Transcription Reviews

These are the words of some of the enthralled buyers who have taken a lot of trouble to examine and write words to describe their feelings about all the details that we tried so hard to present:

DA Hubbard on Amazon says:
‘This is a beautiful book. Avoiding the trappings of most generic musical notation books this offers so much more. Clearly, the authors were passionate about reproducing accurate and reflective key compositions by Jansch and this is clear from the first piece of music. However, there is far more to harp on about. The background behind each song, along with the intricacies in his playing at particular bars help to guide you as you pick each alphabetically presented piece. Each song is accorded a rating for ease of playing with one being the easiest and three the most challenging; obviously, if you’re seeking ‘easy’ music you’ve come to the wrong place, but that, after all, is part of the fun. There are also some stunning colourful photographic pages which show you his guitars played throughout his career, most notably his Yamaha collection.
I genuinely look forward to (hopefully) increasing my own repertoire and gaining some understanding of the guitar from such a wonderful source. A must for all acoustic guitar fans.’

Jamie Phillips of New York,
on, a key member of the transcribing team says: As for the transcriptions themselves, well having collaborated on them, I can vouch for their accuracy and authenticity. Most were based on previous transcriptions which other members of the group and I had done previously, and we went over them with a fine toothcomb. Many hours of deep listening went into their perfection, and in this age of YouTube we were able to consult the fingerings of Bert himself by closely observing videos of him playing. The transcriptions in this book are better than anything you will find for free online, including the ones I did myself back in 2003 which are widely available as ASCII files on tab sites. We were able to revisit our old transcriptions, correct many errors and revise fingerings to a much higher level of accuracy, more in keeping with how Bert would have played them himself. Working on these transcriptions made me realize just how powerful the collaborative workflow is – multiple heads most certainly are better than one!’

Another Amazon reviewer
said ‘I’m not going to tell you about Bert Jansch. I have to assume you know about him if you are considering this purchase. Suffice to say as Neil Young is quoted on the opening page: “He is to the acoustic guitar what Hendrix is to the electric.”

So this is complex music and a real challenge for anybody to capture in little tadpoles strung across a page! The transcriptions in this book are the product of excellent work by a group of Bert experts and obsessives – the Bert Transcribed Group. They have done an amazing job herding these tadpoles! I have seen some of Jansch’s compositions previously, especially in a couple of compilations of British or English folk guitar. But I would say that this new book is the definitive word on Bert’s style and tunes.

The book has a nice look and feel to it – much more luxurious than your standard music book. There are eight full-page colour photos of guitars played by Bert. There is some useful preamble on Bert’s technique, including posture before the main event – 24 songs in guitar tablature and standard music notation, together with words. Each song comes with about a page of background and performance notes.

So that is a spread from throughout his solo career plus a couple of duets from the 1966 Bert and John album with John Renbourn. Quite heavy on Rosemary Lane and his first eponymous album. There is nothing from his Pentangle days. I’d have liked to see a bit more from Jack Orion but it’s an impossible task to represent everything in 24 selections. The man recorded a huge number of songs.

I have an image of Jansch as someone who used a lot of open tunings especially DADGAD. Surprisingly though most of these pieces are in standard tuning. There are only a few in Dropped D and DADGAD.

There is a useful discography at the back to complete what is a spectacularly well-thought-out, information-packed and useful publication.

This book has clearly been a labour of love and it contains many hours of challenge and joy for the ambitious guitarist. My only hope is that a further volume might come along in future. Jansch was responsible for an awful lot of fine music.