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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm doing my transcription exercises like a good student, currently working on Cannonball Adderley's solo on Stars Fell On Alabama. I am computer savvy but incompetent at all music software, so I'm learning them as I go. I'm good to go for looping -- I'm using Audacity on my PC and Music Speed Changer on my phone (though I might pony up for Amazing Slow Downer.)

My problem is actually writing stuff down. I'm using MuseScore 3 at the moment, which is great and terrible. It will play me the note back, which helps my old ears, but inputting rhythms and notes with the keyboard is a nightmare. In an ideal world, I'd love to just listen to the recording, play what I hear on the horn, and see what I play written out, where I could go back later and tweak the rhythms and time to account for my general terribleness. I'm willing to believe that would hurt me as far as getting used to writing out rhythms, and also that practically that would probably take a super expensive EWI for midi input, but I'm also super frustrated at the experience of input as "no, triplets. No, QUARTER NOTE TRIPLETS. NO NOT THERE! Shove over another eighth note! Oh, forget it, I'll just use a paper and pencil."

What do you use? Have you just gotten used to your note input software? Are you using a cheap midi keyboard? (I can't play the piano, btw...) Did you spring for an EWI?
 

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What’s wrong with paper and pencil? I say this as a (now retired) software engineer who used to be a programmer for Encore, notation software that is now defunct. And ex-professional saxophonist, who occasionally had to do copying (back before computers were used to produce music, one of the reasons I got the job on Encore…)

Seriously, the only reason to put scores in the computer are to produce parts, or make it easier to transpose, or modify an arrangement. For a professional arranger and copyist, it’s a game changer. For personal notes, it’s a PITA.

I actually find it easiest to input notes using a MIDI keyboard, and edit (I.e., quantize) in the piano roll view to produce written music. I use Logic for this, but if you are on Windows Cubase has a similar facility, and I think that there is a quick export from Cubase to Dorico, which seems to be the best notation program these days. Of course, you have to spend money for these programs….

But for writing tunes, and taking notes, I use pencil and paper 😎. I only put stuff in the computer if I need to produce a recording, or more rarely, a printed part.
 

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I also use a keyboard, and MIDI. However I use Transcribe to slow down songs, and it works ok. I would rather use a media player but I cant deal with the pitch changes. I tried playing a song into Reaper (DAW) and then using it to slow down the song with the tempo function. This did not result in a satifactory playback, but that could be user error. Using MIDI does work best for me, I am coming from a Piano background though so I am more familiar with that interface.
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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In Musescore, there are shortcuts for selecting/changing the note duration units, mostly using the number keys (e.g., 3=16th note, 4=8th note, 5=quarter note) as well as for adding dotted durations (for which the shortcut is the period), for switching to triplets (Ctrl + 3), and for selecting rests instead of notes (just type 0 to get a rest of duration equal to the currently selected note duration).

It takes a little bit of practice to get accustomed to these shortcuts, but once you do I think it's generally easier and quicker than using pen and paper (and certainly faster than using the point-and-click interface).
 

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I never bother writing it down, just memorize it. I feel a bit guilty about it, like it’s being lazy, but my score penmanship sucks and using software seems like I would end up taking several hours just to make a score that I may never need to read, since I’ve already learned the part, so why? (Yeah, I know, to get faster at writing down and improve my penmanship would be a couple good reasons!)
 

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I don't do much transcription but when I do it is just for memory. I never write down what I'm working on. I had a teacher some years back and his main message was 'internalize everything'. However if you do want to write what you are working on in Musescore, as was noted above, the ctrl 3 works fine. Enter a half note, highlight that note and do the ctrl3 and you will be able to enter 3 quarter notes as triplets. Hope that is what you are asking about.
 

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I used musescore for a while. I got to a point where I had key bindings memorized (and rebound some to be more convenient), and I was able to play notes on my right hand with my midi keyboard and set rhythms with my left. I agree with everyone else though, it's a better learning experience to write out or memorize a transcription. If you struggle with rhythm (or feel I guess), I would write out a transcription and really try to get the rhythm and slurring right, as it's easier to pay attention to. If you don't struggle with those, memorize it. it's good for you, I'm told

I use music speed changer too! Seems to work pretty well, and there's a web version. You get a week trial of Transcribe (by "seven strings" or something like that) for free, if you are interested in it. Seemed pretty good when I used it, but I like the portability of the app.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I never bother writing it down, just memorize it. I feel a bit guilty about it, like it’s being lazy, but my score penmanship sucks and using software seems like I would end up taking several hours just to make a score that I may never need to read, since I’ve already learned the part, so why? (Yeah, I know, to get faster at writing down and improve my penmanship would be a couple good reasons!)
That's actually my main reason for not completely giving up and going back to pencil and paper -- my handwriting is atrocious, and doubly so for music.
 

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+1 for Amazing Slow Downer from https ://www. ronimusic. com. With it you can vary the speed of a digital music file without affecting the pitch or degrading the sound quality. Or you can transpose playback into another key without varying the tempo. In other words, you can manipulate playback speed & pitch independently, by any increment you want -- settings are quantified for replicability, but not quantized (notched).

I transcribe jazz recordings often, either as a study aid for myself or to prep charts for the band I gig with, which includes instruments in C, Bb, & Eb tunings. My personal preference is to memorize, then improvise, but some of my bandmates are more chart-dependent. For legibility & ease of transposition, software is indispensible IMO.

For this purpose I've found open-source, free MuseScore 3.6 useful & convenient -- although its functionality is inconsistent & cumbersome, & documentation woefully inadequate (prone to listing options without telling you what they are or what they do).

MIDI playback is helpful; you can assign different virtual instruments to melody & chords on a lead sheet, or generate a full-ensemble score simulating orchestral sounds. I rely on MIDI as a handy proofreading tool or as a quick way to try out alternative harmonizations: alphanumeric chord names will play back with enough harmonic complexity (tweakable per chord or per chart) to be useful.

Three years of MuseScore wrangling have familiarized me just enough with its capabilities & quirks to make it my go-to transcription/arranging tool. Yet its patchworky UI (user interface) & arbitrary chart layout constraints often waste my time & goad me to say bad words like !<#[, ^%{%, or $+*]^#||&>.

MuseScore 4.0, a major redesign to improve consistency & ease of use, has been in the works for a while now under the creative guidance of a savvy UI wonk called Tantacrul. The new version -- currently available in nightly alpha-builds -- is still buggy & crash-prone, but I have high hopes for the final release, date TBA. Regrettably, new high-rez virtual instrument samples won't be included until version 4.1 or 4.2. Or so I'm told.
 
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