View Full Version : Identifying all notes in odd Jazz-style chords (Holdsworth, etc)

06-23-2006, 02:38 PM

Does anyone have any tips of how to learn to identify all the notes in more complex guitar chords when transcribing?

I've been trying to hear what's going on in some Holdsworth tunes and also some Scott Henderson stuff and I find that I easily hear the higher notes in the chords, but the lower notes are more difficult to hear.

Has anyone else encountered this problem?

06-23-2006, 03:37 PM
Start with the highest and lowest notes of the chord, as they are the easiest to hear. Then, try out different possibilities until you find something that's a match. Sometimes you can use theory to narrow down the possibilities, and also since you know the highest and lowest notes, the physical possibilities on the fretboard are now much more limited, so use that to your advantage. Just like transcribing melodies, the more you transcribe harmony, the quicker and more accurate you'll get at it.

06-24-2006, 08:21 AM
guitar chords, especially with effects, can be quite difficult even at the best of times.

Like Poprad said, theory can allow you to make reasonable guesses, but honestly you are going to have to put it on and listen to that one chord over and over again and eventually middle voices will start to pop out. When chords are switching try and listen to how individual notes are moving. Try and hear a note in the chord and follow that one note to where it resolves in the next chord.

Don't take this the wrong way, but if you're asking this question something tells me you may not be at the level where transcribing Holdsworth harmony is going to be all that benifitial. There are no secrets and anyone who has transcribed a lot of harmony will know this. My teacher once went on a rant about how a lot of his students bring in transcriptions for him to check and they will be Holdsworth or Metheny tunes...guys who write some pretty complicated music. And he'll take a look at it, throw on a Neil Young song and after the first chord stop the recording and say "Was that Major or Minor?" the studen will say "Minor" and he'll respond "No, it's Major...maybe we should take a step back and try to get the Neil Young down first." Now I'm not saying you are like that in any way, but it pays to spend a lot of time on the basics and get them to the point where you can't get them wrong. If you are finding Holdsworth too hard try some piano music or string quartets, infinately easier to hear individual notes.

06-24-2006, 10:22 PM
Hello guys! Thanks for the advice! You have some good ideas going!

"Silent-storm", you may be right. And none offense taken, of course. I am not at all that experienced in transcribing jazz harmony. But I want to learn, so I figured I might start with the music I love, for motivation purposes, so to speak. That's why I thought about Holdsworth. hehe... But maybe I should try other stuff as well. Just gonna have to figure out where to find some appropriate pieces to start with.