How do you transcibe music?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by Mvotre, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. Mvotre

    Mvotre SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    43
    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Location:
    SP, Brazil
    sorry for the noob sounding question, but I'm asking for some ideas on approaches and general guidelines.

    So I want to transcribe some music. Right now I believe that I can work in 3 ways:

    1 - try to get everything perfect, and just keep on the same note/lick until everything sounds correct. I'm trying to leave that way, since it can be frustrating.

    2 - try to get everything "far enough". Lots of correct notes, some dubious ones. Later, one can always return and fix those wrong notes.

    3 - make a grid (for lack of a better word), with all the sections, and transcribe just the main ideas and then work on the details.

    2 and 3 seens similar, just with a slightly different way to achieve the same results. Wich one you guys do, and why?


    Finally, a question that intrigues me. Should I really strive for a exact cover, note for note, and then just work to play that really nice, at tempo and cleanly as hell, and finally made a recording of it?

    OR, should it be nicer to try to get the right notes (ear training and some new ideas), but then work on my own personal version of the music, with some frills and solos that sounds better to me (personal preference of course)? The latter rings right with me. Learn the original notes, analyse what's happening and try my own ideas over it, making a personal version of said music.

    Watching lots of covers on youtube, seens that the options is always to play the exact same note (expect in jazz versions). Nobody try to make some changes to original tunes, or I'm bad at search? I believe some YT haters would flame on the player for "messing with a good song", but those trolls would find something to blame anyway :lol:

    anyway, enough rambling. Just want to hear some opinions on transcribing and stuff like that :cool:

    also, sorry for the long post and possibly some english mistakes. Not a native speaker :rant:
     
  2. redstone

    redstone SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,483
    Likes Received:
    74
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    Location:
    France
    Lately I only tab violin, piano, harp scores .. First I get all the notes, I might check the actual score when the violinists are out of pitch, then adapt some parts that couldn't be played as is, find the healthiest way to fret it and finally, I try to find my own interpretation.
     
    Mvotre likes this.
  3. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

    Messages:
    5,089
    Likes Received:
    914
    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I open up a new Finale document, put a staff in for each instrument, listen through the song and enter all of the measure and metrical information. I put double bars at the end of each section and adjust the number of measures per system to make phrasic sense. At this point, I know how many measures are in the piece, how many measures are in each section, and what the meter is at any given point. All that's left is to enter the notes, rhythms, articulations and finally tempi, performance indications, phrase markings, and dynamics. I generally go one instrument at a time for the duration of a section. The majority of work in score prep is in data entry. After that, I clean it up and make it look nice, add rehearsal markings and system dividers, adjust beam angles, correct all collisions, and make parts.
     
  4. mr_rainmaker

    mr_rainmaker Resident Cherokee

    Messages:
    3,086
    Likes Received:
    385
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2010
    Location:
    NE Oklahoma
    I transcribe sections at a time,working on them off and on till I feel its right,really no way to get it "right" without having the original artist check your work over.
    My main tool is the tascam gb10 but I`m old school,back in the day we used to put our finger on the tape wheel...

    now I`m kinda different,I can`t watch all the dozens and dozens of players playing the EXACT song like the artist would play,if I wanted to watch the song,I`d watch the original artist do it,but haters are gonna hate no matter if you play a cover EXACTLY like the original recording some Ahole is gonna have to try to bring ya down,but I`m in the minority...
    I like to see a cover with your own twist to it,the best way you can play it,and not like some mindless fanboy.
     
    Mvotre likes this.
  5. Mvotre

    Mvotre SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    43
    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Location:
    SP, Brazil
    hey, nice to see i'm not alone :lol:

    I think the same way. For a perfect, note for note version, I would listen to the original. :agreed:
     
  6. wankerness

    wankerness SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    6,336
    Likes Received:
    1,375
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Location:
    WI
    I used to transcribe a TON of songs that were very long (like, lots of 10 minute Opeth songs). I did it all 3 different ways you listed depending on my mood at the time and depending on the song. Generally I'd go through linearly and do everything in order, but I'd often leave rests in measures that sounded like they'd be a pain, or only transcribe the rhythm guitar during solos, cause if I had the entire song sketched out it gave me the motivation to go back and finish the parts that sounded like they'd be a pain in the ass. If I tried too hard to get everything perfect while going through on the first pass I was more likely to lose motivation if I hit something that was difficult to hear or transcribe. With easier or shorter songs, though, I'd usually just make sure everything was perfect as I went along.

    There were several things I'd do after finishing the "first draft" of the tab, which were look around for live recordings (videos could help with positioning, simple audio ones would often have radically different sound quality and thus you could often hear different things than you'd hear on the studio version and sometimes it helped clear things up, especially when it came to picking out bass tracks on muddily produced albums), go back to "trouble spots," and just play through the thing repeatedly to make sure it all "made sense."

    If you're transcribing to transcribe I'd say you should get things as exact as possible, it will help with your ear a lot more than half-assing it and then saying you're doing your interpretation or whatever. If you're transcribing to just learn to roughly play in the style then whatever.
     
  7. TallestFiddle

    TallestFiddle SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    434
    Likes Received:
    15
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Location:
    Taunton, MA
    Personally I think it is a little tedious to cover an entire song note for note. I think that learning other people's music is helpful for your playing technique. And I think that studying other people's music is helpful for your songwriting technique. I think that you can gain a lot from a lot of different songs by paying attention to parts that you like, and parts you don't like.

    This is just my opinion, and I've never done a cover or even learned to play an entire song. I learn parts of songs that I like so that I can gain some similar techniques to use in my own music. Recording yourself playing what you've learned is very helpful so that you can see if you're playing it cleanly, and if it sounds good. Even if you don't post the recording anywhere, its a useful tool to improve.

    I think that if you're proficient at it, transcribing a song by ear would be very helpful to you. I'm not proficient at it, so I don't do it. With songs I like, I try to sing along or tap along to the drums so I can train my ear to recognize everything that is going on. I think that in the future if I have more time to spend on music I will definitely be transcribing more, but it does take a lot of time. Transcribing others' music will help you when you go to transcribe your own.

    It all depends on what you want to do. If you just want to cover songs, then do your best to learn the full song and try to record it as it is. But if you want to write your own music, then covering songs note for note will not be a good use of your time.
     
  8. Enselmis

    Enselmis SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,189
    Likes Received:
    42
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    I disagree. I think the point of transcribing isn't to post a video or show people you can play it. The point of transcribing is to understand exactly what the phrase or piece you're working on is. Being able to hear sounds you like and recognize what they correspond to on your instrument. Based on that, it seems like getting every single note is the most beneficial approach.
     
  9. wankerness

    wankerness SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    6,336
    Likes Received:
    1,375
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Location:
    WI
    When dealing with weird or technical material learning every note is pretty important to understanding style. To use the Opeth example again, part of the thing that I was only discovering through really close listening was just how weird some of the chord shapes they were using were. On things like April Ethereal and When, they were using some really odd chord shapes that I'd never seen anyone else use, and in many other tabs I'd seen of the same songs people had just written them down as fairly common guitar chords that sounded similar. You're not really learning anything about an artist's style or gaining any new songwriting vocabulary if you're just simplifying whatever you transcribe into whatever knowledge YOU have.
     
  10. Mvotre

    Mvotre SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    43
    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Location:
    SP, Brazil
    well, I believe I expressed myself badly.

    I WILL transcribe all the notes exactly. Will use to study the correlation beetween solo and chords, and why it sounds nice. Just the part to learn to play at tempo and perfect in one shot that I don't care.

    I'm working on some songs, and the plan is to transcribe note for note, use it to study and THEN make my version with some things mine. Believe it would be the best of both worlds :agreed:
     

Share This Page