Hey guys, thanks for all the feedback on my transcription post. Here’s my response to the points brought up in the comments.
I think you all understood my main point: transcribing is only a bad deal because it tends to make us think that the notes on the page are the main thing we need to understand in order to play like the pros. It seems like all of you are on board with me there, so if we can keep in mind that there is more to learning this instrument than simply writing down what others have played, then everything will be fine.
In other words, I agree with all of the comments regarding the helpful aspects of transcription – as long as one constantly keeps in mind that music is about FEELING and EMOTIONAL IMPACT. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. The essence, the bedrock foundation of music is that it moves people. Music has a tangible and physical impact on listeners, and the experience is profoundly emotional at the same time. The intellectual aspect of music (the part where you analyze and map out what someone is playing) really has nothing to do with music itself. It is merely a way to understand the physical and emotional experience that music brings. Now, of course understanding what you’re experiencing can be helpful in many ways, but I don’t think it changes the experience itself. That’s why critics, professionals, and “music civilians” alike will all respond similarly to a powerful piece of music.
This is obviously all just a theory of mine, based on observations… and I haven’t completely thought it through yet. But it’s really helping me to remember the reason why I do what I do. At the end of the day, when all the exercises/listening/evaluation/analysis/criticism is said and done, I really just want music to MOVE me, and moving others is what I want the music I make to accomplish.
So again, this is where I part ways with the transcription junkies. I almost never find the experience of music to be enhanced by writing out what I’ve heard. Sometimes transcription will help me replicate what I’ve heard, but most of the time it just takes my mind off the real issue by forcing me to focus on the “what just happened” question instead of the “how did that make me feel” question. That might sound overly artsy, but it’s the best explanation I can come up with for what I’ve been learning lately.