Hey guys.

I've recently started a new practice routine, and part of it is going to involve transcribing to help out my ear. I've never transcribed an entire song before, and was wondering how I should go about starting.

I will be using guitar pro by the way.
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Hey Sophist,

My recommendation would be simply to use notepad first (you can grab a tab template on UG) and then use that to create your Guitar Pro file. The reason I suggest doing it this way is that you're going to have to work on the transcription as you're progressing through the song and sitting there trying to figure out what type of note it should be (e.g. eighth, quarter, etc.), getting the measures to work out, syncing it with the tempo, will make the act of transcribing more difficult. If you simply jot down the notes/chords for the full song you can then just take that information and more easily input it into Guitar Pro.

As far as how you should go about beginning a transcription (assuming I'm understanding your question correctly), I'd say go with the section that you feel the most comfortable with and what is the clearest to your ear. For me, I like sorting out the bass line first because from that you can determine the key and then from THAT you can start to flesh out the chords and riffs.

Just an idea--hit me up if I can be of any other help!
Learn intervals, know rhythm and know how to work out the key of a song.


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For me personally, I honestly can't give any methodical tips. I just... did it.... and failed...A LOT.

When I first started out, I tried to transcribe any music I heard, on the radio, TV commercials, little jingles and things like that.

By doing this, my ear was always getting a work out, although I wasn't conscious of that at the time. I just did it, oblivious to the fact of the benefit of transcribing, and not only that, I didn't even know what the word meant, in fact, I don't think I'd even heard of it.

Answering this thread now makes me realize what was happening (how and why) my ear was developing during this period.

I suppose a "tip" I could give you, is to try and transcribe music that is not so idiomatic to the guitar.

For example, I recently transcribed the harmony to Do I Do by Stevie Wonder. There is a single note funk line going on in there, but the implied harmony is not played in "guitar chords" ya know?
Last edited by mdc at Dec 10, 2011,
I recently began transcribing hymns for my church choir... No melodic lines or anything but just the backing chords for song...

Knowing your chord key progressions help eliminates a lot of the guesswork...
If you want a course in transcribing with lots of tips as well as structured exercises, buy "Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician" by Keith Wyatt et al.
The first couple months are gonna be a lot of trial and error. After a few songs, though, you start getting into a groove and your ear will get better over time. It's really not something you can cheat or make easy, unless you're using Green Day songs when you want to perform Nevermore or something.
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