Transposing Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” Using New Ears

A question just came in from a user of New Ears Resolution as to how he could use movable DO to transpose Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation.”  (His letter is posted below.)

I’m looking right now at page 1 of the Eb Charlie Parker Omnibook .  The entire transcribed solo by Bird covers 3 pages of dense notation, and i would not suggest trying to play the entire solo in all 12 keys!

Let’s start with the first phrase:


The first thing to notice is that, although The Omnibook does not give you the key signature, this phrase is in 2 sharps (D major).  If a key signature is not shown, it takes some detective work to figure out the key.   In this case, the 2 sharps in the melody give you a clue, as do the chords;   a I chord in D major and a ii-V-i progression in B minor, the related minor of D major.  (The D# in the melody is merely a chromatic passing tone, and the A# is the 7th degree of the melodic minor scale.)    This preliminary examination may seem overly fastidious.  However, you cannot play a melody like this by ear unless you understand what Bird is doing.  And you cannot understand this composition without understanding these basic aspects of tonal center.

Now notice that i have supplied a syllable for each note.   Create or download a sheet showing the 12 major scales and write the syllables – D, R, M, F, S, L, T, D – beneath the notes.  Now you can play the first phrase of “Confirmation” in any key.

I recommend starting with just the first 5 notes to make this a less daunting task.  Here they are in all 12 keys, traversing the Circle of Fifths:

I am new in this concept of “movable do.”  I play saxophone and transpose licks, patterns, phrases, arpeggios, etc.  It takes a lot of time and calculation using numbers to go through all twelve keys.
How can i use the “movable do” concept to transpose easily and quickly what i need to transpose in all twelve keys?  If i want to transpose some Headline like “Confirmation ” (by Charlie Parker), is “do movable ” the solution?  How do you do that?
Thank you very much!

5 thoughts on “Transposing Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” Using New Ears

  1. I have been teaching some gifted kids improv. I use segments of tunes from Itunes. I start singing the solo. For example, the Coltrane short solo from Miles Davis’ recording of “Blue in Green.” I figure out the chords and slow the recording down (if needed) using transcriber. if using transcriber, I download the song from Youtube and change it into an MP3. Some students who are computer savvy learn to plug the solo measure by measure into the chord changes. Nothing needs to be written down. Students learn how these great improvisers negotiate the chord changes. I am coming from a teacher of students who are gifted

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. When my daughter was born, I quickly grew tired of the usual lullabies so instead I would sing Charlie Parker heads to her in solfege. It was great practice for me and she liked them!


      1. She did! When she was around 2 years old if you would ask her what kind of music Bird played, she would smile and shout, “Bebop!”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s