Have you ever listened to Jimi Hendrix or B.B King play the guitar and wish “man, I wish I knew how to play that!” but it can only be wishful thinking because their licks, riffs and solos could go by pretty fast leaving you little or no time to hear the exact notes they played not to talk of playing it. Transcribing songs is a key knowledge every guitarist should have if you really want to improve your hearing and playing skills tremendously, it helps you tear a song apart and learn every bit of it. Listening to the song over and again may only help you learn but a fraction of the song, transcribing it however, will help you learn and master the song as deeply as you want. It’s not as easy as you may think, it is also not as difficult as you may think; it just requires a great deal of focus and enthusiasm to get it right, there are tools that have made it easier for songs to be transcribed and learned but before we go into that, let’s just have a quick look at what it takes to transcribe a song by ear.
- Before you transcribe a song, get yourself somewhere quiet and peaceful, take away every form of distractions and noise, this will help you to concentrate and hear nothing else but the music you’re about to transcribe.
- Listen to the entire song from start to finish for a couple of times, say two or three times.
- Listen to the instruments one after the other, starting with the rhythm guitar. It may be very tempting to want to listen to other instruments or the lead guitar but fight that temptation, focus your listening on the rhythm guitar alone.
- Play the song again and this time listen to the lead guitar alone. Repeat it again and listen to the bass guitar, then the piano, the drums etc. Doing this will develop your aural skills and will improve your ability to transcribe any song at all.
- Listen to the chord progression of the song and transcribe the chords.
- Transcribe the melody.
- Work out the time signature.
- Always write out what you’re hearing and transcribing.
- Don’t force yourself to finish the entire song in one sitting or one session, take it bit by bit until you have a hang of it. Start with shorter songs first so you don’t get discouraged and overwhelmed, then try out longer songs as you progress.
Now let’s explore 5 tools I would personally recommend to transcribe any song or solo you want on the guitar plus an extra something for you at the end of this article #wink#
This is one of the most talked about software tools for transcribing, it’s from Seventh String Software and is pretty much straightforward and easy to use. One of the interesting features of Transcribe! is the onboard keyboard that makes it easy to compare notes, it can slow down music and speed it up without changing the pitch. Transcribe! can be arranged to suit or match most of your foot pedals so that you can control the playback to start and stop with your feet while your hands are free. This software is not set to automatically do all the work for you, it just makes the transcribing work you do by yourself, easier. So, I’ll advice you to have a basic knowledge about transcribing and know how to actually transcribe simple songs before making use of this great tool!
Soundslice is embedded with lots of features, the software refers to every piece of music as a ‘slice’. It brilliantly syncs music notation with real audio or video recordings. With Soundslice, you can slow down music without changing the pitch, you can hide the parts of the music you do not want to work on, you can zoom in and out of notation to fit smaller screens plus a host of other superb features, the great part about this software is that it works on any device and is accessible from your web browser, you do not have to do any installations.
ScoreCloud is created by Doremir, a Sweden-based Musical Intelligence Company. The main function that this software has is to automatically convert whatever you sing, play or record into music notation. Other functions are recording and transcribing recorded audio to MIDI, converting it into sheet music and sharing it online. ScoreCloud is easy and convenient to use both for beginner musicians as well as advanced musicians.
Avid, who are also the makers of Pro Tools, created this very useful software to make transcribing songs very easy. It is seen as one of the quickest and smartest ways to transcribe music (opinions from many musicians), it is very easy to write and share music to anyone and they can access it on any device. Even if you’re a novice in the transcribing world, Sibelius has such an intuitive user interface that helps you navigate your way through the process and also guides you along your songwriting process. Once you get the hang of it, you can delve into the numerous features and resources that are made available for you to learn from.
AnthemScore is a very brilliant music transcription software. It finds and detects notes for you automatically, it contains elaborate editing options like changing tempo, key signature and time signature in any song, you can halve or double the number of beats in a song which makes it really quick and easy to modify any transcription at all. You can choose and customize your instruments and save as PDF, musicXML or MIDI.
Now, over to the “extra something” I talked about earlier:
Many of us learn from YouTube specifically, myself inclusive. This is one tool that I have used and found useful for making my transcribing task a lot easier. In other words, it is tested and trusted by me! The Vidami pedal by Utility Design is a fascinating video-looping foot pedal that enables you to play, pause, loop, slow down, fast-forward and rewind YouTube videos and videos from other supported online platforms with just a click from five foot-switches on the pedal, leaving you hands-free! After connecting the USB cable of the pedal to the USB port of your computer, all you need to do is register, download and install. Below is a full review and what I really think about the Vidami pedal.
Click on this link to find out more about the Vidami pedal https://vidami.com/?ref=HelenIbe and Use DISCOUNT CODE: HelenIbe10 when purchasing yours to get a 15% discount off your purchase. Thank me later😉
Find out more about how to use the pedal here https://youtu.be/plFBw1sw9XM