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Transcribing


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Main Entry: tran·scribe

Pronunciation: tran(t)-'skrIb

Function: transitive verb

Inflected Form(s): tran·scribed; tran·scrib·ing

Etymology: Latin transcribere, from trans- + scribere to write -- more at SCRIBE

1 a : to make a written copy of b : to make a copy of (dictated or recorded matter) in longhand or on a machine (as a typewriter) c : to paraphrase or summarize in writing d : WRITE DOWN, RECORD

2 a : to represent (speech sounds) by means of phonetic symbols b : TRANSLATE 2a c : to transfer (data) from one recording form to another d : to record (as on magnetic tape) for later broadcast

3 : to make a musical transcription of

 

This comes up instantly when I want to enter the realms of the Jazz world.

 

"Start transcribing"

 

Can you let me know your experieince with transcribing.

 

 

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I do it the easy way. I get tablature. For instance, I love John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," which of course is a saxophone song. But I got the tablature where every note is transcribed for guitar.

 

But people who can actually transcribe something like that by themselves are really talented.

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I haven't done full on transcribing in a while, but here's my technique:

 

Start by counting bars, and mapping the form. You are now halfway there, and just have to fill in the blanks

 

Work from the bottom up. Get the basic drums sorted out, and you will see any meter changes or other oddities, and further define the form.

 

Get the bass line worked out and you will have the root motion of the chords for the most part.

 

Get the chord qualities, cueing off the bass notes you know. Look out for hybrid and inverted chords, or special techniques like pedal tones and line cliches in the bass.

 

Now go to the melodies, nailing the rythm of the lines first, then grabbing the tones. If you see a note on your transcription that screams "WRONG!!" in the context of the chord, it probably is wrong - listen again.

 

If you want to make your head hurt, transcribe the solos.

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Bass parts can be a beeotch on older recordings. So much of the pitch is masked, and bass players sometimes use ghost notes, and older recording was bass-unfriendly, and bass rig technology was way behind guitar technology. And.

 

Nowdays one can get help from a Tascam Bass or Guitar Trainer or computer program, slowing the stuff down without affecting pitch. But it still helps to work as billster describes.

 

PS. TAB sux. Do it with real transcription if you want to learn more about MUSIC. Tab shows a very limited range of things, is only instrument specific, doesn't easily help one communicate with players of other instruments, and probably 90% of the tab on the w-w-w-w-web is braindead and PLAIN WRONG, transcribed by deaf people with little instrumental experience.

 

Tab CAN be expanded to show rhythm and dynamics and other nuances (as we sometimes see in mag or expert books), but still suffers in comparison to the more developed notation system that composers and scorers have been using for ages.

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Originally posted by billster:

I haven't done full on transcribing in a while, but here's my technique:

 

Start by counting bars, and mapping the form. You are now halfway there, and just have to fill in the blanks

 

Work from the bottom up. Get the basic drums sorted out, and you will see any meter changes or other oddities, and further define the form.

 

Get the bass line worked out and you will have the root motion of the chords for the most part.

 

Get the chord qualities, cueing off the bass notes you know. Look out for hybrid and inverted chords, or special techniques like pedal tones and line cliches in the bass.

 

Now go to the melodies, nailing the rythm of the lines first, then grabbing the tones. If you see a note on your transcription that screams "WRONG!!" in the context of the chord, it probably is wrong - listen again.

 

If you want to make your head hurt, transcribe the solos.

Great Post! :thu:

Billster, can you suggest songs/recordings that you think it would be a good exercise to transcribe?

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i don't know, my experiences (albeit limited) haven't been so bad. Last year I transcribed "little wing" from sheet music (i made an arrangement of the song for drums, bass, piano, trumpet, and tenor sax for a music theory project) using finale notepad. i did the intro on piano, it sounded really cool. it was a fun exercise and neat to listen to when done. my only regret is that i procrastinated some and didn't have the time to finish it completely so i left out parts of the song like the solo (i know, i know blasphemy but i did have to turn it in on time) and a few others.
Then you'll never hear surf music again...
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Billster, can you suggest songs/recordings that you think it would be a good exercise to transcribe?
I'm not Billster but I can tell you this. Start with stuff you can relate to and doesn't seem TOO far beyond your grasp. And then move on to other things you want to know. It's a TOOL for YOU, to learn about the music that interests you, or about music you suspect has secrets that will be revealed.

 

There are no rules or "bests" when it comes to this kinda stuff.

.
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Originally posted by hariseldon:

Great Post! :thu:

Billster, can you suggest songs/recordings that you think it would be a good exercise to transcribe?

Thanks!

 

Like Greenboy said, pick something you can relate to that doesn't seem intimidating.

 

Good meat & potatoes rock songs have straight ahead forms, and can go pretty well. Try "I can't explain" by the Who.

 

Sauce: building out from a lead sheet is arranging not transcribing. But at that, arranging is a very worthwhile exercise and pursuit. More on that tomorrow, time to go root Red Sox! :thu:

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Originally posted by billster:

Sauce: building out from a lead sheet is arranging not transcribing. But at that, arranging is a very worthwhile exercise and pursuit. More on that tomorrow, time to go root Red Sox! :thu:

no i know about arranging (and that was what i was doing) but isn't rewriting a part originally written for one instrument for a different instrument transcribing also? or just because it was done off of sheet music is it not transcribing?
Then you'll never hear surf music again...
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Compact,

 

It isn't that big of a deal. Start simple... See Jane run, see Spot jump. See dad get downsized. Before you know it you're at a typewriter with a thousand other monkeys trying to do "The Bard" ; }

.
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I heard a story once about Steve Vai as a Berklee undergrad. According to the story, he wore out the reel to reel tapes of Frank Zappa's albums at the Berklee library while transcribing the stuff.

I used to do a lot of stuff on the reel-to-reel. Half speeded down Charlie Parker solos and stuff and worked it out.

There's a bunch of new techy stuff out there to help you transcribe, but the bottom line is to find a piece you really want to figure out and start grindin'it out.

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Originally posted by AgentCooper:

Billster, can you suggest songs/recordings that you think it would be a good exercise to transcribe?
It's a TOOL for YOU, to learn about the music that interests you, or about music you suspect has secrets that will be revealed.

 

There are no rules or "bests" when it comes to this kinda stuff.

hey nice thread.

 

I found a really nice one to transcribe is Moonlight sonata by beethoven. I got it (plyed on piano) and transcribed it for guitar a while ago, and found it soooo satisfying.

 

The first few bars are really easy, and nice to play, and because of that it inspires you to continue with the rest, and i never got bored doing it. Nearly every bar is different from the last. And its clean and audible. And once you've done it, clean your sound, whack up the reverb and immerse yourself into this guy's genious.

 

I suggest everyone to give this a try!

 

Everything i know i learned by ear, tis the only way to go!

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Sauce (and anyone else interested), back to transcribing vs. arranging.

 

Transcribing is generally thought of as listening to the music and transferring it to notation. Arranging is taking known music and parting it out for a particular performance setting.

 

Some interesting arrangements of which I am aware:

 

Frank Zappa, the Best Band you Never Heard in your life (live album from his last tour) - Stairway to Heaven with the guitar solo arranged for a horn section. I assume someone transcribed the solo from the original Zeppelin recording, and then wrote parts for four horns. AWESOME.

 

Pat Metheny, One Quiet Night - his new album is strictly solo acoustic guitar, and has a setting of Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why". I'll beleive he transcribed the chords and melody (or bought the "official" book at Guitar Center :freak: ) and then set about making a solo guitar performance.

 

If you play in a band with one guitar and no keyboards, and play anything originally done by a two guitar band or something originally done with keys, you are arranging, even if you don't commit it to paper.

 

I love it. I've even done multiple arrangements (big group, trio, solo) of my own compositions.

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Originally posted by billster:

Sauce (and anyone else interested), back to transcribing vs. arranging.

 

Transcribing is generally thought of as listening to the music and transferring it to notation. Arranging is taking known music and parting it out for a particular performance setting.

ahh thanks for clearing that up. :thu:
Then you'll never hear surf music again...
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