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Old 10-11-2013, 06:03 AM   #1
Soren Arkwright
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Transcription (method/process question)

Hi all,

I've recently developed somewhat of an obsession with transcribing songs.

Is there any reason the following method would hinder the development of my musical ear? My process is as follows:

- Listen to song 20 times to internalize it.
- Play a vague "approximation" from memory.
- Come back the next day (or a few hours) and patch up any holes/mistakes.
- Repeat until perfect.

What are your thoughts on the validity of this process? When I started initially, I would painstakingly work out tiny (10 second-long) phrases in a sequential manner. The results were great, but the process was just...painful and frustrating, and felt somewhat unnatural - hence the "development" of the above described method.

Basically, the only reason I'm transcribing is for the purposes of ear training. Is there any reason the particular way I transcribe could hinder my progress, in comparison to other (maybe more logical processes)?

...Maybe I'm just being pedantic. :P
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Old 10-11-2013, 06:12 AM   #2
mdc
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Yeah you're being pedantic. Don't put a number on how many times to listen to a song. Just listen. And listen the bass, that's where you'll pick up the root notes of the chords.

Bear in mind if the bassist is at least half decent then root notes won't always be played. So get used to recognising your major and minor triad sounds in all inversions.

Your idea of listening until you have it internalised is spot on, though. You should always do this.

Sometimes I will listen to a song each time for a separate instrument. Drums for rhythmic ideas, for example.

Last edited by mdc : 10-11-2013 at 06:14 AM.
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:53 AM   #3
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I listen to the chords and then I attach the melody on the top of it.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:01 PM   #4
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Transcribe anything as much as you can do ear training.

Basically you can't do enough of that stuff, and it truly means doing more yields better results.

Once you can figure out basic songs fast, it's time to step up to more odd songs.


Find songs which have odd things in them, or rather something that that ventures out of just the scale/key tones.

A paradox maybe, because to find these songs you need to be able to hear these differences

I will give some examples of what I mean:

Radiohead - Creep

Last chord in the progression of goes from a major chord to a minor chord on the same root.

John Mayer - Who says

at intro/chorus when the lyrics go "..and the telephone" there's a chromatic bass going up creating a Dimnished chord (if I recall correctly) learn to hear that.

Check out some Elton John's piano stuff. You might not like it, but he has quite some songs with "Typical" inversion. The chords are the same(debatable), but with the inversion it creates these typical sounds reminiscent of inversions done well.

Basically you have voicings just for embellishments, where inversions are intended originally to actually help the harmony and the movement of the voices.

Just a few of the odd ones out there.

After that jazz or classical, which are quite harder.

Jazz harmonies difficulty lay in recognizing the difference between diminished, augmented and alterations like #9/b9's. They are for the inexperienced listener all considered in the same dissonant ball park, but as your ear develop they can becomes as clearly different as major and minor.

Classical music is harder, probably because of the sheer virtuosity of some piano pieces, and in orchestra the different timbres, and splitting the chords in single voices over these different instruments (timbre's) take some time to recognize.

Also the inversions I talked about earlier..in (good) classical music there are shit loads of voicings happening of chords to help the flow and separation of the voices. Actually with classical these voicing exist of working the other way around (connecting voices to each where the harmony establishes itself through the single notes voicings)..

..but that's for another lesson

Hope it helps

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx : 10-11-2013 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:52 PM   #5
mdc
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Try transcribing r u crazy by Connor Maynard. I'm serious! Especially the bridge. It has a ii - V in there. The V is a dominant 13. Very nice actually the bridge.

Not a typical guitar song to transcribe. I had to do this for an acoustic version with a vocalist as a duo.
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Old 10-11-2013, 02:14 PM   #6
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Do any of you tab it out when learning or is it better just to remember it? I did that starting out, but I find (I think) my memory for holding tones gets better if I work at it more. It's a more tedious but I assume it will better serve you in the long run.
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Old 10-12-2013, 03:23 AM   #7
Soren Arkwright
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Thanks for the help all! Will take some the suggestions on board...Creep by Radiohead is definitely a good idea - might make it my next transcription. Currently working on a piano intro to a song called "Killing Me Killing You" by Sentenced (to be played on guitar)...surprisingly, it seems playable, though my fingers now hurt like hell with all stretching involved.

In terms of theory? I know next to nothing, but it hasn't really hindered my progress surprisingly. Usually if I try to figure out a difficult chord I'll sort of "piece it together" by sticking the more prominent notes together and tinkering around/extending it until it sounds like the exact chord on the recording (this is usually followed by a eureka! moment where I realize "hey, I remember this shape actually...it's some Major 9th voicing I learnt 10 years ago"...sometimes I'll try and confirm it via a nice chord book I have.

...it's actually amazing how all this theory I used to know (but have long abandoned) suddenly makes logical sense after a few transcriptions!
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Old 10-12-2013, 03:49 AM   #8
Soren Arkwright
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Actually...while we're at it:

Can anybody here recommend some simple, beautiful piano songs that actually sound playable on guitar? They seem to be few and far between, but I think I can learn a tonne about good melody etc. if I could just track down some sort of simple, "haunting" ambient pieces
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Old 10-12-2013, 04:22 AM   #9
mdc
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Pyramid song radiohead
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Old 10-12-2013, 05:21 AM   #10
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Sorry to hijack the thread, but I've been meaning to ask something similar. A few months ago I started transcribing a Vinnie Moore piece using Transcribe and inputting everything I can pick out into Guitar Pro. Sometimes, I sync Guitar Pro and Transcribe and layer the sounds of both applications to make sure I can get the exact note and rhythm transcribed.

It doesn't really feel orthodox and it feels kind of like cheating and that the only thing I'm doing is getting a tab of the song and not actually developing my ears.
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Old 10-12-2013, 05:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triface
Sorry to hijack the thread, but I've been meaning to ask something similar. A few months ago I started transcribing a Vinnie Moore piece using Transcribe and inputting everything I can pick out into Guitar Pro. Sometimes, I sync Guitar Pro and Transcribe and layer the sounds of both applications to make sure I can get the exact note and rhythm transcribed.

It doesn't really feel orthodox and it feels kind of like cheating and that the only thing I'm doing is getting a tab of the song and not actually developing my ears.

Well, you are still figuring the notes out by yourself and not downloading tabs and relying 100% on them. You are using your ears because you figure out the notes by yourself.
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Old 10-12-2013, 07:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triface
Sorry to hijack the thread, but I've been meaning to ask something similar. A few months ago I started transcribing a Vinnie Moore piece using Transcribe and inputting everything I can pick out into Guitar Pro. Sometimes, I sync Guitar Pro and Transcribe and layer the sounds of both applications to make sure I can get the exact note and rhythm transcribed.

It doesn't really feel orthodox and it feels kind of like cheating and that the only thing I'm doing is getting a tab of the song and not actually developing my ears.


I wouldn't call that "cheating" at all. I do similar stuff, except i do not write it down. I use amazing slow downer or Anytune to slow down tunes and loop sections and then pick them out by ear, but if it's for a gig i will write it down in GP aswell.

The important thing to think about though when doing this is transcribing might not be your complete method for developing your ears.

For example, when i practice scales or arpeggios i do it in 4 steps, 3 of which relies on my ear.

This is what i do, i set a loop on a chord (lets say i loop a Cmaj7 and practice the C major scale over it, just to be basic), then i go through these 4 steps.

1) Just play the scale at a comfortable tempo. Up and down, in groups of 3/4/5/6, in intervals etc

2) Do the same thing, but slow down to a tempo where i can sing everything i do aswell. So i play and sing at the same time.

3) I "ghost" the notes, (Putting my fingers on the frets where the notes are, but not playing them) and sing them.

4) Just play the chord and sing the scale/arpeggio.

I do this for all scales and arpeggios i practice.

Another thing that helps developing your ear is putting a loop of a chord or chord progression, then singing a line (or imagining it in your head) and then trying to play it on the guitar. It's a great way to both improve your connection between what you hear and what you play on the guitar, as well as improving creativity over time.

Hope that was to any help for you.
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