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Author Topic: How do YOU transcribe your music? ^^  (Read 444 times)

daj

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How do YOU transcribe your music? ^^
« on: February 12, 2017, 04:12:13 AM »

...and do you have absolute pitch or relative pitch? I'd just like to gather some info from experienced arrangers, haha.

Eventually I'll be doing a little tutorial series on how to start arranging, so more people can get past the initial barriers and do arrangements of their own. And the first step of that is to, literally, transcribe everything. So yeah, I'd like to know how you guys transcribe so I can teach this better in the future ^^

Cheers!~
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 05:36:03 AM by daj »
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Deku Trombonist

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Re: How do YOU trabscribe your music? ^^
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2017, 04:14:22 AM »

Sorry I can't help, unfortunately I've never trabscribed anything.
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E. Gadd Industries

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Re: How do YOU trabscribe your music? ^^
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2017, 04:25:49 AM »

While I'm not "experienced", so to speak, I'll offer info:
-I have neither, but I'm developing relative.
-Before arranging the song, I listen to it on repeat for at LEAST 30 mins uninterrupted. This REALLY helps me.
-Then, I utilize Audacity by taking the audio of the song & stretching each individual part of it so I can easily pick out the notes. In order to help me with still developing relative pitch, I have an app w/ a piano on it, and I'll tap around different notes as I play a section & adjust as I go. This typically involves replaying small portions of the song repeatedly. Alternatively, I run back and forth to my keyboard to do the same thing.
-Once I get a melody established, and it's put in Finale, I add more measures to the song (ones that would otherwise not be there), and work to establish any harmonies and/or bass that the melody would otherwise drown out in playback.
-Once I get all that figured out, I integrate everything back into the original song, and clean it up from there.
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Altissimo

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Re: How do YOU trabscribe your music? ^^
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2017, 04:32:18 AM »

Sorry I can't help, unfortunately I've never trabscribed anything.

fuckin hell you beat me to it

anyway to answer your question, i dont have absolute pitch. decent relative pitch tho, lots of time with ear training stuff and listening to classical music in the car radio will do that to you

when i transcribe a piece the first thing i do is identify the key, often by identifying either tonic or specific tendency intervals (fa-mi, le-sol, ti-do - this is where relative pitch kinda comes in) and then attaching it to a pitch by playing around on the piano until I get the right pitch, and the time signature by clapping/beating/conducting along and seeing what tendency I fall into. Then I identify the tempo with that bpm calculator. This one.

After creating the score with the key, time sig, and tempo marking, I transcribe first the melody (often by slowing it down to pick up on pitch, but I almost never have problems with identifying rhythmic values - one of my strengths as a musician) and then the bass line, and then use EXTREME SLOWDOWN to add everything that's in between. That's not very descriptive I know but it's hard to explain how you do something if u do it pretty much immediately lmao. I've thought about doing a speedpaint sort of thing where I make a sped-up video showing my process (probably with something that's already been transcribed but everyone knows, like something from Pokémon Red/Blue or an early Mario game) but that doesn't seem like it'd be a good idea when it's... music

I use my computer exclusively for transcribing - aka no real pianos (mostly because I don't have one immediately nearby but also because it allows me to transcribe anywhere I feel like it).
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Static

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Re: How do YOU trabscribe your music? ^^
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2017, 04:47:10 AM »

I don't really have absolute pitch, but I have a decent sense of relative pitch, which often helps me to link chords/notes to whatever key I'm in without actually checking each one note-for-note (I still double-check of course but this saves tons of time on a first draft).

For melodies, I usually transcribe them by comparing intervals between the notes to save time, though sometimes in more complicated or accidental-heavy melodies I check them note-for-note. For chords, I can usually tell what chord something is by listening to it, but sometimes, like in a big orchestra piece for example, they sound a little muddy or muffled, so I check those more thoroughly. Rhythms I often get just by listening, but sometimes in slow pieces or oddly-timed pieces where the rhythm is unclear, I slow the song down and subdivide the beats to find rhythms more accurately. For finding a time signature, I listen to entire song as a whole and go based off of the rhythm and melody usually. And finally, for key signatures I usually just try to find the tonic, but this can be difficult for some songs; in those I try to go off of the chord progression and choose the most logical fit for that.

When I actually start transcribing a song, I'm usually all over the place lol. Sometimes I just do a melody to start, sometimes just the bassline, sometimes just an entire LH part, or sometimes just everything at once while working measure-by-measure. I don't really have a structure, but I get the job done either way I guess.

Getting good at figuring out all these things quickly and efficiently definitely comes with practice. Chord and note identification exercises online for example are really helpful. Again though, a lot of the stuff I do when I transcribe isn't necessary to transcribe really, but saves a lot of time when doing so. But if someone's new to transcribing, I really recommend checking songs note-by-note and just being as thorough as possible. That's how I started.

Oh, and I guess I should include what I use to transcribe, that'd probably be helpful lol. I use my keyboard, an online keyboard if I'm too lazy to go across my room to use my actual keyboard, Audiostretch, Audacity, and of course a metronome to find the tempo.

That was a mouthful lol, but yeah. That's what I do in a nutshell.
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Yug_Guy

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Re: How do YOU trabscribe your music? ^^
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2017, 05:05:15 AM »

While I'm not "experienced", so to speak, I'll offer info:
  • Probably the biggest thing that helps me out is having a keyboard next to me to help me figure out notes. I don't have perfect pitch, but I'm usually pretty good at figuring out a melody after identifying the first note. It also helps with figuring out whether or not the fingering you've just written is actually playable or not.
  • Second biggest thing is a good pair of headphones, which can mean the difference between hearing the entirety of a song, or just the most easily-heard parts. For reference, I have a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones. They're definitely a bit on the pricey side, but they're probably the best pair of headphones I've ever owned.
  • I use the same website as Altissimo to figure out the bpm of a song.
  • I can't often tell what the key of a song is right off the bat, so I usually forgo a key signature until I have enough notes down to figure out what the key signature is. This ranges anywhere from one measure to half a song.
  • Youtube playback at half speed. A serious game-changer for me.
  • With the exception of some shorter/easier songs, I usually trabscribe the entirety of a certain part before going on to the next. Typically I'll start with the baseline (which also helps with identifying the key sig), then the melody, and then any accompaniment.
  • I'll usually try to aim for an accurate trabscription when doing a "first draft", then try and move the accompaniment/bass/whatever around for easy playability.
  • I play drums, so I have a pretty good sense of rhythm. But when I need to figure out the rhythm of a certain part, my method for figuring it out is by tapping out a continuous rhythm of 8th notes/16th notes/whatever, and hearing where the note of the melody/harmony/whatever falls. (I also know when something's a triplet since it won't line up with whatever rhythm I'm playing)

Certainly not the most comprehensive list, but it's most of the big things that I do when trabscribing. Hope this helps!

daj

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Re: How do YOU trabscribe your music? ^^
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2017, 05:36:57 AM »

Sorry I can't help, unfortunately I've never trabscribed anything.

oh god shoot me in the face

it took me an hour to get this welp

~

Anyway, thanks for your replies guys! ^^ I'll go ask some more questions to some peeps soon haha, but really, thanks for sharing your trabscription tips :)
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Latios212

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Re: How do YOU trabscribe your music? ^^
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2017, 05:53:08 AM »

Short answer: I try notes until it sounds right.

Long answer (might wander a little and lack focus):

My process looks a little something like this:

- Before entering any notes, determine the time signature and key signature (generally by identifying the tonic).
- Go through the song, generally a few measures at a time, one voice at a time, and put the notes in. So I might write in 4 measures of bass, then the melody, then the rest of the stuff, then go on to the next few measures. I don't always work like this, but often do.

Regarding finding the correct pitches, I don't actually have a good process for this haha. I don't have perfect pitch; my relative pitch has improved tremendously in my time here but I still don't do much besides tap out notes on the keyboard until I hit the right ones (or in the absence of a keyboard, directly into Finale). I use AudioStretch exclusively to slow down songs and find pitches. For chords generally I never identify them before I isolate each of the individual notes and be sure that I'm hearing them correctly.

But that's what I do now. If I had to talk to two-year-ago me who'd never transcribed anything before, I'd recommend starting with easy (2-3 voice, nothing crazy) tracks and being very sure that all the notes are right. If that's too hard, just try a simpler piece. Songs with independent voices (like just melody and bass, or a third voice that moves around on its own as opposed to in parallel with another), I think, are easier to isolate mentally, which is a really important thing to learn how to do. Listen actively and mentally follow along with each voice.

I got my transcription skills starting with Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal tracks, and used that as a jumping off point to slowly move on to more complex pieces. Game Boy and NES tracks are a great place to start because of their 3-voice limit.
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Re: How do YOU transcribe your music? ^^
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2017, 06:26:52 AM »

I'm not very good at transcribing and I don't have any fancy methods at all.
I just listen to like 4 measure sections over and over again, trying to pick out each voice. I put them on different staves and build on each one until it's perfect, then I move onto a new section. When all the notes are in, I condense it to look nice/be playable.
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Re: How do YOU transcribe your music? ^^
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2017, 10:14:26 AM »

Me listen song and write me hear.  It not always work.
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AmpharosAndy

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Re: How do YOU trabscribe your music? ^^
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2017, 12:38:02 PM »

I use AudioStretch exclusively to slow down songs and find pitches.
WHY DID I NEVER THINK TO SLOW IT DOWN??

Seems like most people do the same thing, really. I tend to do the bass for the entire song before doing anything else so that I have some sort of idea of the harmony/structure before really doing much. I'm always working on accompaniment, the main melody is usually the last thing to come in. Lots of educated guesses if you can't hear a part at all. Then again, what do I know? I've not got anything on site XD
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Dekkadeci

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Re: How do YOU transcribe your music? ^^
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 02:51:26 PM »

I'm the first one posting here with absolute pitch, it seems. Then again, I started developing that in Grade 8, and I've read several times that it's virtually always developed in the first few years of life, so who knows how genuine it is? (In my first few years of absolute pitch, I had to use Middle C as a reference note and several pieces of classical music for reference keys.)

That would explain how I typically start off with the melody and figuring out a lead sheet's worth of harmony.

If I can find 100% accurate sheet music (but with too many parts), I listen to the song several times to figure out which melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments I care about the most, then take the appropriate music from there. Some music files, such as .nsf's and .ftm's, can be processed such that their note values can be read by humans, so I treat them as sheet music.

If I cannot find 100% accurate sheet music, I then figure out whether I can pick out enough melody and accompaniment lines anyway (plausible for 8-bit music) or I can come up with a good enough arrangement on the piano that sounds fleshed-out enough. If either applies, I start writing down the transcription. I use YouTube at slower speeds (so far, 50% is the only one that works) to help me with rhythms and fast passages. I use a version with no dead air time at the start to figure out precise tempos (if I can't find any or the piece has tempo changes, I use approximate tempos instead).

I use any number of time signature changes necessary to express the piece. (I still tend to use 4/4 time for 3-3-2, 3-3-3-3-2-2, or even stuff like Megalovania's 2-2-3-2-2-2-3 rhythmic patterns, though.) I use key signature changes if they occur rarely enough, but if key changes occur every 2-4 bars, I tend to use one home key and use a lot of accidentals for passages not in that key.

Because of my absolute pitch, I find transcriptions with incorrect melodies or harmonies to be painful to listen to (and they're everywhere), so I aim to be as accurate as possible with my transcriptions. This is why I find arranging to be significantly easier than transcribing (but I generally need a gimmick in order to justify not going for accuracy).
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 02:58:45 PM by Dekkadeci »
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daj

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Re: How do YOU transcribe your music? ^^
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2017, 03:14:26 PM »

Hehe, thanks for more answers guys, i'll probably reference this thread when I do the video.

From now, what i gather is that there are a lot of ways to go about with the basic transcription, but the idea is to:

- find the key, meter and tempo
- then find the first note of the melody, then create the rest of the phrase using interval recognition (?)
- orrr find the first note, then use resolving tendencies as references (thanks altissimo! hehe)
- orrrrr use hard work and brute force (thanks latios <3)

Seems pretty legit, hehe, thanks guys :)

~

One more question, if you don't mind lending more of your time haha - how would you teach a complete beginner with only performance experience to transcribe? xD

I really want to do a good tutorial, but I'll admit - absolute pitch is cheating. So yeah, it'd really help if you guys shared a little more hehe <3

(p.s. I didn't forget you dekka! ^^ Thanks for the arranging tips hehe. I think the idea with absolute pitch is that transcribing isn't really a problem haha, welp.)
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Re: How do YOU transcribe your music? ^^
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2017, 03:23:58 PM »

Transcribing in 7 easy steps:
1. Have the song open on YouTube.
2. Create a sheet, with appropriate time and key signatures.
3. Test for BPM using a simple website.
4. Continuously swap between the Youtube video and the sheet, transcribing the melody as you do so. If necessary, slow down the video.
5. Repeat Step 4 for the bassline and accompaniment. If you can't hear the bassline properly, just vomit out something and call it a day, making sure to keep to appropriate chord progressions.
6. Nice.
7. Triple check for accuracy.

I mean, that's what I do (abridged).

How would you teach a complete beginner with only performance experience to transcribe? xD
"Practice".

Boom I did it. I solved the problem.

AmpharosAndy

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Re: How do YOU transcribe your music? ^^
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2017, 03:31:41 PM »

how would you teach a complete beginner with only performance experience to transcribe? xD
Quite a simple but effective one for rhythms (depending on the speed obvs) is to tap a quaver rhythm and hum the bit you're working on.
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