rohanR21
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2011
327 IQ
#1
So i have been having trouble transcribing songs,i really suck at it..
the two main problems im having is-
1.Transcribing chords ,any type,be it on acoustic or be it on a heavily distorted sound.
2.transcribing riffs based on the low E and A strings ,whatever the tuning of the guitar is.


Please help ,and give all the tips that you can give about transcribing.
Thanks.
lpcustom325
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2008
919 IQ
#2
keep doing it. the only way to get better is to keep doing it and learn from your mistakes.
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TDKshorty
The Swami
Join date: Sep 2006
4,280 IQ
#3
A musician is only as good as his ear.

First off you need to be able to recognize the sound of the chord, whether it's major, mminor, augmented or diminished.

This website has eartraining exercises that are really great
http://www.musictheory.net/

It's really going to feel like trial and error until you start getting the hang of it, but then you'll have it and you'll just hear a song and just know it, by ear.

Also, learning cadences will help you kind of fill in the blanks, so to speak. If you know the sound of I-IV-V or or a IV-I or whatever, you'll hear something and know what it is.

I took a transcribing class and my teacher taught us about learning what key you're in and then finding the root and the 5th and then learning how the melody feels, if it's going up or down, in steps or leaps. So by finding the root and fifth, those notes are very defining and everything else, generally falls into place

If you're not sure what those are, like if you're in C, every C and G note you'll find is a root and fifth


Or it really comes down to just playing and making connections, as long as you can know that this chord is this and what note that is, you got it.

And it's weird, because, some days, I'm really good at ear traning, other's not so much, so I'm still learning, and I think there's always something that's going to challenge your ear, which is a good thing.

EDIT: I recommend learning the Beatles, their chord progressions and their melodies are really great and you'll learn alot of different things, like inversions and harmonic minor and stuff like that
And we will weave in and out of sanity unnoticed
Swirling in blissfully restless visions of all our bleary progress
Glowing in radiant madness
Last edited by TDKshorty at Mar 30, 2013,
macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#4
In truth I have come to believe that there isn't really anything that transcribing can do that you can't learn from singing solfege in both harmonic and melodic contexts. Transcribing is more fun though.
HotspurJr
Registered User
Join date: Jul 2011
191 IQ
#5
Quote by rohanR21
So i have been having trouble transcribing songs,i really suck at it..
the two main problems im having is-
1.Transcribing chords ,any type,be it on acoustic or be it on a heavily distorted sound.
2.transcribing riffs based on the low E and A strings ,whatever the tuning of the guitar is.


Start by transcribing simple melodies, stuff you know by heart already, like twinkle twinkle little star or christmas carols. If you can't do that, you're not ready to worry about chords or complex riffs yet.

I also got a tremendous amount of benefit out of using the functional ear trainer, which is a free download from miles.be.

"Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician" by Shroeder and Wyatt, consists of a series of progressively harder transcribing exercises, although with a lot of good tips. I found it very useful as well.
mdc
UG's Mr Chord Man
Join date: Feb 2008
722 IQ
#6
Quote by rohanR21
So i have been having trouble transcribing songs,i really suck at it..
the two main problems im having is-
1.Transcribing chords ,any type,be it on acoustic or be it on a heavily distorted sound.
2.transcribing riffs based on the low E and A strings ,whatever the tuning of the guitar is.


Please help ,and give all the tips that you can give about transcribing.
Thanks.

You suck. Listening to just metal and rock doesn't help your situation either. I can't make you like blues, jazz and classical either, cuz you're you, and that's that.
rohanR21
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2011
327 IQ
#7
Quote by lpcustom325
keep doing it. the only way to get better is to keep doing it and learn from your mistakes.


i think he might have said it all in a single line.
i like hotspurJr points too a lot ,that is transcribing simple melodies i already know ,as i matter of fact ,i have already finished that phase.

TDKshorty-dude ,all of that info really helped a lot,although i already knew about the site, i had never used it ,now i'll make sure i use it to the full extent.


mdc=You said it dude,i suck. True Story.
TDKshorty
The Swami
Join date: Sep 2006
4,280 IQ
#8
Quote by rohanR21
i think he might have said it all in a single line.
i like hotspurJr points too a lot ,that is transcribing simple melodies i already know ,as i matter of fact ,i have already finished that phase.

TDKshorty-dude ,all of that info really helped a lot,although i already knew about the site, i had never used it ,now i'll make sure i use it to the full extent.


mdc=You said it dude,i suck. True Story.


Just trying to help out.
And we will weave in and out of sanity unnoticed
Swirling in blissfully restless visions of all our bleary progress
Glowing in radiant madness
sweetdude3000
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2012
1,172 IQ
#9
I don't want to stray off topic but Hotspur or others chime in on the usefulness of the ear trainer software you mentioned since this is related to transcribing. Is it a process that takes weeks/months/year to gradually seep in? I started doing it and get around 70% on one key and I just want to see if things get better in time and if it's worth plugging away..
food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#10
Quote by sweetdude3000
I don't want to stray off topic but Hotspur or others chime in on the usefulness of the ear trainer software you mentioned since this is related to transcribing. Is it a process that takes weeks/months/year to gradually seep in? I started doing it and get around 70% on one key and I just want to see if things get better in time and if it's worth plugging away..
By itself it's almost entirely useless. However, as soon as you start to apply those skills (whether it be in transcription or just in casual listening), you really see a lot of benefits.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
bondmorkret
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2012
168 IQ
#11
Try slowing the track down with timestretch. And also do some interval training on low range notes if you're struggling to hear the difference between notes on the low strings
descara
Registered User
Join date: Aug 2008
595 IQ
#12
As far has transcribing chord progressions go, a teacher of mine has a method he teaches students having trouble with even basic transcribing, which covers diatonic progressions in major key really well. Maybe it can be of help.Transcribing with his method goes like this (examples in key of C):

1) Hum or sing the tonic note of the key you're in, while listening to (or playing, for practice) the progression. If you have trouble finding this, you really got a long way to go, but you can always get it from an instrument for the first attempts.

2) Now, take note of which chords your humming sounds consonant with. If the progression you're transcribing is in the key of C, humming the tonic note will sound perfectly fine over C, F and Am. However, over G and Em it'll be pretty grating, and you'll mostly likely instinctively want to go down to the leading note, B.

Over Dm, C might sound relatively okay - if you're unsure, you can try to go up to the 2nd scale degree, the supertonic, D in this case, and see if it sounds better.

Anyway, write down or memorize whether the tonic note, the leading note or the supertonic sounds most consonant - you can use some simple abbrevation like T, L and S if you want.

3) Now, when you've got this down, determine the quality of the chord - wether it is a major or minor chord. If you've got trouble with this, you should probably practing singing triads, if need be playing it first on an instrument and then imitating it. Take note of the quality of all the chords you're transcribing.

4) When you've got these two things down, it's really easy to determine what the chords are. If the tonic note sounds most consonant, it can only be C (I), F (IV) or Am (iv) - using the quality of the chord, you can rule out either C and F if the chord is minor, and then you know it's Am. If it's a major chord, you've got C and F to choose from, the tonic chord and the subdominant chord. Hopefully you'll be able to hear that the tonic is much more resting than the subdominant, which makes it easy to determine which of the two it is.

If the leading note is the most consonant note, you've only two chords to choose from (well, technically three, but the third - the viidim, is uncommon in the rather simple progression this works best for) - G (V) and Em (iii). Using the chord quality, you can easily determine which of the two it is.

If the supertonic is most consonant, or you're unsure if the tonic note or the supertonic is the most consonant, it will most likely be Dm (ii).

To illustrate, here's an example of how to apply this over a chord progression with all the aforementioned chords, using T for tonic, L for leading note, S for supertonic, M and m respectively for major/minor:


T, M   L, M   L, m    T, m
C      G      Em      Am

T, M    S, m   L, M    T, M
F       Dm     G       C


With a little practice, you should be able to learn to internalize this so you don't need to sing/hum or write out the T/L/S, M/m stuff. Also, you'll hopefully gain a more intuitive feel for chord progressions with time.
HotspurJr
Registered User
Join date: Jul 2011
191 IQ
#13
Quote by sweetdude3000
I don't want to stray off topic but Hotspur or others chime in on the usefulness of the ear trainer software you mentioned since this is related to transcribing. Is it a process that takes weeks/months/year to gradually seep in? I started doing it and get around 70% on one key and I just want to see if things get better in time and if it's worth plugging away..


Yes, it takes a long time to gradually seep in.

Ear training is slow. It's the sort of thing you need to work at a little bit at a time, regularly. You can't cram and there aren't any shortcuts.
Aerynn
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2013
36 IQ
#14
Really just keep trying. For the stuff you mentioned, there's some exercises that others have mentioned, but I find the thing that helped me most with transcribing was transcribing. If I couldn't figure something out, I'd step down to something a little easier, and work on that. When I got that down I'd try the harder one again. Usually I was able to work it out after a couple times doing something a little easier. If you think you're above really simple stuff, try something in between.
mdc
UG's Mr Chord Man
Join date: Feb 2008
722 IQ
#16
I bet you've been doing a shit load of transcribing in the meantime haven't you? Lol
ArtistLion
Registered User
Join date: Oct 2012
818 IQ
#17
is there a way to check if your transcription is right? Or are you always dependant on your own ears?
rohanR21
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2011
327 IQ
#18
yeah dude,loads of transcribing,shit gives me headache sometimes.
ha_asgag
Registered User
Join date: May 2007
3,863 IQ
#21
Transcribing chords or exact guitar parts note for note might be difficult especially if there are many studio overdubs or instruments being played at the same time.

Sometimes you could tinker with the left and right channel mix and find ways to ISOLATE THE INSTRUMENT you are transcribing straight from mp3.

If you're lucky, you could also try to secure a copy of the original studio multitracks especially if the instrument you are transcribing is heavily submerged along with all the other instruments and this will greatly simplify things and reduce transcription errors in most cases.

Use software to slow down fast sections if necessary.
Last edited by ha_asgag at Apr 9, 2013,
QPC_Sam
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2011
580 IQ
#22
Quote by ArtistLion
is there a way to check if your transcription is right? Or are you always dependant on your own ears?


You can compare with someone else's transcription.

Or you can download a powertab/guitar pro file to listen to and transcribe without reading it first. The same with MIDI if you have a sequencer.
Learning a new cover song? Feel like recording it? And have people listen to it? See the CATPM thread in the Pit. Here's the user group