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#1325140 - 12/14/09 12:03 PM Transcribing for the Lazy
aerfirmie Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 3
Can anyone provide any examples of some type of short hand they use for transcribing music? I am looking for simple methods. When I get ready to transcribe I think of all that music notation and using the right type of note(eighth, whole) and just end up not doing it.

Piano & Music Accessories
#1325166 - 12/14/09 12:24 PM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: aerfirmie]
KlinkKlonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 435
Don't write it down then just memorize it.

#1325175 - 12/14/09 12:36 PM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: KlinkKlonk]
Swingin' Barb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
First -- let me have a good laugh here. laugh laugh

Okay, here goes.

I have devised a way to transcribe that drives my percussionist husband a bit crazy.

On manuscript paper, I write notes as slashes. I give it no real note value as far as quarter, eighth, sixteenth, half note. All I write are slashes on the lines and spaces. For long note values, I will use a circle instead of a slash. I will occasionally remember to put in bar lines. LOL

This works for me because when I transcribe single lines, I already can sing the melody. I have listened and listened to the section and I don't begin to transcribe until I know the melody.

I use slow down software to verify the notes. My transcriptions are odd to look at, but, it works for me.

A Sudnow Method Fanatic
"Color tones, can't live without them"

To hear how I have progressed since 2006, check out: http://b.kane.home.mindspring.com

#1325249 - 12/14/09 02:53 PM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: Swingin' Barb]
knotty Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 3025
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
don't bother writing it down.

That said, there's some value in writing it down, so here's how I would do it.
Connect your midi controller to your PC.
Use free software like Rosegarden (or another).

Play into it.

If you play slow enough, the sheet is probably going to look really good. Play hands separate so you don't have the staff issue.

#1325703 - 12/15/09 01:27 AM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: knotty]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457
I agree not writing them down is good way to go.. but it might require more work and time to do it that way, esp if the solo is long.. but if you do it that way you will be able to learn new solos much faster in the long run.

The problem is that sometimes we get so into writing things down that we might not spend enough time actually playing them on the piano.

#1325707 - 12/15/09 01:37 AM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: etcetra]
aerfirmie Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 3

I took your advice and did the slashes. Works perfect for me! Something about making a circle and a line was too daunting.

#1325761 - 12/15/09 07:10 AM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: aerfirmie]
Swingin' Barb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: aerfirmie
Works perfect for me!

Glad I can be of help. There are probably more folks around doing it this way, but they prefer to stay in hiding. grin

BTW -- Welcome to the forum!

A Sudnow Method Fanatic
"Color tones, can't live without them"

To hear how I have progressed since 2006, check out: http://b.kane.home.mindspring.com

#1325770 - 12/15/09 07:35 AM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: Swingin' Barb]
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
I've had teachers that say it is important to write it down, and I've had teachers that say the most important thing is to memorize it and that it isn't important to write it down at all.

One teacher proposed learning it, memorizing it, then writing it down afterward.

But when I'm in the process of working on a transcription, I do it in several steps. The first few times I listen to a piece, I'll try and grasp the form, and how many solo choruses there are. Then I'll try and grasp how the solo is constructed and how it fits into the form. Then I'll listen for "licks" or patterns, and how those fit into the solo. Then I'll start just sketching parts, not really paying attention to actual rhythm (unless it is really easy to catch), and just put noteheads down on staff paper. As accuracy improves, I'll start to specifically isolate sections to capture the rhythm. In general, I work from the general to the more specific.

It isn't easy -- at first. It does get easier over time. The best proof I had of that was my jazz piano teacher, who could hear something once or twice and then nail it. While he did have written transcriptions (he gave me a really nice transcription of Duke Ellington's Single Petal of a Rose), he was one of the ones that said it isn't so important to write things down.


#1330463 - 12/21/09 07:07 AM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: Guy]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1224
Loc: London UK
You've really answered the question in the message title :-) There's a perfectly good system of standard notation. Inventing your own dumbed-down system is - like you say - just lazy. Kindly friends and teachers will tell you that's OK. They do this for a good reason - there's no point in putting a student in a situation where he will fail and get discouraged. But in reality you need to develop a strategy for becoming fluent with notation, not one for avoiding doing so.

#1330556 - 12/21/09 10:36 AM Re: Transcribing for the Lazy [Re: Exalted Wombat]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1457
I think it's best to just make it a habit of learning stuff by ear. I had this gig the other night, and the sax player gave me the wrong call time, so I got there an hour early. They owners let me noodle around the piano so I was playing along with the records they were playing. I just sat there and figured out the chord progression and the melody to tunes like "Love you madly".

If you have time to do that regularly, I am sure transcribing a solos would come a lot easier.


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