Hello all,

Just a quick question. Been doing some transcribing lately (complete beginner, but have figured 4 solos so far).

My question is regarding transcribing the chord changes themselves, which I gather is really important:

Is it advisable to keep "plugging away" at the solos and get more under my belt before I try to transcribe harmonies? Or am I wasting my time focusing solely on the solos without the chords? At the moment, figuring out the underlying chords/progressions seems an absolute impossibility for me....I'm not even sure where to begin, considering my chord vocabulary is very limited in the first place, so there's not even a reference point (I literally know almost nothing regarding music theory, it's always confused the crap out of me...god knows I've tried to learn it).

So, what would be a good approach in my case? I'm really keen to start figuring out chord voicings but it seems like one hell of a task to "construct" them using purely my ear without any existing knowledge of the shapes/inversions etc. Maybe this is not even possible?

I have somewhat of a pseudo-science theory that if I transcribe enough solos I'll be able to recognize intervals separately and then maybe hearing them in unison will be easier?
yeah you need to do both. The solos are based entirely on the chords, so they're kinda useless without knowing the harmony.

90% of the time, the chord root is the same as the bass note. Follow the bass line, and that'll get you most of the chords.

You'll probably have a very difficult time with this if you don't already know your basic chords/scales and how to play them. Get plugging on both, you'll get better at it.
Well, yes and no.

Just keeping learning solos will undoubtedly still improve your ear, but transcribing is much like playing. If you practice a lot of metal guitar and become a very technical metal player, you may still have problems playing country or jazz or blues because they use different techniques and characteristics.

The same goes for transcription. If you transcribe a lot of metal you will improve more rapidly at learning metal by ear, but your overall ear will slowly become better aswell. Same with solos vs harmony, if you learn solos your ear while improve at solos more rapidly, and solos and harmony overall a little bit.

So yes, you could keep learning solos and eventually you will have an easier time with harmony. But no in the sense that if you were to focus on harmony solely on itself you would get greater results. My recommendation is to continue transcribing solos, but add time and start transcribing harmony at the same time, and make sure you start simple with pop songs.

I hope that was helpful, cheers.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”

Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Last edited by Sickz at Feb 3, 2014,
Learn the interval of the Cmaj scale.
There's a 1/2 step between the 3,4 (E,F).....7,8 (B,C)

Then just memorize I, IV, V are maj. II, III, VI are minor. VII is dim

Chords are just every other note. C,E,G,B or D, F, A, C..ect

There's 2 whole step to the 3rd. From the C note to the E note.
There's 1 1/2 step to the -3rd. From D to F

If you already know how to make a power chord. Root , 5 , octive.
Then it's simply just counting frets. Each fret =1/2 step

Obviously the -3 is one fret down from the 3
The -7 is two frets down from the octive.

so you start with 1,5...then you add the 3 into 1,3,5
Then extend it to 1,3,5,7.... add 9, 11,13

Sometimes it'll just tell you to color it with a 6
Just play 1,3,5,6

other times it'll tell you to play 1,3,5,-7

All minor chord have -3. As I already explain the 1 1/2 step resulting in a min3rd
1,-3,5......extend it would be 1,-3,5,-7 add accordingly.

Sus chord = omit the 3rd or -3rd.
It's generally going to tell you to add the 2 or 4. Which is the same as the 9,11

Diminish means less than. Augmented means add.
It tells you make the 5th flat or sharp.

1,-3,-5......extended 1,-3,-5,-7 add -9...ect

1,3, +5......extended 1,3,+5,7...ect
Last edited by smc818 at Feb 3, 2014,
Thanks for the advise guys. Sorry, I should've specified that the music I was working on is Jazz (Miles Davis and Grant Green so far).

But I guess you're right, the solos aren't much without the chords (even though they do serve some ear training purpose, I guess).

I've started stealing some chords/voicings from Smiths songs, so I guess I'll work my way up to more harmonically-complex stuff and revisit the Jazz songs I've (partially) worked out when the time is right!
If you're playing jazz you definitely need to work with harmony. Both transcribing and playing through charts, working out voice leading lines, chord melodies, etc.
Transcribing chords can be difficult. Three things that made it much easier.

1) study your arpeggios. If you don't know the difference between a major or minor arpeggio, then you probably wont' get far with figuring out a progression.
2) follow the bass guitar. As another user posted, the bass gives you the clues you need to find the chord
3) Use Transcribe! software and learn to emphasize the bass with the EQ so it sticks out. Raising the track by one octave can also make it much easier to hear the bass line.
Well...when you go into the minor keys. Most people are going assume
you already know some basic music theory or heard of the relative minor at the very least.

The count starts from the 6 or VI chord. In other words put the VI in the One position

So when people say play I, IV, V in a minor key. its the 6, 2, and 3 chords from the maj scale.

I was fortunate to have a father that's professional musician, singer guitar play.
He kind da grilled some these ideas into my head from early on in life.
But it's years of being aound it, for it to retain.
The man could pick out chord progression or inversion from thin air.

He always gave me a hard time for playing Hotel California wrong.
I was playing it according to theory...but the man said, cant you hear the damn
chord is a maj not a minor in certain places.lmao

i just wanted to hook everything into the fuzz box
Last edited by smc818 at Feb 4, 2014,