Book Reviews
Drummer Cafe 20th Anniversary
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Steve Gadd - TranscriptionsThe Steve Gadd - Transcriptions book honors the talents of one of the greatest drummers in the entire world: the amazing Steve Gadd. The book includes thirty stylistically varying drumming transcriptions. It is a note for note, very accurate interpretation of Steve Gadd's style of playing the drums. In some cases there are only fragments that present the most interesting parts of the given song. The music is clearly notated and easy to read. Attractive quotations, biography, an extensive discography and videography are an extra bonus in this book.

REVIEW

As someone who does a lot of transcriptions, I can really appreciate all of the time, effort and energy Krzysztof Filipski put into this book. Congratulations!

The first thing that I noticed about that book is that it is spiral bound. Why more publishers don't do this with method books I'll never understand; perhaps it's the cost. When a book is created to be read by the student, while at the instrument, it needs to to have spiral binding. This simple addition makes it so much easier to place and maneuver on the music stand, as well as turning pages. The Steve Gadd - Transcriptions, with its spiral binding, IS designed for the music stand; smart. Also the notation is large, only three full measures per stave, so you won't have any issue reading the transcriptions even if the book is an arms length away.

The 105 page book is divided into six sections: The Biography, Drum Key, Transcriptions #1-30, Selected Discography (list), Selected Videography (list), and Selected Articles (list). There's a preface to The Biography which includes some nice quotes, about Steve Gadd, from various individuals in the music industry.

The back cover says that the book is "a note for note, incredibly accurate interpretation of Steve Gadd's style of playing the drums", although there's a note just inside the book which states as follows: "The transcriptions in this book represent the drumming of Steve Gadd as interpreted by Krzysztof Filipski. It may not be exactly what Steve played."  Interesting. Some may feel that these two quotes are in conflict; a contradiction of each other. To help resolve this potential concern, I took the time to check several of the book's transcriptions against the original recorded performance.

As someone who does a lot of transcriptions, let me say that I am extremely picky, both in my own transcriptions and in the transcriptions of others. All you have to do is speak with one of our Drummer Cafe contributors and ask them how many revisions and edits they've had to make before I would sign-off on their transcription(s), thus allowing it to appear here at the Drummer Cafe. A transcription is either accurate (note for note), or its a close approximation (an interpretation); it can't be both. That's not to say that a "note-for-note" transcription won't miss something, or that a performance can't accurately be transcribed using standard music notation. However, with Steve Gadd - Transcriptions, the question is ... is it note for note, or an interpretation?

I took the time to listen to the related recordings of four of the transcriptions found in this book: "Everything You Do" and "Honky Tonk / I Can't Stop Loving You" (Steve Gadd - The Gadd Gang), "Caribbean Nights" (Bob James - Touchdown), and "Roof Garden" (Al Jarreau - Breakin' Away). Of these four, all of the notations were about 98% accurate (to my ears). There were a few things that I heard but didn't see notated, and some things I didn't hear but saw a notation for. Other things missing in the notation were double-bar-lines, which are used to signify and separate sections in the music (eg. verse to chorus), and number cues for the measure repeats, which aid the musician in keeping track of all the continuously repeated measures.

All thirty of the transcriptions are labeled numerically, rather than being referenced by the recording that the transcription was transcribed from. The only connection with the transcription's source is in fine print at the bottom of the first page of each transcription. There is no cross-reference, so if you want to look for a transcription from a specific source, you have to look for it, page by page, reading the small print.

Another item missing from the Steve Gadd - Transcriptions is any reference to where in the audio/video recording the performance transcriptions take place. It would be extremely beneficial to the user of this book to be able to reference the original recording. While some of the transcriptions cover the entire song, start to finish, many are just fragments from various sections of the performance. Reading the transcription while listening to the original source is a great educational process. With no reference time or measure numbers associated with notation, many of those for whom this book was designed for will find it difficult (if not impossible) to resolve on their own.

Written with the beginner/intermediate player in mind, the Steve Gadd - Transcriptions is a decent educational resource, despite its short-comings in the area of book's organization, descriptive labels and notation engraving. Perhaps with their own research and personal listening, the student, along with the assistance of a instructor/teacher, will be able to figure out all of the cross-references as well as fix any notation errors. With a retail price of $24.99 ... should you really have to do that? You decide.