#1
Skip to Paragraph two if you don’t want the introduction (paragraph one).

I’ve recently gone on a huge Guthrie Govan binge and watched/read just about everything that he has on the internet. He’s persistent in this concept of “hearing before studying”. I’m paraphrasing his evaluation of his own musical education when I say that he first listened to songs, figured out how to play them and then went and read up on the theory behind what was going on after the actual theory was already an intrinsic part of him – he just didn’t know the name for it or how to describe it. I feel there is a certain logic to this approach to music as compared to what I’ve been doing, which is delving in head and foot, studying every concept I can get my hands on when I can’t actually feel what I’m studying. Though I know the modes, how to play them, I don’t know intrinsically what they sound like etc etc.

So long story short – I what to start transcribing to get a feel for music. Is there a wrong way to do this? I pick easy songs and madly strum frets until I find the right one. Then I pretty much repeat but use a little logical (ie move up or down if I hear the note is higher/lower). Is this helping me at all? Will I start automatically hitting the right note quicker the more I do this or am I going about it wrong?
#2
try to hear chords rather than just guitar lines maybe. once you've got the sound of a ii V I progression down, and some good old fashioned I V VI IV and all that you'll find that recognising some of the slightly more fancy chord progressions that are commonly used (such as a I III IV, or a IV iv I, or a I biii, or whatever they might be) becomes a lot easier. you get to a point where you hear something and go 'oh, that's an unexpected change, but it sounds like *this song*, so it must be a *this chord progression*'
I started out with Frank Turner songs, but any kind of singer/songwriter (though I hate to label Frank Turner as such) is a good start. see if you can figure out chords for Johnny Cash songs, or Jack Johnson by ear? Listen to a whole album all the way through, and try to play along with it all as you go, without tabs.
Then it'd be a good idea to listening to melodies, because you'll be able to go 'well that sounds like a note in the chord, and I can figure out what the chord is', and that narrows your options of notes right down from 12 to just 3 or 4 (usually).
If you do start with transcribing melodies, start with some simple ones - as in, very simple, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star kind of simple - and see if you can hear which chords are implied by the melody.
I definitely think that chords are a very firm base to have when transcribing, and also when improvising
#3
My advice is, If you want to get good at transcribing fast start with your ears! Learn to identify intervals One by one and then chords
#5
Am I the only one that thinks that transcribing single note runs is way easier that chords?

Thanks for the advice though.
#6
When transcribing chordss, try and find the root note first then fill in the other intervals.
#7
What I would suggest doing is finding a song you really like and getting an audio program such as Audacity (free) or Amazing Slow Downer (not free), and slowing down your song. You will probably be able to hear the notes better than fully speed. Then all you do is just try to match the pitch on your guitar, and write the notes down in tab or sheet music.

What is happening when you do this is you are hearing the sounds and making a connection to where they are on the guitar. It takes awhile to get good at it, but it's worth it.
#8
First of all, congrats on manning up and admitting you aren't "feeling" a lot of what you've "learnt". By working on your ears and figuring out how things work on the guitar, you'll actually greatly increase your understanding of these "theoretical" concepts - they'll become concrete music concepts that you can use and apply!

I would say that your current method is fine. After a while you should be able to make educated guesses about what key something is in, or perhaps you'll hear a chord progression and know exactly what it is.

Make sure you use your ears intelligently. If there's a note you can't get, don't just try every fret on the guitar, make sure you can hear whether it's higher or lower than the previous one - then just try things in the right direction.

I would also suggest doing interval training (like this - http://www.musictheory.net/exercises/ear-interval !). I have an app for my phone, I can use it during downtime to improve my ears.

There's a good list of references here - http://www.justinguitar.com/en/AU-002-SongIntervals.php

Finally, my favourite program for this stuff is bestpractice - http://download.cnet.com/BestPractice/3000-2133_4-10794555.html

You can loop sections, cut out left, right or center of the mix with karaoke mode, and retune the music in real time. (so all those ****ers that record out of tune or in Eb can tune to me! )

Quote by cbara
Am I the only one that thinks that transcribing single note runs is way easier that chords?

Thanks for the advice though.


Definitely not! I find chords much harder to figure out, but that's only reasonable - chords are 3 or more notes at the same time, single note runs... are single notes.

"Runs" are quite often just scales as well, so if you know your scales then it can be trivial to figure them out.
#9
A very very very good song to start transcribing is Gary Moore's the loner. It's a guitar orientated instrumental so its very easy to hear the guitar. It's all in one key and its mainly slow tempo stuff with a few fast licks thrown in.
#10
Thanks again everyone especially Freepower

I'm guessing I can find another thread done that will give me a list of songs to start my transcribbing career with (if not ... look for a thread started by me soon!).

I'll try the Gary Moore tonight if it isn't too hard (can't check as I'm at work).

Last thing - Is there any advantage (or disadvantage possibly?) to try transcribing at full speed? Will using software that slows it down hinder progress in the long run or is it a crutch to help begineers along? When I think logically about this I can come up with two opposing arguments.
#11
I'm guessing I can find another thread done that will give me a list of songs to start my transcribbing career with (if not ... look for a thread started by me soon!).


Here's a list of suggestions - http://justinguitar.com/en/TR-000-Transcribing.php

Here's some great ear training info - http://justinguitar.com/en/AU-000-AuralTraining.php

A general tip - never underestimate Justin. He's popular because he's good at simplifying things, not because he's simple.

Last thing - Is there any advantage (or disadvantage possibly?) to try transcribing at full speed? Will using software that slows it down hinder progress in the long run or is it a crutch to help begineers along? When I think logically about this I can come up with two opposing arguments.


Honestly, both arguments are true. I don't think it's wrong (especially when you just start) to slow things down - however, full speed is the way to go when you develop serious ears, that's a tip I got from Guthrie once. I came across a jazz guy saying the same thing recently.

That said, both of those guys are a little better at this than you and me.
#12
To work out stuff thats fast, you will first have to know exactly what it sounds like slow, so using windows media player to slow down the track is understandable. Transcribing is one of the hardest things to do on the guitar and i would say 99% of guitarists don't even attempt to learn things by ear.

So yeah, try gary moore's the loner and slow down anything you need to.

Kudos for wanting to learn by ear