All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Beginner Any tips for transcribing?

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Do any of you experienced transcribers have any tips? I’m attempting to transcribe this beautiful tune: 'Way Back Home'

It’s a humbling experience, yesterday I thought I had the first two phrases sorted, but then today as I went over them again I realised they weren’t right and I had to fixed a few wrong notes, not that there were many notes to start with! I’m half expecting to return to it tomorrow only to discover it’s still not quite right.

I feel like I'm very slow at this and working on very small sections, I'm thinking a little and often is probably best. And hopefully the more I do the better my ear will get.

I don’t know if I’m approaching this in the right way but as I have no idea what key the tune is in or how to work it out, I’m just jotting down the notes as if it were in the key of C. I’m not bothering to write the rhythm out either because I can hear it and it would be far to complicated for me to work it out at this stage.

I’m using 'Transcribe' to slow it down and to repeat sections as I fumble around on my sax trying to figure it out. I could use a keyboard but one of the reasons behind doing this transcription and others in the future is to link my ‘minds’ inner ear with the fingering on the sax and the note it produces.

What is really rewarding doing this is hearing the nuances of tone, the shape of the attack on the notes and general feel of the phrasing Wilton Felder puts into this tune. I’m not sure I’ve ever focused so intently on a tune before.

All the best,

Chris
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,662
Chris, this is way out of my league, but I'm amazed by your dedication to this noble art! Good luck with it.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
All these things seem very sensible to me - it's interval training, scale practice and music theory rolled into one, which is why it's difficult.
You do seem to be doing everything right though, slow it down, come at it little and often, check your work, and listen hard! It takes practice but you're doing everything right so keep up the good work and you'll get there.

Nick
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,390
And another thing ....

I often try to ge a midi file for the tune. Sometimes someone else has done a pretty good job of getting the music (including solo) down already, so i can just grab it by importing the midi into Sibelius. The midi file can also be used to make a reasonable backing track (mute the sax line if necessary) and then once your transcription is done, you have a band ready to play with.

I did a quick search for a midi file of your Crusaders track and found this (no solo and costs $9, but sounds quite reasonable): http://www.ronfry.com/samples/WAYBACKX.MID

Good luck

Rhys
 
Last edited:

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,302
Do any of you experienced transcribers have any tips? I’m attempting to transcribe this beautiful tune: 'Way Back Home'

It’s a humbling experience, yesterday I thought I had the first two phrases sorted, but then today as I went over them again I realised they weren’t right and I had to fixed a few wrong notes, not that there were many notes to start with! I’m half expecting to return to it tomorrow only to discover it’s still not quite right.

I feel like I'm very slow at this and working on very small sections, I'm thinking a little and often is probably best. And hopefully the more I do the better my ear will get.

I don’t know if I’m approaching this in the right way but as I have no idea what key the tune is in or how to work it out, I’m just jotting down the notes as if it were in the key of C. I’m not bothering to write the rhythm out either because I can hear it and it would be far to complicated for me to work it out at this stage.

I’m using 'Transcribe' to slow it down and to repeat sections as I fumble around on my sax trying to figure it out. I could use a keyboard but one of the reasons behind doing this transcription and others in the future is to link my ‘minds’ inner ear with the fingering on the sax and the note it produces.

What is really rewarding doing this is hearing the nuances of tone, the shape of the attack on the notes and general feel of the phrasing Wilton Felder puts into this tune. I’m not sure I’ve ever focused so intently on a tune before.

All the best,

Chris
Chris

It's become one of my fav exercises. I'd say do two things first off. Firstly, developing a good relative pitch is what really helps with transcription. Don't worry about the key initially and don't worry if you're a semi-tone away from where you need to be as long as the relative intervals are correct. So forget the 'piece' itself and concentrate on the relative pitch thing. Pick all of the tunes that you know and that are internalised. Nursery rhymes, hymns, movie themes, old classics. Because you know the tunes, or at least parts of them internally you should be able to work them out. Some examples I use are: My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean, Happy Birthday, Jingle Bells, Rudolf the Red Nose.., Oh Come all ye Faithful, Good King Wencesslass, Oh When the Saints, Bread of Heaven, Theme to Starwars, Annie's song etc etc; there'll be loads you know. Best if you can just play them but if not listen to them then play,

This does two things. It gets you playing by ear and because you know the tunes so well it'll be much easier than transcribing stuff you know less well or that is harder. Also, it'll improve your relative pitch. Watch out in you 'transcription' of say Star Wars for the interval of a perfect 5th at the beginning, or an octave at the beginning of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Here comes the Bride has a perfect 4th and so on. This site may help too but try to work out you own. After a while you'll start to recognised them and be able to apply that to you transcription of other pieces of music.

It's a cognitive process that'll take as long as it does. I've been working hard on this for two years now and I can suggest that you're best keeping away from live recordings initially (they may not be in tune) and always transcribe the best sound you can muster. Pick small passages/phrases and that doesn't always mean starting at the beginning. get get a feel for something as a point of reference and then add a note before/after bit by bit. Works for me.

OK, secondly, learn your scales well - as this will help you ears. never play scales from music and play in all the keys. Play around the cycle of 5th. Do this for major, dorian, relative minor, dominant 7th etc etc. Listen to the differences between D, D- and D7 carefully. Add a flattened 5th too. All works to help develop the ears.

Karen makes me do a lot of transcribing but I love it anyway. Coming back to working out the key of a piece of music by ear is much harder and I'm pretty hit and miss but it is possible and like most things gets easier.

Finally to reiterate, start simple. Look for key phrases to work out from. Don't pick anything too hard to start with and keep practicing. It will come eventually.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Just wait until the "Wyver" awakes..................he'll solve it in a pithy sentence.......but where is he..............?:w00t::shocked:;}

Kind regards
Tom:cool:

I bet he's fallen in his reed box............
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Re. relative pitch. I've been doing some ear training myself lately, and it's really helped with playing in tune as well as playing stuff by ear. Band In a Box has a good melodic interval recognition module and the following site is pretty good:

teoría - Music Theory Web

Cheers

Martin
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Re. relative pitch. I've been doing some ear training myself lately, and it's really helped with playing in tune as well as playing stuff by ear. Band In a Box has a good melodic interval recognition module and the following site is pretty good:

teoría - Music Theory Web

Cheers

Martin
That's a good site, took me 45 mins to get up to 39% on the rhythmic transcribing... Lots of work needed!
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Wow, I wasn't expecting so many posts, thanks everyone for your suggestions. There bits to this I'd not fully thought out and I can see now that it's better to start right than try and go back and sort it out afterwards. I'm in a bit of a rush as I think my band rehearsal night has been moved so I've got to head out.

Thanks again,

Chris
 

thehunt

Member
Messages
785
Hi Chris, i too am new to transcribing and have real difficulty in doing it, i am transcribing Dexter Gordon's, Guess i'll hang my tears out to dry, started ok but some parts i just cannot fathom them out, so i cheated and bought a transcription. There i've said it. I'm a cheat. At least i was abe to see then where i was going a bit wayward.
But it is a long process for some. I suppose we can't all be good at all parts of sax learning.
Good luck, Phil
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,302
Hi Chris, i too am new to transcribing and have real difficulty in doing it, i am transcribing Dexter Gordon's, Guess i'll hang my tears out to dry, started ok but some parts i just cannot fathom them out, so i cheated and bought a transcription. There i've said it. I'm a cheat. At least i was abe to see then where i was going a bit wayward.
But it is a long process for some. I suppose we can't all be good at all parts of sax learning.
Good luck, Phil
Phil

Not cheating at all. As you may recall, I'm working on the same piece and have followed a similar route. I ended up buying the dots after doing some of my own transcription and it's helped me enormously. I've pretty much memorised the whole piece now, mostly be ear and am working on the finer nuances of the articulation.

I also have another playalong version of the tune so am starting to work with that rather than playing along with Dexter.
 

thehunt

Member
Messages
785
Ian,
What playalong are you using as i have been looking for one? I have not quite memorised it yet but certainly working on the articulation.
I am working on soul eyes at the moment but also struggling with that.
Still i have a gig ( end of year concert ) next Sunday so have been working on my two solos Angel eyes and Blues in the night plus the 12 tunes we are doing for the concert, also got my grade four on Tuesday 16th so not had much time for anything else!

Sorry Chris to hi-jack your thread, got a bit carried away there.
Phil

Phil
Phil

Not cheating at all. As you may recall, I'm working on the same piece and have followed a similar route. I ended up buying the dots after doing some of my own transcription and it's helped me enormously. I've pretty much memorised the whole piece now, mostly be ear and am working on the finer nuances of the articulation.

I also have another playalong version of the tune so am starting to work with that rather than playing along with Dexter.
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,302
Ian,
What playalong are you using as i have been looking for one? I have not quite memorised it yet but certainly working on the articulation.
I am working on soul eyes at the moment but also struggling with that.
Still i have a gig ( end of year concert ) next Sunday so have been working on my two solos Angel eyes and Blues in the night plus the 12 tunes we are doing for the concert, also got my grade four on Tuesday 16th so not had much time for anything else!

Sorry Chris to hi-jack your thread, got a bit carried away there.
Phil

Phil
It's a Hal Leonard playalong Slo' Jazz.
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,581
This is a good topic.

I have used transcribe allot, tho not probably as much as Rhys, or Half D

It is a very slow process in the beginning (still working through this), but firmly believe huge benifits eventually come to those who percevere!

Eventually it's all in the ears, but you got to go through the mill to get there!

Cheers
 
Last edited by a moderator:

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,390
Hi Chris,

I have knocked out a sketch score in Sibelius based on the Crusaders performance from YouTube. It gives the structure of the song and the main tune bits but I haven't yet transcribed Wilton Felder's sax solo.

I am also working on a backing track where the sax part is muted and it can be used to practice your sax part with Wilton's solo or your own.

If you would like either of these (sketch score as a pdf and backing track as an mp3) to compare with yours or to use, then drop me a PM.

Best regards

Rhys

PS Also got the Transcribe! file with all the section, bar and beat markers in, although not in absolutely final positions.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Sorry Chris to hi-jack your thread, got a bit carried away there.
Phil

Phil
Hi Phil,

You're not hi-jacking my thread at all, it's all relevant and and useful stuff.

I'm already finding my ears are opening up to more of the subtleties in the playing now that I'm trying to work out what is being played. like those short phrases, often after the main rift, that sort of drop away in volume to nothing and yet they add so much emotion or feeling to the piece. When I listen to that and then think of my own playing where I'm almost the opposite, wanting to making sure every last note is heard!

It may be hard work and I've got a heck of a long way to go but I know it's doing me good and I'm enjoying the challenge.

Best wishes,

Chris
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Hi Chris,

I have knocked out a sketch score in Sibelius based on the Crusaders performance from YouTube. It gives the structure of the song and the main tune bits but I haven't yet transcribed Wilton Felder's sax solo.

I am also working on a backing track where the sax part is muted and it can be used to practice your sax part with Wilton's solo or your own.

If you would like either of these (sketch score as a pdf and backing track as an mp3) to compare with yours or to use, then drop me a PM.

Best regards

Rhys

PS Also got the Transcribe! file with all the section, bar and beat markers in, although not in absolutely final positions.
Hi Rhys,

On both counts yes please, and thank you so much, I'll send you a PM.

I was actually going to see if anyone wanted to, or was willing to compare notes with me once I've made some progress with it. I want to do the transcription myself but it would be great to see how close I am once I've finished it. And to be able to play along to a backing track would be excellent.

Best wishes,

Chris
 
Top Bottom