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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have always liked to play any given song as close to the recording as my capabilities allow. I did this back in grade school with the clarinet, in a weekend rock band on guitar, in a club band with sax, clarinet and guitar. I spend (a little too much) time listening and repeating ad nauseum. I get close but can't remember the details of the whole song. Memory was never my strong suit but thank goodness for some of today's software! Remember having to lift the needle of the record player over and over so you could just write the lyrics?

So I realized if I wrote it down in notation I would be able to practice it and focus on my sound that would recreate or at least resemble the original. (Full disclosure - I'm just ok at doing it but I love trying to get as close as possible.)

In my efforts to transcribe EXACTLY what is being played, I found that Transcribe! has the best sow-speed playback, loop capabilities and best of all, a piano roll where you can see the actual notes being played. The piano keys at the left will move position to correctly show the notes for an Eb alto with one button click which is awesome. I then pick out the melody notes by sight because all the other instruments (and the horn harmonics) are all there too.

I first play it at speed and put in measure bars and beats. I can then see where each note starts and stops. It gets pretty dense when 32nd notes are there.

I then open MuseScore and insert each note as I see and hear it. The result is that even though I only do ballads, the score is never the same timing as the original and I repeat the workflow to try to improve it. MuseScore note entry is slow and painful for me.

I found AnthemScore free trial and it is similar to Transcribe! but will use an AI engine to try to give you all the MIDI notes. It has a good piano roll function but no way to change to Eb Alto like Transcribe! The first load of the mp3 audio takes a long time because it is using the AI engine to determine the tempo, beats, MIDI notes and chords. ALL the music in the song is turned into MIDI which is a real mess, but I learned that I could edit out many of the notes (Bass, and high freq piano and harmonics) easily. Then the hard work begins editing out piano, drums and harmonics, then editing in sax notes that it missed. After that, I could adjust the length of the MIDI notes to match what I see and hear the sax play on the piano roll. This is time consuming but probably the most accurate I've ever been. Then I output the MIDI in XML format (the .mid file is pretty bad).

I then read the XML file into MuseScore and I have a score which differs a bit in timing from the original. I just did Coltranes' Nancy with the Laughing Face - his alto version from his Ballads quartet album. I've done this with Aubra Grave's Misty, and Ken Peplowski's Trubbel so far.

Each of the transcriptions include the artist's improvisations which is what I was after in the first place. Real Book versions are basic melody notes which I can usually play from memory.

So where am I going with this you say? I hope to hear from those of you who know easier ways to do transcribing. I'm not good with a pencil and paper on a blank score sheet because I've done it and I can't read my own writing AND I'm a slow reader, so doing all the work helps me learn the song in more detail.

Are there any other tools or workflow tips I should know about to improve my transcribing efforts?

Thanks much.
 

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Alto Sax
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I have always liked to play any given song as close to the recording as my capabilities allow. I did this back in grade school with the clarinet, in a weekend rock band on guitar, in a club band with sax, clarinet and guitar. I spend (a little too much) time listening and repeating ad nauseum. I get close but can't remember the details of the whole song. Memory was never my strong suit but thank goodness for some of today's software! Remember having to lift the needle of the record player over and over so you could just write the lyrics?

So I realized if I wrote it down in notation I would be able to practice it and focus on my sound that would recreate or at least resemble the original. (Full disclosure - I'm just ok at doing it but I love trying to get as close as possible.)

In my efforts to transcribe EXACTLY what is being played, I found that Transcribe! has the best sow-speed playback, loop capabilities and best of all, a piano roll where you can see the actual notes being played. The piano keys at the left will move position to correctly show the notes for an Eb alto with one button click which is awesome. I then pick out the melody notes by sight because all the other instruments (and the horn harmonics) are all there too.

I first play it at speed and put in measure bars and beats. I can then see where each note starts and stops. It gets pretty dense when 32nd notes are there.

I then open MuseScore and insert each note as I see and hear it. The result is that even though I only do ballads, the score is never the same timing as the original and I repeat the workflow to try to improve it. MuseScore note entry is slow and painful for me.

I found AnthemScore free trial and it is similar to Transcribe! but will use an AI engine to try to give you all the MIDI notes. It has a good piano roll function but no way to change to Eb Alto like Transcribe! The first load of the mp3 audio takes a long time because it is using the AI engine to determine the tempo, beats, MIDI notes and chords. ALL the music in the song is turned into MIDI which is a real mess, but I learned that I could edit out many of the notes (Bass, and high freq piano and harmonics) easily. Then the hard work begins editing out piano, drums and harmonics, then editing in sax notes that it missed. After that, I could adjust the length of the MIDI notes to match what I see and hear the sax play on the piano roll. This is time consuming but probably the most accurate I've ever been. Then I output the MIDI in XML format (the .mid file is pretty bad).

I then read the XML file into MuseScore and I have a score which differs a bit in timing from the original. I just did Coltranes' Nancy with the Laughing Face - his alto version from his Ballads quartet album. I've done this with Aubra Grave's Misty, and Ken Peplowski's Trubbel so far.

Each of the transcriptions include the artist's improvisations which is what I was after in the first place. Real Book versions are basic melody notes which I can usually play from memory.

So where am I going with this you say? I hope to hear from those of you who know easier ways to do transcribing. I'm not good with a pencil and paper on a blank score sheet because I've done it and I can't read my own writing AND I'm a slow reader, so doing all the work helps me learn the song in more detail.

Are there any other tools or workflow tips I should know about to improve my transcribing efforts?

Thanks much.
Lift the needle, nah vinyl was too expensive an precious for that type of thing. I would tape my records and then do the rewind thing on my cassette deck to get the lyrics of songs.
Cheaper than messing with costly vinyl. Just my two pennys worth.
 

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Lift the needle, nah vinyl was too expensive an precious for that type of thing. I would tape my records and then do the rewind thing on my cassette deck to get the lyrics of songs.
Cheaper than messing with costly vinyl. Just my two pennys worth.
Gonna give transcribe a try got few jazz funk tunes with nice sax solos (y)
 

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As you've discovered, there are no shortcuts. Fixing the mess a computer makes is more trouble than doing it from scratch yourself.

I still use pencil, paper and my ears, like I did 50 years ago. I could slow down on the turntable or reel-to-reel back then. Much easier to do today on Youtube or with Transcribe! (and see the waveform) without shifting the pitch. But the principle is the same. After years of practice, I can usually hear entire phrases now without having to slow down and pick out ever single note.
 

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I do something similar to what you have described, using Transcribe! and Sibelius open at the same time. It's almost always jazz solos, usually saxophone but I have also done trumpet, voice, piano, bass, trombone solos and also whole section parts when trying to transcribe a full band recording (from quartet to big band).

One small difference to your process is that I enter barlines by hand but get Transcribe! to put in the beat markers by simple division - that's what Andy Robinson (the developer) recommends.

When transcribing jazz solos, and particularly ballads, I find that getting the rhythm "correct" is often much more challenging than the pitch. Even when making a transcription for my own purposes, there are lots of decisions to be made about how best to notate rhythms where the soloist is playing around with the time. My transcription often ends up being a compromise between being rhythmically very accurate (lots of detail) and readable (less detail). I do try to include some articulation marks but not everywhere as the transcription is only a means to the end of me learning to play a close approximation of a solo I like.

I would also like to use "timecodes" in the notated solo so that I can play back the original and the transcription fully synchronised so I could hear small differences of pitch and timing. I tried to interest Andy Robinson in adapting Transcribe! to export a file of timecodes for bars and beats in a format that Sibelius could read, but he didn't think that would be widely used.

Rhys
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
get Transcribe! to put in the beat markers by simple division - that's what Andy Robinson (the developer) recommends.
Yes - I remember seeing this done but I haven't done this myself. I sit there hitting the "M" and "B" keys through the whole song and thought just putting in the measures and doing the divide might be faster/easier.
When transcribing jazz solos, and particularly ballads, I find that getting the rhythm "correct" is often much more challenging than the pitch.
This has been my experience too, I found that once I got used to AnthemScore, I got much closer to the actual rhythm but since the program is slow, it takes a while. Just going from Transcribe! to notation (eyeballing the length of notes in each beat), I find I'm not as close. But then there is always the "human element" of the original player that only my ears can perceive, but I can't get it down on paper.
My transcription often ends up being a compromise between being rhythmically very accurate (lots of detail) and readable (less detail).
Rightly so - me too. Many times a scoop up to a note or even a grace note just crowds the sheet with extra 32nd notes that make it confusing to read back later when I've not practiced it in a while. I also have trouble deciding how to handle a fast chromatic run - put all the notes or throw in the first and last with a gliss or arpeggio mark. And like I said, I'm not strong on reading.

Bottom line, I just try to get the notes as accurate as possible, but rely on my hearing of the original to articulate it properly. I also emailed back and forth with Andy Robinson about allowing us to place MIDI notes on top of the spectragraph - which is what AnthemScore does. I think Transcribe! would be faster than AnthemScore if coded properly. Transcribe! also has the one button transpose (Eb for my Alto) and the piano roll keys shift to the names of the notes on the sax. AnthemScore does not do that. The developers there are pretty responsive via email too.

So it looks like we have the same issues except for Sibelius. MuseScore works for me although my daughter has Sibelius which I'm trying to avoid learning for now.

Thanks for the input.
 
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