing all the music I play from memory, I would love to do it. That isn't practical but this reminded me of something the great trumpet player from Chicago, Brad Goode, talked about at a clinic I was doing with him. He talked about the fact that as soon as we read music, we are using the practical/task oriented hemisphere of our brain. This is a very important part of the hard drive, but when we have stuff memorized it tend to reside more in the intuitive brain hemisphere. Now, it doesn't take a brain surgeon (sorry, I couldn't resist!) to see which part of the brain might be better for improvising.
So I've decided to try an experiment. I'm working with Mike Downes' quintet at the Rex this weekend. I'm going to try to commit as much of the music to memory as possible. Some things in my favour are: Mike writes great well constructed tunes with beautiful melodies and changes, and the forms etc, always make sense. Some things working against me are: the tunes are challenging with lots of shifting meters, the head and blowing forms tend to be different, and there's a lot of material. Anyway, I'm going to check it out and see how it goes!
Anyway, here's Mike's Tune "Gemini" from his CD "Winds of Change". Come by and see us at the Rex on Friday if you can.